June 30, 2019
We’ve all been there - you’re in a rush to leave for work in the morning, or you’re about to leave to get groceries, or heading to town to meet up with friends, and you step out of the house only to find that you’ve got a flat tire. Oh no! What do you do? Should you put some air in it and hope it’ll get you to your destination, spray some fix-a-flat in it, attempt to patch it, or call a professional?
The solution really depends on how large the puncture is, where the puncture is located, and how quickly you spotted the damage. Sure, repairing the tire might be the most cost-effective option, but not if it’s at the expense of the safety of you and your passengers! Industry guidelines usually allow punctures up to 1/4” in diameter to be repaired safely, based on where the damage was done. Any puncture that occurs to the sidewall or shoulder of the tire is unable to be repaired, no matter how small. If the puncture is irregular, long and straight, or larger than 1/4” in diameter, your tire won’t be able to be repaired properly. Long cuts can mean that your tire’s belts have been damaged, which results in reduced durability in your tire.
Today’s tires have lower profiles. The shorter sidewalls make it easier to cause permanent damage to a tire when you drive it under-inflated. So much heat is generated that it can break down the sidewall in seconds. You can damage your tire beyond repair just by driving it as little distance as it takes to move from the fast lane to the shoulder. So if your puncture does occur while you’re driving, never try to limp it along! This is a sure-fire way to ensure your tire is damaged beyond repair.
A slow leak from a nail or screw that’s gotten lodged in your tire is a good candidate for repair. Tire repairs are relatively inexpensive, and can even be free if you have a tire warranty. If done right, your repaired tire will be safe to drive on for its original full life.
We don’t recommend patching your tires yourself. Why? Because although it seems like a simple job, it must be done correctly to protect the nylon and steel cords in your tire from more damage. If you drive a plug in at the wrong angle, this can break more of the internal cords that strengthen your tire, causing permanent damage. Spray Repair kits can help you in a pinch, but there’s a good possibility that they’ll cost you in the long run. Sprays can damage your TPMS sensors, which can cost anywhere from $45 to $200 to replace. On top of all this, safety is always the highest priority. Your tires are the only part of your vehicle that come in direct contact with the road, so it’s important to make sure you repair them properly.
When working on a punctured tire, our tire technicians will first identify where the leak is coming from, and make sure there are no others by submerging the tire and wheel in water. Next, they’ll dismount the tire, inspect the inside of it for structural damage, and inspect the outside to make sure there’s significant tread left on it to make sure it’s worth repairing.
Got a flat tire on your vehicle? Give our tire experts a call at 360-425-3933 or bring the tire into our shop at the corner of Commerce Ave and Tennant Way. We should be able to quickly give you an idea on whether the tire can be safely repaired, or if you’ll need to buy a new one. Either way, you’ll be sorted out and safely back on the road in short order!