In general, one of the questions we often hear from many of our customers is how far they can run on a rim.

The distance someone can drive on a rim depends on many things, including vehicle weight, wheel material, road’s nature, and vehicle speed. Thus, an average car can drive from several yards to a couple of miles. While driving on a rim is not recommended, It can also adversely affect the vehicle.

As an engineer, let me help you understand how far you can drive and the consequences of doing so.

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How far is it possible to drive on a rim?

If you’re wondering how far and how long can you drive on a rim, well, the answer is, “It depends on many things”.

Frankly, you shouldn’t do this. Because it is quite dangerous, it can be illegal depending on the country and state where you live.

So, don’t get me wrong! I’m not gonna address whether it’s legal to run on a rim because you may be on your own private road, off-road, or endeavoring to take your vehicle to a safer location.

Thus, it is better to be aware of this.

So, let’s start by understanding the dependent factors.

  • How fast you are traveling.
  • The number of turns you have to take.
  • How heavy the truck/car is.
  • Alloy wheel or steel wheel
  • The nature of the road.

So, the answer is you may drive from several yards to a couple of miles. Pretty sure your rim will be damaged beyond repair quickly thereafter.

Typically, Alloy rims tend to go bad rapidly compared to steels rims. Further, you will be able to drive for a fairly long time if you’re driving at a crawling pace.

Also, the wheel won’t be worn away pretty soon as long as the wheel rotates without dragging.

Although a bit easier to drive in a straight line on a rim, controlling the car is far more important.

There won’t be a big issue if the aforementioned wheel is in the rear. But, In the case of a front-wheel that definitely requires at least a small amount of steering, you may face a hard time against the traction. But, it can be handled in whatever direction you want.

In case you’re wondering how far can you drive on a rim without damaging it, frankly, the rim will be damaged within a couple of yards.

Is driving on a rim bad?

Obviously, you know that driving on the rim is bad. But, what we need to find out is how bad is it?

Here are several disadvantages.

  • Although driving at a crawling speed doesn’t seem to damage the rim, but it will go out of round quickly.
  • It’s illegal in most countries.
  • The control over the vehicle is limited, and especially it’s much harder to take turns against the traction.
  • It’s hazardous even for bystanders. Because if you’re running on a flat tire, the tire will be damaged within several hundreds of yards, causing to throw off chunks of rubber, or the tire can peel off of the rim.
  • An average car tire typically lasts 60000-75000 miles. However, if you drive on a flat tire, you would not be able to get the most out of it; perhaps, you’ll have to replace it 6000-10000 miles before regular tires.
  • Running on a rim with or without a tire will definitely cause significant additional repair costs. Maybe tire and rim cannot be reused.
  • Even if the rim still looks right, reusing that rim/tire will significantly increase the likelihood of a blowout, flats.
  • Running on a rim with or without a tire causes serious damage to calipers, brake lines, rotors, fenders, suspension components, and wheels.

So, is it worth running on a rim?

Suggested Readings: Does rim width matter for tires?

Is it illegal to drive on a flat tire?

Although no separate law has been promulgated regarding flat tire driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of United States, in many cases, driving on flat tires has been caused to loss of control over the vehicles, resulting in crashes.

Therefore, It is an offense for an unsafe vehicle to enter the road. If a vehicle is driving on a flat tire, it’s a potentially unsafe vehicle.

Therefore, you may be penalized or fined for driving an unsafe vehicle. If you need to know more about this information, please read this document called tire safety information by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the United States.

Can you drive on a flat tire in an emergency?

Suppose you’re on a highway, in case you got a flat, don’t drive anymore. Pullover to the hard shoulder from out of the traffic.

If you just had a flat somewhere off the road and away from traffic, consider changing your flat tire with the spare tire or call for roadside assistance.

However, in a case where you got a flat in a somewhere unsafe spot, it’s best to drive carefully to a safe location.

Again, don’t get me wrong! It’s NOT A ADVICE! The decision is up to you. You’re the one who is responsible for whatever decision has been taken by you.

However, if I get a flat in a significantly dangerous area at night, and I don’t feel safe enough to deal with the tire at that particular time, I’d rather drive the vehicle carefully to a safe location. Because in such a circumstance, I don’t care if my tire or rim is destroyed. Again, it’s my decision. Not yours.

What should you do after driving on a rim?

If any case, you drove your vehicle on a rim, you should check and repair the following.

  • Wheel.
  • Tire.
  • Brake lines.
  • Calipers
  • Fenders.
  • Suspension componenets.
  • Rotors.

Things to be aware of.

I hope now you know how far you can drive on a rim, the consequences of doing that, and some of the important aspects you need to know as a responsible driver.

It’s much difficult for some people to tell if their tires are low in air as most tires are low profile and have more advanced suspensions. Because it’s a good idea to check the tire pressure at least every two weeks.

Also, don’t forget to carry a spare wheel and tire. Many cars equipped with drive flats don’t carry spare wheels and tire, or they don’t bring a jack or other essential tools. This is mainly people tend to reallocate the space that belongs to the spare tire for some other purposes.

Make the safety of yourself and pedestrians number one rather than your urgency.


Most vehicle owners are curious to know how far can they drive on a rim. So, in this article, we’ve discussed if it’s a possible thing to do so, how far someone can drive on a rim, the consequences of doing so, and many other important facts that every vehicle owner must know. Hope you found this helpful.


Madhusanka is a huge vehicle enthusiast who continues to research solutions to vehicle-related issues that many vehicle owners have. He is the owner of the Vehicle Freedom website.

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