Motorists should always be aware of their tires and watch for any signs that they might need to replace them. Of course, it's important to get the right tire, but it is equally important to keep an eye on your tread depth and look for patches or bubbles in the tire. If you notice these things, you may want to get a new set of tires before driving too far.
The post will discuss how patching a tire can help drivers avoid purchasing new ones when plenty of miles are still left on their current set. You may not know it, but you should be checking your tires for damage regularly. It is essential to remember that even though the tire looks fine, there could be an existing puncture or other problem.
Having a flat tire is definitely not anyone's idea of fun, but you can prevent this experience altogether by checking your tires regularly. How long does a tire patch last? Click here to know more!
What Is Patching and How Is it Done?
Patching is a method of fixing a flat or punctured tire by sealing the hole in the tire rubber with a patch.
The accepted procedure is to find the rupture and swab it with a soapy water solution to seal punctured tire rubber. Or, you may hold it inside a tank of water and look for escaping bubbles of air.
The cut or punctured area is then prepared with a scraper or buffing tool and cleaning solution to make it suitable for bonding with the repair patch.
A vulcanizing cement is applied under the patch and over the inner liner of the tire. Then, put the patch over the puncture and stitch it all around. You can also roll and cover the patch with sealant before mounting the tire back on the rim.
A correctly patched tire will have a longer lifetime. However, remember that you cannot fix a tire by patching if the hole is on the sidewall or its adjacent areas.
First, it's important to understand whether your tire needs a patch, plug, or replaced completely.
A tire plug is a sticky, expandable substance that gets stuffed in a hole in the tire from the outside and is wedged in until the air stops leaking out. However, the plug should easily stay intact well enough to re-inflate the tire and get safely to a repair shop.
Most tire repair specialists feel there is a better option for plugging tires. It's called a radial patch. Radial patches are specifically designed to repair radial tires used on most vehicles on the road today. Patching a tire with a radial patch can take about 20 to 30 minutes, while installing a plug takes only a few minutes and usually can be done while the tire is still on the car. Often, it is necessary to vulcanize the tire patch, a process that uses heat and curing agents to reinforce the rubber of your tire.
On average, tire experts predict that a proper plug and patch can last seven to ten years. Although tire patches can last a long time, a tire should never be patched more than once. It can negatively affect the speed rating and potentially cause blowouts.
Whenever your tire becomes punctured and requires a repair, consult your tire service centre and let them determine what type of repair is needed and what is best for the life of your tires.
Driving With Low-Pressure Tires Is Dangerous
When a tire is driven with low pressure, it will destroy the inside of the tire.
If not repaired properly, it could pose a threat to your life since the tire can potentially blow out while on the road and cause an accident.
Having a flat tire emergency? It's high time to get a patch repair service that should be done regularly. It can help save you a lot of time and money.
Patch Only Repair
When tire rubber is punctured, the accepted procedure is to find the rupture and swab around it with a soapy solution of water, or he may hold it inside a tank of water and look for escaping bubbles of air.
The area is then prepared with a scraper or buffing tool and cleaning solution to make it suitable for bonding with the repair patch.
A vulcanizing cement is then applied under the patch and over the tire's inner liner, and the patch is applied over the puncture. The surrounding area is then stitched or rolled and covered with sealant before the tire is mounted back on the rim.
Once a tire is properly patched, you should be able to drive safely for a fairly long time. However, even though a patch is usually stronger than a plug, it will not work on or near a sidewall.
The tire industry, however, warns against the patch only repair method. This is because air and moisture can seep into the tire from the outside tread and enter around the patch's edges.
Plug-only repair is much simpler. First, the technician finds the puncturing object and removes it. Next, an insertion tool with a plug is inserted into the rupture from outside the tire. After it is removed, the plug remains inside the rupture.
This type of repair often uses a "string plug" consisting of a short woven cord covered with an adhesive sealant. String plugs will often be included with automobile repair kits. Both reaming and insertion tools are also included, along with an assortment of string plugs.
Occasionally a kit can also contain a tube of rubber cement to add additional sealant to the string plug. These kits can be an alternative for drivers who want to save a little money or for emergencies when it's not possible to dismount the tire and properly apply a patch.
However, even though tires repaired this way will continue to hold air for a few months, tire manufacturers also warn against its use. A string plug repair can allow moisture and air to enter the tire and get between the tire layers.
The steel in the belts can then degrade over time, and the tire can rust and deteriorate. In addition, with the belts and the bond between the rubber layers weakened, there is a greater risk the tread will separate while driving.
Another risk of a string plug type of tire repair is that even when a puncture is repaired, there can be additional damage to the tire that is not apparent. Therefore, the tire must be removed and visually examined to ensure there is no unusual internal damage.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises that the proper method to repair a tire puncture is to use a combination repair. As the name implies, a combination repair involves using a tire repair patch and a rubber plug (stem) attached to its centre.
