Can Ice Puncture a Tire? [3 Dangers and How to Avoid Them]

There are certain circumstances where ice can puncture your tires. If you allow ice to build up in your wheel wells then the sharp edge of the ice can puncture the tire while you are driving. Tires lose pressure during cold weather, and underinflated tires are at a higher risk of blowout during icy conditions. Finally, off-roading on ice-covered water can puncture your tires. If the ice breaks and your vehicle drops into the water, the sharp edges of the ice can slash tires and destroy the tire valve stems.

Can ice puncture a tire?

Will Ice Puncture Your Tire During Regular Driving?

As long as your vehicle is well-maintained and the tires are in good condition, winter driving does not increase the risk of a tire puncture. Make sure to drive on plowed and cleared roads whenever possible. A properly salted road will have minimal ice buildup, which makes for safer winter driving.

  • Regular driving in winter will not put you at an increased risk of ice puncturing your tire.
  • Car care and tire maintenance will further reduce your risk of a tire puncture.
  • Install winter tires on your car to increase driving safety during cold weather.

It is always a good idea to change your standard tires out for winter tires just before temperatures drop. Winter tires allow for better traction, handling, and braking in snow and ice. Since we all want to remain safe throughout the winter, all-season tires are well worth the investment.

3 Ways Can Ice Puncture a Tire

There are few things worse than a flat tire in the heart of winter. To avoid having your tires destroyed by ice, take note of these 3 causes, as well as the tips for preventing them.

Ice Buildup in Wheel Wells

Driving in slushy winter conditions can cause snow and ice to collect in your wheel wells. This may seem harmless, but when you park your car this slush can freeze into solid ice. Sometimes, this ice can even have sharp edges. Driving your car with ice in the wheel wells causes the tires to rub up against the ice, especially when turning or going over bumps. Constant contact with this sharp ice can lead to prematurely worn tires, or even a tire puncture.

  • Ice buildup in your car’s wheel wells can cause a tire puncture.
  • The ice in the wheel wells rubs against the tires, especially during turning.
  • A tire that rubs against sharp ice in your wheel well repeatedly can be punctured.
  • Keep wheel wells ice-free by removing slush whenever you park.
  • If your wheel wells have already frozen, use stronger methods to de-ice your tires.

To prevent frozen wheel wells from destroying your tires and preventing your car from turning properly, remove the slush every time you park your car. Just after driving, the slush should still be soft. So, you can use an ice scraper to clear the wheel wells. If it’s too late to remove the soft slush, follow our tips for removing ice from tires.

Your Tires are Underinflated

Underinflated tires are more prone to blowouts and punctures than properly inflated tires. So, if your tires are slightly flat, driving over sharp ridges of ice or icicles has a higher chance of causing a flat tire. This can be dangerous if it occurs while you’re driving at high speeds and may be expensive to fix.

  • Tires with lower-than-recommended pressure are at higher risk of ice puncture.
  • Tires lose air pressure as temperatures drop, resulting in underinflated tires.
  • Check tire pressure once winter arrives and inflate your tires to the proper PSI.
  • Check your tire pressure throughout winter to maintain safe, blowout-free tires.

Cold weather causes your tires to lose pressure. This is because cold causes the air inside your tires to condense. For every 10℉ the temperature drops, your tires will lose 1–2 PSI. To prevent an ice puncture caused by poorly inflated tires, check your tire pressure once every 2–4 weeks in winter. Add air to your tires to keep them at the factory specifications for your vehicle.

Your Car Breaks Through Ice

Tires can be punctured or destroyed if your car breaks through ice. This most often occurs during off-roading. If you attempt to drive over ice-covered water, one or more of your tires may break through the ice. Then, the sharp edges of the ice can slice your tire sidewalls or tear off the valve stems on your tires. This results in a tire that goes flat in minutes.

  • Driving on ice over streams and ponds can destroy your tires if your wheels break through the ice.
  • When thick ice breaks, the sharp edges can puncture your tires as you try to move forward or backward.
  • When driving off-road in winter, avoid driving on icy patches or frozen bodies of water.

To avoid having your tires destroyed by ice in this manner, take special care for the surface you’re driving on. While off-roading in the snow is a fun winter activity, avoid driving over frozen streams and ponds. Breaking through the ice can puncture your tires, but it can also easily get your vehicle stuck. Finding someone to help winch your car out of the middle of a frozen creek may not be easy in winter.

What Should You Do if Ice Punctures Your Tire?

If your tire is punctured while driving in icy conditions, immediately reduce speed, pull over to the side of the road, and turn on your hazard lights. If you have an emergency kit, ignite road flares and set them on the road 10–20 feet behind your vehicle. This will help other drivers see you in snowy conditions. Next, either change the tire yourself or call for roadside assistance.

  • Immediately pull over and turn on your hazard lights if a tire is punctured.
  • Set out warning cones or road flares to help alert other drivers.
  • If you cannot change the tire yourself, call a roadside assistance service immediately.
  • If your car is running while you wait for assistance, slightly open a window and make sure the tailpipe is not blocked, to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

It is essential that you do not continue to drive on a flat or punctured tire. This can cause significant damage to your wheel and other vehicle components. Additionally, if you have to wait in your car during snowy conditions, you may want to keep the vehicle running to stay warm. Crack a window and be sure to check periodically to make sure the exhaust pipe is not obstructed. If the tailpipe is blocked, exhaust can flow into your vehicle and cause deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

Can Snow and Ice Cause a Flat Tire?

Although it is not very common, icy conditions can cause tire punctures and flats. Here are the most common causes of ice-damaged tires, as well as how to avoid them:

Causes of Ice-Punctured Tires

  • Ice build-up in wheel wells, which can damage or puncture tires while you are driving.
  • Cold temperatures cause a drop in tire pressure that can increase the risk of punctures.
  • Driving over ice-covered water can cause the tires to puncture if the ice breaks under the weight of the vehicle.

How to Prevent Ice from Ruining Your Tires

  • Remove slush from wheel wells whenever you park.
  • If ice has hardened in wheel wells, remove the ice before driving.
  • Check tire pressure 1–2 times per month in winter and inflate tires to factory specs.
  • Avoid off-roading on thick ice or ice-covered water, even if it is shallow.

By knowing the dangers of ice and icy roads, you can prepare yourself for wintry conditions. This helps to prevent tire failure and keeps your car safely on the road.

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