We hope no one ever finds themselves in a situation where they have a flat tire and zero way of getting air into the tire. If you are in that situation, here’s how to inflate a car tire without a pump.
Let’s say you took your ride out for a camping trip and you found a logging road. Your travel at least 10 miles into the backwoods and find the perfect little camping spot, right next to a small waterfall.
You see no one for an entire week. It seems like heaven! You pack up your gear to go home and this is when you discover that one tire is hopeless flat.
Of course, you could remove all your gear and change the tire, but what if you didn’t have a spare? Now you are really in a jam, aren’t you?
Maybe not. While some of the following ways are not practical, you might be able to put enough air in the tire that you can limp the vehicle out to the nearest gas station.
Let’s talk about how you can inflate a tire when you don’t have a pump.
How to Inflate a Flat Car Tire Without A Pump
Use an Aerosol Can of “Fix a Flat.”
Fix A Flat is an aerosol can that contains a liquid glue to seal any leaks the tire might have due to a nail or other type of road debris. Screw the nozzle onto the valve stem and press on the tab on top of the can. The aerosol and glue will begin to fill the tire and it should inflate it about halfway.
Immediately drive the car slowly to allow the glue to rotate inside the tire and the aerosol to continue to inflate the tire. Within 1-2 miles, most tires are sealed and fully inflated. If you have a serious leak that is only partially sealed, the tire may lose air again very quickly, so have the tire repaired as soon as possible.
This method may not work but it is certainly worth a shot in a situation such as the one mentioned above. If you happen to have a can or two of compressed air (such as for cleaning keyboards or dashboard vents) you can try the following method:
Remove the inside of the valve stem core. This leaves a direct opening to the tire. Turn the can of compressed air upside down and using the tube, spray it directly inside the tire. Wear gloves when you do this to avoid frostbite. If you have more than one can, be sure to have the other one ready to go so you can use it after the first can is empty.
Quickly replace the valve stem. Drive very slowly and the compressed air will warm up, causing it to turn to gas. This method will most likely only give your tire a few pounds of air, but it might be enough to get you to a gas station or at least to the main road where you can call for roadside assistance.
We would not recommend you use this method unless you are in a truly desperate emergency. We’ll reiterate that this method can be extremely dangerous and you should only try it at your own risk.
Since you would need to remove the tire to try this method, if you have a spare, it would be better to simply swap out the flat tire with the spare tire but if the spare is missing or if it is also flat, this method may work.
If you have a can of WD-40 in the vehicle, remove the tire from the vehicle and roll it safely away from the car, at least 100 feet.
Lie the tire flat on the ground and apply the WD-40 generously where the rim meets the tire. Use a candle or lighter to ignite the WD-40 and allow it to burn out. The tire should inflate immediately. If the fire continues to burn after the tire is inflated, douse it with water, dirt, or a blanket.
You can use the method above using any flammable aerosol you have on hand, such as parts cleaner, brake cleaner, even hair spray.
Do not try the third method unless you are in a life-or-death situation and you have no other alternative. Step away from the tire while it is burning and be sure to extinguish the flame as soon as the tire inflates to prevent tire damage.