After finding the puncture, it should be reamed out so that a clean hole remains for insertion of the plug. The inside area surrounding the puncture should be then prepared for bonding with the patch with a vulcanizing cement.
Apply the cement to the tire surface area and the patch/plug. The plug should then be pulled through the reamed hole from outside the tire to fill the hole and seal it with the tire's rubber.
The patch will bond to the tire to prevent air loss. The plug seals the puncture, and air cannot escape. The plug also will seal the hole and prevent air and moisture from leaking.
How Long Does a Tire Last?
Carmakers, tiremakers and rubber manufacturers differ in their opinions about the lifespan of a tire. Unfortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has no specific guidelines on tire aging and defers to the recommendations of carmakers and tire manufacturers.
Many automakers, including Ford, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz, tell owners to replace tires six years after their production date, regardless of tread life. However, tire manufacturers such as Continental and Michelin say a tire can last up to 10 years, provided you get annual tire inspections after the fifth year.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association said there is no way to put a date on when a tire "expires" because such factors as heat, storage, underinflation and conditions of use can dramatically reduce the life of a tire. Here's more on each of these factors:
Heat: NHTSA research has found that tires age more quickly in warmer climates. NHTSA also found that environmental conditions, such as exposure to sunlight and coastal climates, can hasten to age. Therefore, people who live in coastal states and other areas with warm weather should keep this in mind when deciding whether to retire a tire.
Storage: This applies to spare tires and tires that are sitting in a garage or shop. A tire that has not been mounted and is just sitting in a tire shop or your garage will age more slowly than one put into service on a car. But it ages nonetheless.
Spares: They usually don't see the light of day, but they're still degrading with time. If the tire has been inflated and mounted on a wheel, it is considered "in service," even if it's never been used. And if a truck's spare is mounted underneath the vehicle, it's exposed to heat, dirt and weather — all reasons to plan on replacement.
Conditions of use: This refers to how the tire is treated. Is it properly inflated? Underinflation causes more tire wear. Has it hit the curb too many times? Has it ever been repaired for a puncture? Tires on a car that's only driven on the weekends will age differently from those on a car that's driven daily on the highway. All these factors contribute to how quickly or slowly a tire wears out.
Proper maintenance is the best thing a person can do to ensure a long tire life. Therefore, it is important to maintain proper air pressure in tires, rotate them regularly and get routine inspections.
How to Determine the Age of a Tire
The sidewall of a tire is covered in numbers and letters. They all mean something, but deciphering them can be a challenge. This Edmunds article about reading a tire's sidewall goes into greater detail. But to determine the age of a tire, you need to know its U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number.
Tires made after 2000 have a four-digit DOT code. The first two numbers represent the week in which the tire was made. The second two represent the year. For example, a tire with a DOT code of 1116 was made in the 11th week of 2016.
Tires made before 2000 have a three-digit code that is trickier to decode. The first two digits still indicate the week, but the third digit tells you the year in the decade that the tire was created. The hard part is knowing what decade that was. Some tires made in the 1990s (but not all) have a triangle after the DOT code, denoting that decade. But for tires without that, a code of "328" could be from the 32nd week of 1988 — or 1978. Of course, you can ignore all that: If you see a DOT number ending in three digits, the tire was made in the last century and needs to be replaced as soon as possible.
These DOT numbers weren't designed with everyday buyers in mind. They were originally put on tires to make it easier for NHTSA to recall tires and keep track of their manufacturing date.
To make matters worse, you might not always find the full DOT number on the outer side of the tire. Because of the way a tire is made, it is safer for the technician operating the mould to imprint information on the inner side of the tire, so some manufacturers will opt to put the number there. It is still possible to check the DOT code, but you might have to jack the car up to see it. So keep the visibility of the DOT number in mind the next time you are at a tire shop, and the installer asks if you want the tires to be mounted with the raised lettering facing in.
After checking out a tire's birthdate, give the rubber a visual inspection. Some of the best advice on such an inspection comes from the British Tyre Manufacturers' Association. It recommends that consumers check tires regularly for any sign of aging, such as tread distortion or large or small hairline cracks in the sidewall. Vibrations or a change in the dynamic properties of the tire could also be an indicator of aging problems, the association said. It recommends replacing the tire immediately if such symptoms appear.
Tires are expensive, especially when you factor in the price of mounting and balancing. That's why used tires become more attractive to people strapped for cash, so some small and major shops continue to offer used tires as an alternative. But when you buy a used tire, you have no idea how well it was maintained or the conditions in which it was used. The previous owner might have driven it with low pressure. It could have hit curbs repeatedly. It could have been patched for a nail. Then, of course, you can check its age, but it's better to avoid it entirely.
Frequently Asked Questions About Patched Tire
A patched tire means a patch sealant is applied to the outside of the tire where the leak is located. A patch can be done to a tire with a small puncture that has not caused much damage to the tire itself. To put a patch on a tire, the entire tire has to be taken off, so it is best to have a mechanic do it, as they will have all the proper tools.
