Buying and running a vehicle isn't usually an inexpensive thing to do, and most of us are aware of how important routine maintenance is. We know we have to have our vehicle serviced at regular intervals as recommended by the manufacturer, and most of us know about keeping up with oil and water levels and making sure wipers are in good condition. However, among the most important things we need to look after, which also experience more wear and tear than just about anything else on a vehicle, are also among the most neglected: the tires.
Of course, looking after your tires and checking them regularly doesn't guarantee you won't get a flat, but it will help to keep you safe as long as you change them when worn and it will reduce the chances of getting a puncture. If you do get a puncture or your tire keeps slowly deflating, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to buy a new tire. If there's plenty of life left in your tire and the damage isn't too severe, it makes a lot of sense to get it repaired.
So, when you realize you have a problem with your tire, the first thing you should do is change it for the spare wheel. If your spare wheel is a small space-saver, make sure you adhere to the recommended speed limitations as it's only stop-gap and designed to get you to a repairer. It's also important you get your damaged tire seen to as soon as possible because if it's a steel belted radial, as most are today, it needs to be repaired right away to reduce the chances of long term deterioration started by the puncture.
Not all punctures can be repaired, and although just about any sharp object on the road can be the cause of a puncture, the majority of punctures are the result of damage from small nails and screws usually less than a quarter-inch in diameter. That's important as guidelines only allow punctures in a tire's tread to be repaired if the damaged area is up to a maximum of a quarter of an inch in diameter. Repairing tread punctures larger than that in the tire's shoulder and sidewall areas isn't recommended.
Plugging a tire from the outside without removing the tire from the wheel isn't a proper solution, although it can be a temporary fix in remote areas when off-roading without an available spare. Even then, a plug must only be seen as a temporary, low-speed fix and it must still be properly repaired as soon as possible.
There's probably a lot more to repairing a tire than most people might imagine. There are a large number of different rubber compounds that are used in the making a modern tire, and the inner liner of the tire makes use of a special compound with the ability to better retain air. Once this inner liner has been punctured it has to be cleaned, buffed, cemented, patched and specially coated in order to retain its air-retaining capability. As this procedure can only be done from the inside of the tire, it's yet another reason why a plug-only repair isn't a long-term solution.
A speed rated tire that gets a puncture brings with it some additional issues you need to consider. Even though some tire manufacturers say they will "allow" a tire to keep its speed rating if the prescribed repair procedure is followed to the letter, others take a different view. The majority believe that as they have no control over any additional damage caused by the puncture or over the repair quality, they're unable to confirm the tire should retain its previous high speed capability after the repair. The policy in these situations is for a punctured and repaired tire to no longer retain its original speed rating, and it's therefore recommended that it should be treated the same as a non-speed rated tire.
The bottom line is that if you get a puncture in an otherwise sound tire and you follow the safe and correct procedures, you could get it repaired for considerably less than the price of a new one. If you have a tire in the trunk needing a repair, or even if you think you may have a puncture in one of your tires, give the folks at Simi Valley Ford
a call for expert advice on what you should do.