To Fix. Or Not to Fix (a flat tire). That is the Question
From the moment anyone installs a tire, it is vulnerable to being punctured. The average tires experience millions of revolutions throughout their lifespan. Each revolution is a possibility for puncturing a tire! So, multiply that by the number of tires on your vehicle, then by the number of vehicles in your stable; it is more a matter of when, not if you will need to fix a flat tire.
What actions need to be taken?
Upon puncture of the inner liner of a tire, the most immediate concern is the loss of air pressure. Whereas, the long-term risk is the instability around the penetrating object leading to tread separation. So, whether the tire is immediately losing air (in which case, do not drive on it), or if the tire is able to hold air pressure, you must address it as soon as possible.
- Only tire service technicians who are trained to evaluate and perform a proper repair should handle the fix and installation. Here at Tread Connection RTP, our tire technicians are TIA-certified, and we can definitely inform you how to proceed.
- To thoroughly inspect a flat tire, a tire technician needs to remove the tire from the wheel. Many times, a simple object such as a nail in the tread can result in severe damage to the sidewall that cannot be seen on the outside of the tire. Therefore, we do not recommend on-the-wheel wheel repairs like string plugs (consider them as a temporary fix).
- The only way to properly fix a flat tire is to demount it from the rim so it can be inspected on the inside, remove the damaged material, fill the void with rubber, and seal the inner liner with a repair unit.
Can you fix a flat tire?
Ultimately, yes, you can fix a flat tire, but not all! There are a few things to note.
- A plug by itself or a patch by itself is not an acceptable repair! Why? Plugs do not permanently seal the inner liner and patches do not fill the void left by the penetrating object (which allows water to enter the body of the tire and corrode the steel belts).
- The use of sealants or emergency inflators that contain a sealant are not recommended as long-term solutions to a flat tire for the same reasons as stated above.
In addition, puncture repairs are limited to the center of the tread area (see picture above). If there are punctures or damage in the shoulder or sidewall of the tire, it is not repairable!