Should I Repair or Replace My Tire?
It’s early in the morning, and you are walking out the door to head to work. As you walk up to your car, you notice your tire is flat. “I just bought these tires two months ago,” you think. Unfortunately, no matter how new your tires are, they are always susceptible to being damaged by nails or other debris in the road. Can it be replaced, or will you have to buy a new tire?
Is Tire Repair an Option?
The first factor when deciding if your tire can be replaced will be how long you drove on the tire before noticing and responding to the puncture. Driving for any period of time on a low or flat tire can severely damage the tire sidewalls causing hidden damage within the tire. The tire will need to be thoroughly inspected by completely dismounting it before attempting any repair.
Another factor will be the size, location and type of puncture to the tire. Industry guidelines typically allows punctures up to ¼” in diameter to safely be repaired, based on the location of the damage. Any puncture on the sidewall or shoulder of the tire cannot be repaired no matter the size. If the puncture is irregular, long and straight, or larger than ¼” in diameter, the tire is not a candidate for repair. Long cuts can mean the tire’s belts have been damaged, resulting in reduced durability of your tire.
We recommend taking your tire to a professional and not attempting a repair yourself. They will be able to properly inspect your tire and repair it to ensure the tire is returned to its pre-damage condition. We know a flat tire can be an inconvenience, and replacing the tire can be an expensive cost. However, safety is the highest priority. Your tires are the only part of your vehicle that come in direct contact with the road, so it’s extremely important to keep them in proper working condition.
When is Tire Plugging an Option for Tire Repair?
A tire plug is performed using malleable rubber that when inserted into a puncture will expand and trap air from getting out. Tire plugging should be a temporary fix for a damaged tire and not a permanent solution for proper tire repair. It is safe to drive with a tire plug for a short time, as the intent of the repair is to allow the car to be drivable so that you can reach the tire store. A plug can only be used on small holes — those up to ¼ inch in diameter. Tire plugs should only be used on the tread of the tire, not on or near the sidewalls.
The ability to repair the damaged tire instead of replacing it will depend on how large the puncture is, where the puncture is located and how quickly you spotted the damage. Sure, repairing the tire is the most cost-effective option but not at the expense of you and your passengers’ safety. Before deciding to repair your tire versus buying a new one, you’ll want to ensure your tire is a good candidate for a repair.
When to Replace a Damaged Tire
Nobody wants to replace a new tire or a tire with plenty of tread still left. But the reality is that our safety should always come first. Your tires are your most important automotive part and the only automotive part that touches the road. The deciding factors on whether a tire can be repaired depend on how much damage has occurred and where the damage is located. The following situations will always warrant a new tire:
- Any damage to the shoulder or sidewall of the tire
- Large holes anywhere in the tire of more than ¼” in diameter
- Evidence of any severe damage, such as tread separation or large gashes
- The tire is damaged in a previously repaired area
The most important thing to remember is that any tire damage is a safety hazard and should be dealt with immediately. Your tires need to be checked and maintained regularly for damage, wear and tear, and lifespan. Replacing damaged tires is always safer, but some tire damage can be safely repaired to give you thousands of miles more use from your tire.