For the most part, a properly patched tire should allow you to drive safely for a long period. However, there still are some concerns. Here are some things to know about driving with a patched tire safety:
A patch can be a stronger repair than a plug, yet it is not designed to be used on or near a sidewall. A tire patch should only be done by a trained technician who knows what they are doing. If your tire needs to be patched or you notice a leak, contact your mechanic so you can have your tire fixed as soon as possible.
If you have had a flat tire for more than a couple hundred yards, there is potential for the sidewall of your tire to be damaged. If this happens, the sidewalls can rub against themselves and become damaged. This damage is shown by a strip of wear around the tire that is soft to the touch. If you notice this, do not put air into the tire. If you put air pressure into a tire with a damaged sidewall, there is a potential the tire could blow up. This can injure you very badly.
Your vehicle can be driven with a patched tire if a mechanic has professionally fixed the tire. The mechanic knows how to stop the leak and will look for any potential sidewall damage. If the tire is damaged beyond repair, the mechanic will advise you to replace the tire. Once the mechanic patches the tire, they should advise you how long you can drive on your patched tire.
Determine the Source of the Leak
The most noticeable sign of a damaged tire is the loss of air pressure. The pressure loss could cause several different types of damage. The tire could leak air slowly, or it could blow out completely. In the case of a blowout, the damaged area is easily noticeable. For a slow leak, check the tire treads, sidewall, and tire bead beneath the edge of the rim to locate the source of the leak.
It is often easier to determine the source of damage once the tire has been removed from the vehicle. Checking for damage while the tire is removed is also more effective. The interior of the tire will show if the inner liner is intact or damaged. Sidewall chafing can cause the tire to crumble into fragments. Having a flat tire is inconvenient, but you must assess the full extent of the damage instead of hastily checking the tire. Using a weakened or poorly repaired tire is unsafe.
Other Sources of Leaks
A flat tire may not always be caused by a puncture or cut in the tire. Instead, the valve stem on the tire may be the source of the leak. Over time, the valve stem may crack because of normal wear and tear. If the valve stem is the source of your leak, it can usually be repaired by having the valve stem replaced.
Cars with aluminium alloy wheels may cause leaking. This is because alloy wheels sometimes allow air to escape from between the tire and the wheel. Drivers with aluminium alloy wheels should check their tire pressure regularly because of the leaking that can occur. This problem can be fixed by using a sealant on the wheels.
In most cases, flat tires are caused by a puncture. A tire can be repaired if it is flat because of a puncture or split less than ¼ inch in length. The puncture can be repaired using patches and plugs. Tires that have a viable tread depth of less than 1/16 inch should be replaced. Therefore, you must check the usable tread depth that remains before you attempt a repair.
Often patches and plugs do not work well on their own. A plug may seal the outside, but it does not necessarily seal the inside of the tire. Likewise, a patch will seal the inside but not necessarily the outside. A plug patch can be used to repair a damaged tire more effectively. A plug patch combines a plug and a patch that repairs the tire from the inside and outside.
Tire Tread Repair
Plugs are typically better than patches for small punctures. A plug can be used to repair tire tread with small punctures up to ¼ inch in diameter. Patches are typically better suited for cuts, abrasions, or splits on the tire.
Tires with a cracked or split sidewall cannot be safely repaired. Additionally, if the part of the tire that sits on the wheel is cracked or split, it cannot be safely repaired. In these cases, the tire will need to be replaced. You must check your wheels closely, as well. If there is a defect in the wheel, it could be the cause of the fire damage. Likewise, if the wheel is badly bent or rusted, it should be repaired or replaced.
Check the tire size written on the sidewall of your damaged tire. You can purchase new or used tires of the same size to replace the damaged tire. While they are cost-effective, used tires are typically not ideal. They will not last as long, but it is safer than driving on a damaged or worn tire. It is also safer to replace tires in pairs.
If you view your tire and you see that the hole or puncture is less than ¼ in diameter, then using a tire patch is the best way to go. Not to mention, the tire patch cost is significantly lower than other tire repair options.
Next, you need to make a note and consider the location and place of the puncture. If the puncture is between two of the tire treads, then it is a good option to use a tire patch. However, if the hole is to the shoulder or the side of the tire, then using a tire patch can cause internal damage since you will have been ignoring a bigger issue. In addition, this can require replacing a tire, which is a much higher price than the low tire patch cost.
Last, you need to check the tire's overall condition. If the puncture lies in the repair zone, then you are good to go. Wrong. If the tread measures 3/32 of an inch or less, you shouldn't choose to use a tire patch to fix the tread, despite the inexpensive tire patch cost.
To determine what tread you have, you can use a tire gauge or the tire tread indicator bar. By determining what type of tread width your vehicle uses, you can determine if the tire patch is right for you.