No matter how big of a car enthusiast you are and how much time you invest in taking care of your vehicle, there will always be some situations when you wouldn’t be able to control the events.
While you can certainly control what’s under the hood, you can’t be sure what’s on the road, and now and then, you come across some tiny, sharp objects that are bound to get your tire damaged immediately needing your attention.
It’s not recommended to straight-away get your tire replaced as they don’t come in cheap. By first inspecting the damage done, you can quickly patch it up all by yourself, saving yourself a decent amount of time and money.
This guide will tell you all about patching the tire up yourself, but first, let’s see how can you figure out if patching or plugging would work or there’s no option left but to get it replaced.
1. Is It a Cut or a Puncture?
If its a cut you’re dealing with here, there is, unfortunately, nothing that can be done, and the only solution is to get your vehicle a new tire. However, a cut of less than 1/4 inch can be repaired, not a fraction more than that.
However, if its puncture, it can be fixed easily, but again, it highly depends on the size. A puncture of less than 1/4 inch can be fixed, and a bigger one would take the strength of the tire away.
2. Where Is the Damage Located?
If the previous conditions are fulfilled, the next thing is to check the puncture location. There are certain areas which, if affected, would require you to get a replacement.
The puncture shouldn’t be on the sidewalls and be at least 2 inches away from them. The reason being sidewall flexing too much while you drive so patching them up would loosen the puncture very quickly.
Furthermore, one last requirement, the shoulder should also be puncture-free, with the damage being two or more inches away from it. Now, if you’re lucky enough to pass all these conditions, let’s jump to the real deal, patching the tire up yourself.
Patching the Tire Up
There are various steps involved in patching up a tire. You first have to find a leak, remove the tire, patch it up and then, of course, installing it back, and you’ll be ready to go. We’ll see all the details in a step by step manner so you can easily follow the procedure.
1. Finding the Leak
- For the leak to be discovered, it’s important that the tire is appropriately pressurized. However, the pressure varies from vehicle to vehicle, and we will recommend you to check the manual to know yours if you don’t already, and get the tire inflated up to that level.
- Now that you have to find the leak, you can use several techniques, the first one recommended is to try your luck with your natural senses. See if you can see any sharp, tiny object stuck to the tire or any damage. If you cannot, however, see any damage, you can listen for hissing sounds coming out from the tire or feel around the tire for air. In case any of these methods worked, you can skip the rest of the steps and jump straight to uninstalling tire.
- Make a solution of soap and water and nicely cover the tire with it, it’s much likely that you will see some bubbling up where the puncture is located. However, be sure to cover the tire with it totally, you can also spray it using a sprayer if needed.
2. Removing the Tire
Now that you know the location of the damage and you’re sure where to patch the tire up, you can continue with taking the tire off to patch it.
However, if you’re aware of the procedure of removing the tire and separating it from the rim, you can jump straight to step 3.
- Loosen the nuts using a wrench before jacking the vehicle up to prevent the weight of the vehicle still being supported by the wheels.
- Get a jack if you don’t already have one. You can refer to your vehicle manual if you don’t know about the safe spots under your vehicle to put the jack at. And don’t forget to do this on a hard surface.
- Once the vehicle is jacked up, you can undo all the nuts and the lugs from the tires. The nuts should be loose enough till now to be doable by hand.
- If any tiny object that incurred the damage is still stuck to the tire, remove it first before moving on.
- Remove the part of the tire that’s holding the pressure in the tire, the valve stem core.
- Now that the tire is no more pressurized, you can break the bead between the tire and the rim to separate them easily. A hammer may be needed to achieve it.
- Get one side of the tire onto the groove, which is made to hold the tire.
- Once into the side of the tire, make the spoon go all the way around the tire to take this side fully off of the rim.
- Now, repeat what you did for the other side of the tire as well, and you’re done with separating the tire and the rim.
3. Patching the Tire Up
Now that the tire is removed from the vehicle and separated from the rim as well, you ready to begin with the patching process. Let’s dive in!
- First off, you need to clean out the puncture so later when you patch it up, the debris would not cause any trouble and would sit firmly. Air dies grinder is usually recommended for this.
- Spray a pre-buff cleaner on the inside of the tire where the patch is meant to be installed.
- Now that you’re done with buffing, you need to clean that area as well and remove any debris; you can use a spray compressed air to the area to achieve that.
- Apply cement to the area you just buffed inside of the tire. Wait until the cement is not in a liquid state anymore.
- Get the patch that you have to install on the damaged area. Make sure you get a good quality patch as it highly depends upon it and how long does it hold onto the tire. Open the wrapper up, removing the plastic from the tire that’s meant to stick on to the damaged area.
- Now that the patch is ready to be installed push it through the tread of the tire from the inside and use a pliers from the outside to push it out.
- Make sure you insert the pointy end from the inside of the tire; this helps to pull the sticky part to the inside of the tire so that the patch gets installed as tight as it could be.
- Now, there is a possibility that the patch may not be very tightly installed and bubbles may have been introduced within it, indicating it needs tightening. The solution is to use a rolled and make sure all the bubbles disappear, and the patch gets sealed fully.
- Use a side cutter to get rid of the stem of the patch on the outside of the tire.
- To further make sure of avoiding the leaks, use a rubber patch sealant as well.
- Wait of the patch to get dried up, and we’re done!
4. Re-installing The Tire
So, we’re finally done with patching up the tire; hence, our main objective is satisfied. The only step that awaits our attention now is re-installing the tire so we can start driving our vehicle out again without any leakage problems in the tire. Let’s get it done with.
- For re-installing the tire and the rim, It is first recommended to lubricate the inner area of the tire with soapy water to make the connection with the rim back easier. This can be skipped if you’re familiar with getting the tire back on the rim and are comfortable doing it without lubrication.
- Repeat the exact opposite procedure you used to get the tire off the rim. Open up one side of the tire and get it on the rim.
- Spoon all the way around to complete.
- Repeat the same for the other side of the tire, as well.
- Put the valve stem core back to its place.
- Pressurize the tire to the appropriate level.
- Re-install the tire onto its position and tighten the nuts on the tire to where they belong. Don’t tighten them up fully before you uninstall the jack.
- When the nuts are untightened enough to support the vehicle’s weight, un-jack the vehicle.
- Now the vehicle is on its own wheels, tighten them up fully using a long wrench, remember to follow the star pattern, however.
Although this DIY method to patch your tire can do wonders however, we recommend you not to take it casually as tires are safety critical parts of the vehicle. So, don’t compromise on them if they have worn out indefinitely and simply change them, instead of patching.