Flat tyres are very common, so you shouldn’t worry too much if you get one. There are two ways to fix a flat tire, and both are quick and don’t cost too much. Most people fix holes in their wheels by putting patches or plugs in them.
The Average Cost to Get a Tire Patched (Kit vs. Shop)
On average, a tyre patch and a realignment cost $25 at most service stations and auto repair shops. While you can perform this repair on your own for less using a kit, it will require additional tools that you may not have available.
Some shops will charge $20 or less, while other shops might do it for free if you got your tyres from them.
If you are lucky and find the hole early, some shops will charge you between $15 and $30 to fix it. There might be additional charges such as a tyre sealant which costs around $10-$15. Sealed tyres typically last less than100 miles only, making it a temporary solution.
Alternatively, you can do it yourself with a repair kit which costs anywhere from $5-$20. This kit has only the tools, plugs, and gear you need to do the repair yourself, like simple tools, plugs, and gear. A bigger kit includes a pump for reinflating a flat tyre and sealant, which will set you back averagely $20-$50.
Whichever method you choose, we shall get into details on the tyre repair methods and the advantages or disadvantages. Read on to find out what happens when your tyre goes flat.
When to Patch a Tire Versus When to Replace It
You can repair a tyre if:
The puncture hole is located within a tire’s puncture repair area, between the treads. The USTMA and TIA guidelines prohibit the repair of a tire’s shoulder and sidewall.
If the puncture hole is less than ¼ of an inch in diameter
The puncture hole doesn’t coincide with previous repair locations and isn’t across from each other
How to Repair a Tire Using a Patch
Separate the tyre from the rim
Inspect the tyre thoroughly on the outside as well as the inside. Whatever caused the puncture might have damaged the interior sidewall if it went in deep enough.
After inspection, you can determine if the tyre can be repaired or not. If it can, you trim to remove damaged cables from the puncture site to clean and stabilise it.
Pull a rubber stem from the inside out through the puncture site to seal off the inside of the tire.
Buff the puncture site from the inside and apply a special vulcanizing glue.
Install a patch over the inner lining over the puncture site. The patch and the glue will cause a chemical reaction, sealing the hole.
Mount the tyre back on the rim and inflate the tyre to its proper pressure. Don’t forget to look for leaks from your repair site.
This procedure typically requires 60-90 minutes to be done correctly.
Some damages to the tyres are too severe, making the tyre irreparable. The location of the puncture hole can also make safe tyre repair impossible. You can’t repair a tyre if:
1. The Puncture Hole Falls Outside The Repair Area
As discussed, any hole outside the Puncture Repair Area is regarded as irreparable. Most of the time, only the middle and top of the tyre need to be fixed.
The crown is the middle of the tread, about 1 to 1.5 inches from the shoulder of each tyre. Most tyres say that the place to fix a hole is in the major grooves on the outside of both shoulders.
2. The Size Of The Puncture Hole
The biggest hole that can be fixed on tyres for cars and light trucks is 6mm, or 1/4 inch. If the hole in the tyre is bigger than this, the tyre needs to be replaced.
3. Bubble Or Bulge In The Sidewall
When a tyre hits a pothole, curb, or other type of road hazard with a lot of force, it can cause the sidewall to bubble or bulge. Since the bubble or bulge can’t be fixed, the tyre needs to be replaced.
Tire Plug vs. Tire Patch
What Is a Tire Plug?
A tyre plug is a large piece made of malleable rubber inserted on the outside of the tyre into a puncture hole. It expands and prevents air trapped in the tyre from escaping through the hole.
They don’t take long to put on because the tyre doesn’t have to be taken off the wheel or even the car.
Even though a tyre plug repair doesn’t take long, the plug itself can be pricey. Different people have different ideas about how long tyre plugs last as a way to fix a flat tyre. Some say it’s the best method, while others don’t.
The cost of a tyre plug repair is cheap
It is less complex compared to the radial patch repair
If done correctly, a tyre plug can last a lifetime
You can DIY the entire process yourself if you have the required tools
It can fail if installed poorly by an unskilled person. This mostly happens when the hole is too big or irregularly shaped, which means that the hole should have been patched from the word go.
Most plugs don’t work for holes near the sidewall because the hole can’t be sealed completely at an angle.
What Is a Radial Patch?
A radio patch is a flat piece of rubber that is glued inside the tyre where the hole is. In this case, the word “radial” is just a reference to the types of tyres that are used on the road today.
Patches are harder to fix than plugs because the wheel has to be taken off the car and the rim has to be taken off before the repair can begin.
After the repair, the air pressure will cause the patch to grow and stick to the tyre rubber, making a solid piece. This happens because the radial patches self-vulcanize, which means that they soften when they get hot.
Unlike fixing a tyre plug, this will take more time.
Even if a hole is at an angle, a patch can still fix it. This is because when the rubber gets hot, it will fill in the diagonal holes and seal off all the damage.
Repairing a radial patch is harder and takes longer.
The size of the hole that a patch needs to have is too small. If the hole is bigger than 1/4 inch, it needs to be fixed.
How Long Can You Drive on a Patched or Plugged Tire?
The company says that a tyre plug can last between 7 and 10 years or 25,000 miles, but it’s important to remember that this depends on how it’s put in.
If the tyre isn’t sealed properly or if the plug isn’t put in well, it won’t last nearly as long.
The same goes for a tyre that has been fixed. A properly patched tyre can last up to 10 years, as long as the place where the hole was patched doesn’t cause problems.
Is Patching a Tire Worth It?
The answer will depend on what kind of hole you have and how well your tyres are in general.
If the fix is simple and the place where it is is easy to fix, then yes, it is worth it. But if your tyres are already showing signs of wear, it’s best to get a whole new set.
Should You Use a Tire Plug or a Patch?
For decades, people have been arguing about which of these two ways is the best way to fix a flat tire. In 2012, the New York State Legislature tried to pass a law that would have made it illegal to use plugs or patches on their own.
Even though the law didn’t pass, other government agencies are very sure that both methods should be used together.
The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA, which used to be called the Rubber Manufacturers Association) and the Tire Industry Association (TIA) say in their “Tire Repair Basics” that “a plug or patch by itself is not a good repair.”
This is because a plug doesn’t permanently seal the inner liner, and a patch doesn’t completely seal the hole made by the sharp, penetrating object. This lets water get into the tire, which wears down the steel belts over time.
This isn’t a simple question to answer because the damage to the tyres will depend on where the hole is and how big it is. The cost of both of these ways to fix your car might also affect what you decide to do.