It can happen to the best of us and ruin our day. In the worst cases, it can put us in grave danger.
A punctured tire is always a tremendous headache, and unfortunately, it can’t always be repaired.
In this article, you’ll read everything you need to know if this unfortunate situation arrives and to make sure you’re safe behind the wheel.
How Tire Patches Work
In the unfortunate situation that you get your tire punctured, there are two options you can choose: plugs or patches. This article will deal with the latter. While plugs are rather superficial fixes – which make them perfect for emergencies – patches are more solid and, in turn, more laborious repairs. You probably won’t be able to do it on the roadside, but they’ll last much longer.
Patches must be applied from inside the tire, which means you’ll have to take your tire off. That’s the advantage of patching your punctured tire because it’s easier to analyze the extent of the damage.
After the puncture point is located precisely, the sides of the hole must be filed smooth. Then, the patch is applied with the support of vulcanizing cement. A repair sealer should finish the job. Finally, inflate your tire again and cut the plug.
Once your tire is patched, you shouldn’t stretch it too much, with long and fast-speed journeys. Still, not all tires are fixable. Holes bigger than ¼ of an inch are technically possible to patch, but it’s not viable in the long run. If the puncture is located on the side of the tire, it’s also impossible to fix it.
How Close to The Sidewall Can a Tire Be Patched?
As a general rule of thumb, if the puncture is within 1" of the shoulder, it wont be safe to patch it.
Understanding Sidewall Patches
A tire’s surface is composed of three parts: crown, shoulders, and sidewalls. Crowns are the thickest part, which is in contact with the asphalt. Shoulders are also sturdy and are on the outer sides of the crown. Sidewalls are the lateral parts of the tire.
They’re smoother than the other parts and protect the cord plies. Tire information, such as type and size, is displayed on this part of the tire. A sidewall determines a tire’s height and also shields it against the impact of debris or other objects.
A sidewall is composed of different layers, although the number and composition of those layers may vary between tires. This information is also imprinted on this part. Usually, this part is composed of polyester layers, but some tires also add another layer of nylon. Those features make any puncture on this part irreparable.
Regardless of the type of tire, the closer the puncture is to the sidewall, the harder it is to patch it. This is because of the way sidewalls are built. The steel rings on their sides are pretty thin and difficult to mend. It can be temporarily patched for an emergency, but the tire’s performance will never be the same again.
Poorly sealed punctures allow for moisture to infiltrate within the tire’s layers, degrading it from the inside. Steel belts and bonds corrode silently, which can lead to tread separation.
Your car’s performance won’t be the same either. It can affect your car’s drivability and fuel efficiency. There’s a significant chance it will blow out again, putting everyone in the vehicle at risk.
Remember, a trained professional must do this sort of repair, as a poorly done repair can result in fatal accidents. Any puncture closer than an inch to the sidewall is beyond mending and should not be patched. This tire, instead, should be replaced.
In extreme situations, when there’s no other help available, and you need to choose between driving with a punctured tire or with a patch or plug on the sidewall, don’t think twice, always go for the latter.
Driving for too long with a flat tire can render the tire and wheel irreparable. In this case, drive the least you can to the nearest place where you can replace it. If the puncture is on the sidewall, it’s beyond safe repair since nothing will probably stick there.
Even if the hole is at a safe distance from the sidewall, you should observe if there is any other patch or plug close to it. Usually, those mends should be no closer than 16”. If you drive off-road or for long distances frequently, consider buying a more resistant tire.
Why Can’t You Repair a Puncture in The Sidewall?
There are several risks in attempting to do so. Tire shops must abide by strict safety standard guidelines set by the tire industry. It means they aren’t allowed to repair your tire if it’s punctured in the no-luck zone.
Sidewalls sustain most of the weight and pressure of your vehicle while you’re driving. So, any damage here weakens the whole tire structure seriously. There are no cords on this part of the tire; that’s why it’s so soft. Because of that, patches on this part won’t stick properly and, consequently, won’t prevent leakage.
Plugs won’t be able to fix it either. Besides, it severely compromises your tire’s performance, thus compromising your safety as well. It can blow out even if you’re driving at a slow speed.
Even in run-flat tires, where sidewalls are much more reinforced, a puncture is fatal. Run-flat tires’ reinforced sidewalls support the car’s weight if the air chamber deflates. So, a cut on this part defeats the whole system. The same happens with self-sealing tires, which don’t have sealant layers on this part of the tire.
Patching your tire should not be a long-term solution, as those patches can leave you in dire straits at any moment. Still, any solution will be better than driving on a flat tire, not only for the damages it can cause the wheel but also the risk it poses to you and anyone with you in the car.
People Also Ask
Still, have questions? Awareness is the key to safety, and you really must know the main features of your tires. So, if an unfortunate occasion arrives, you have the proper knowledge to deal with it safely. Here, you can gather additional information about your tires’ health.
Is it Worth Patching a Tire?
If the puncture is within the repairable area and there’s no other puncture nearer than 16 inches from it, it’s possible to repair it. Patching a tire may be necessary when there’s no step tire available and you need to keep driving. Yet, it shouldn’t be a definitive solution.
How Long Can You Drive on a Patched Tire?
Technically, a patch can last from eight to 10 years if done correctly. Yet, it’s not recommended to patch it more than once. Patches won’t restore your speed rate and performance. Besides, there’s always the risk of blowouts.
If you value your tire’s performance and safety, you should replace it as soon as possible.
What is the Repairable Area on a Tire?
The repairable area corresponds to the parts that can successfully hold a patch or a plug. Those areas are the crown and the shoulders. Yet, if you’re patching a second puncture, it should be at least 16 inches from the other patch. Sidewalls aren’t part of the repairable area.
What is Considered Sidewall Damage?
Sidewall damage is any damage located on the vertical part of the tire. It could be a puncture, or maybe a piece of it that has fallen apart. Bulges and abrasions are also red flags. This kind of damage is beyond any possible repair and calls for immediate replacement of the tire.