Not all tire punctures require a new tire. In fact, some flats can be repaired in about 15 minutes. So, before you run to the shop and spend hundreds on new treads, check out these tips for evaluating the damage and how to fix a flat tire.
Buy a Kit
Before you can do anything with a damaged tire, you need a tire repair kit. These can be found at any auto repair store for around $10. To make sure it’s available when you need it, keep the kit in your car or trunk. You always want to be prepared to fix a flat tire before you need to.
Remove and Examine the Tire
To get a thorough look at the damage, you’ll need to remove the flat tire from the car. If you’ve never done this before, look in the owner’s manual and use the spare tire tools that came with your vehicle. Also, make sure you have a safe place in which to work (try to avoid pulling along the side of a busy highway). If you can’t find a safe space to work, call in the professionals.
Once you’re out of harm’s way, closely evaluate the tire, paying special attention to the tread and sidewall. If you can’t see an object that has punctured the tire, you’ll have to try another method: 1) inflate the tire as full as it can go; 2) spray the tire with a soap and water solution (anything that creates bubbles); 3) look for bubbles that gurgle…they’ll show you where the leak is.
Make a Mark
Get a piece of tape (colored tape or duct tape works best) and put it right below or above the damaged spot. If there’s a nail or object in your tire, take a pen and mark the spot where it enters the tire. This will let you find the hole after you’ve removed the impediment.
Remove the Object
At this point, it’s safe to remove the object (you might need pliers for this part). You’ll need the tire on a stable surface so it doesn’t roll away. Chasing a tire around can make this process frustrating.
Ream and Thread
Now, get your tire plug kit and find the tool that resembles a file with a handle. Take the tool and jam it into the hole, moving it up and down to create a bigger hole on the inside. Pump it in and out a couple of times for good measure.
Next, find the tar worms from the kit and peel one of them off. Thread it through the tool with an eye (it looks like a giant sewing needle). You’ll probably have to pinch the end to get it through, but it should fit until it’s centered in the eye.
With the plugging tool in hand, stick the end of the tool into the tire hole. After it’s in a little, press down so the plug sinks completely into the hole (about half an inch should stick out). Then, pull the tool straight out. The plug should stay in the hole, and you can cut off the end. Finally, fill your tire until it’s adequately pressurized and affix it back on the vehicle.
For all your vehicle’s maintenance and repair needs, call Fairfax Auto Repair at 703-822-5911 and schedule an appointment today!