Guide on Tire Repair: A Safe and Permanent Fix

You seem a responsible driver who doesn’t want to be among the 11,000 car crashes that result in 200 deaths in the US annually for not troubleshooting tire-related issues timely. Tire punctures and blowouts alone account for 6.7% of accidents and fatalities. A significant number, right? But you won’t have to be a part of this, as our qualified auto technicians have created this guide to help you inspect and tackle tire issues before they become horrible road hazards. 

Is It Possible to Repair a Tire? 

Before getting straight to tire repair techniques, it’s wise to check the nature of the damage to see if it’s repairable. The following section shows fixable vs unrepairable tire issues. 

Repairable damage 

Punctures in the tread:

When a sharp object, such as a nail or pointed stone, hits your car tire, it results in a hole in the tread area. Fortunately, you can repair it. 

Holes/cuts less than or equal to 6mm:

Punctures less than or equal to 6mm or 0.2 inches are repairable as long as they are in the central portion of the tire. 

Non-repairable damage

Surface cracking:

This damage occurs when tires are exposed to heat for a long time. The tire’s sidewalls get fine cracks due to the ozone reacting with the rubber polymer. Unfortunately, you can’t repair this damage. 

Excessive tread wear with exposed plies/cables: 

Driving over-inflated tires or aggressive riding habits can result in excessive tread wear. The tire’s internal structure weakens, exposing plies and cables. And you need to replace the tire rather than repair it. However, some auto repair shops offer an option called “retreaded tires” if you don’t have the budget for new tires. 

Sidewall punctures:

When a sharp object hits a car tire’s thin structure, i.e.,  the sidewall, the tire structure, and handling become compromised; hence, sidewall punctures are mostly unrepairable, especially if you think of DIY. But seeking professional help may work.

Big holes and irregular cuts/gashes:

Punctures greater than ¼ inches for passenger car tires and inches for steel-belted truck tires are considered non-repairable.

Effective Tire Repair Techniques

Now that you understand whether your tire damage is repairable or not let’s discuss practical ways of repairing it. 

Tire plug

This method involves treating punctures using a long rubber thread called a plug. Simply insert it into the hole with an insertion tool in the tire repair tool kit, coat the area with rubber cement, and you’re good to go.  While a quick and easy fix, auto experts don’t consider tire plugging a safe and reliable method for long-term application. 

Tire patch

Patches are circular rubber pieces that you can stick to the punctured area. It creates a tight seal, stopping leakage. This method is rather hectic as you must dismount the tire, break the bead, and apply the patch on the hole from inside the tire. However, tire patches are more durable and reliable than plugs. Here’s how you can patch a tire using a tire patch kit. 

Combination repair 

Consider plug-patch combination tire repair if you want an even safe and permanent fix for punctured tires. It involves plugging the hole outside and patching it from inside. Repairing tires this way ensures long-lasting performance, generally 7-10 years or the entire lifespan of tires. You can check out the complete step-by-step process here.

Sealant

Spraying sealant is another tire repair method for fixing punctures. Sealants are liquid rubber particles mixed with binding agents and thickeners. There are generally two types of tire sealants: pre-puncture and post-puncture. 

You need to spray sealant from the tire valve. It, then, forms a rubbery plug on the punctured area, sealing the leak and saving your day. However, it’s not a permanent solution. Moreover, using it many times may harm the internal structure of your tires.  

Section repairs

It’s a professional tire repair approach for sidewall damage, such as cuts, bulges, and significant punctures where a standard patch or plug doesn’t work. Section repair involves removing the damaged area, filling it with new rubber, and vulcanizing the section for a solid seal.  

Retreading

It’s another tire repair method to consider for fixing tire-related damages. It’s primarily used to tackle tread wear and tear. Retreading involves buffing the worn-out tread, inspecting the casing, and applying a new tread layer. 

This method is less expensive than buying new tires. However, you may need to find a reputable brand for retreaded tires with high-quality control standards. 

According to RMA, USTMA, DOT, and NHTSA:

  • Avoid repairing passenger or LT tires with punctures greater than 6mm.
  • Consider replacing tires having 2/32” remaining tread depth.
  • Always dismount the tire while repairing it. 
  • Never use a plug or a patch alone. Combination repair is the best and safest method. 
  • Don’t patch or plug a tire more than twice or a maximum of thrice. 
  • Always clean the punctured area with an electric drill at 1200 rpm and a carbide cutter.
  • Never buff the tire hole so deep that the inner cords start exposing. 
  • For tubeless tires, only vulcanizing patches and plugs should be used. 
  • Check the manufacturer’s license for buying retreaded tires.

Should You Repair a Punctured Tire Yourself? 

Well, it depends on the severity of the damage and your know-how about auto mechanics. For minor punctures in the tread area, a DIY tire repair plug-patch combo tool kit, your hands, and mindfulness will be enough. However, contact a professional mechanic to get the job done safely for severe punctures, such as those on sidewalls.  

Cost of Tire Repair: DIY vs. Professional 

Now, you may wonder: How much does a tire repair cost? It depends on whether you want to do it yourself or seek professional help. In the case of DIY, you must have $20-$30 as a tire repair tool kit can cost somewhere between. 

In contrast, when calling AAA to go to the nearby auto repair shop, expect to have an average of $50 to $60 for a punctured tire repair in the US. It can be more or less depending on the nature of the damage and the regional labor cost. 

So, the choice is yours. But one thing is sure: whether you settle for DIY repair or professional assistance, it costs way less than buying a new tire. A moderate-quality tire can cost you between $100-$150, excluding the labor cost.  

FAQs

Do repaired tires last? 

Yes. Plug-patch combination tire repair can last from 7 to 10 years. However, it demands a careful installation process and a high-quality plug-patch combo kit.

What is the best method of repairing a tire?

According to industry standards set by the RMA and NHTSA, plugging or patching alone will not work. Hence, it’s best to plug and patch a tire using a quality combo repair kit. That way, you will ensure your and others’ safety on the road.  

How to fix a tubeless tire?

Repairing methods for tubeless tires are the same as those for tubed tires, i.e., plugging and patching. However, many experts recommend using tire sealants as a first fix for minor punctures in tubeless tires. You can choose between latex and non-latex sealants. Both types have almost the same performance in sealing the leakage, but the latter last longer. 

Sum up

So, that’s all you may need to know about tire repair. While things often happen naturally, it’s still best to run an inspection for any leaks in tires before driving. Your little habit can save many lives. Moreover, in case of big holes and serious damages, always seek professional help and choose trustworthy auto technicians. They will suggest whether repairing a tire would be safe and beneficial or replacing it, seeing the nature of the issue.

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