What to do if you have a flat tire: practical tips
What to do if a punctured tire, sometimes even experienced drivers do not know, let alone beginners. Certainly, if you have a spare tire, the decision is easier – just roll it on the roadside, jack it up, change the flat, and further according to the circumstances, depending on the damage.
What you definitely can’t do is drive on a flat tire, at the very least it needs to be inflated before moving on. And if it descends too quickly, it is time to find a tow truck – personal safety is above all and certainly more expensive than money. For a detailed algorithm of actions and ways to solve the problem of what to do if the tire is flat, read our article.
The first thing to do if you have a flat tire
The first thing to do if you have a flat tire is to take care of safety: your own and other drivers. Find a safe enough place on the side of the road and park, turn on your hazard lights and, if visibility is poor, install a portable emergency stop sign.
Before you park, carefully assess the location of your planned stop. It is important that it is convenient to approach and work from the side of the flat tire. Space will be needed when making repairs. It is a big mistake to stop in the middle of the road or in a place where parking is prohibited. Repairing a flat tire is not a three minute task, it is important to take care of a convenient and safe parking spot. It’s better to drive a little farther with a flat tire than to find out later that the spot isn’t suitable.
If you blew a tire at night or in bad weather conditions, don’t forget to wear a reflective vest and put up an emergency stop sign. This is required by traffic regulations.
You’ve parked and completed all the necessary steps to operate comfortably and safely – it’s time to get to work on repairs. Here are the options for what to do if you have a flat tire on your car.
The first, most obvious, is to replace the punctured one with a spare that you are confident in the reliability of. The damaged wheel should be removed and taken to a tire repair shop. This way you are guaranteed to get better and more reliable work than you would with self-repair.
Sometimes, however, you may have forgotten your spare tire or it is not there at all. What to do in this case? Do not worry. If there is a pump, it is quite realistic to buy some time to get to a service. Before that you need to find the place of air leakage. Most often it is a faulty spool.
To check, unscrew the tire valve and apply some water (from a bottle or just lubricate with saliva). There are air bubbles – the leak is found. It can be fixed by replacing the part. If this is not possible, then try unscrewing and re-screwing it. Did the method work? That’s great! But you should not put off going to the workshop. The valve will need to be replaced.
You have checked, but the valve is airtight. In that case, you should consider another common option for deflating tires – a puncture. If there are no visible tears, the easiest way to detect a leak is to pour water on the tire while carefully inspecting the surface for air bubbles.
If the puncture is obvious, for example, there is an object sticking out of the wheel, you should not pull it out: the wheel is not completely flat only because the foreign object covers the puncture. Once you take it out, the rate of air loss in the tires will increase many times over. The best solution is to inflate the wheel and visit the nearest tire fitting shop.
Sometimes the depressurization occurs at the rim or due to a deformed valve. Despite the difference in breakdowns, the solution here is identical to the previous one: inflate the wheel and try to get to a repairman. More often than not, the leak is so slow that there’s enough time to find a tire shop.
A frequent cause of rim air leak is a disc deformation. This happens if the car hit a pothole with sharp edges. This failure can not only affect the wheel’s deflation, but also the integrity of the disc. In this case, the disc may need to be straightened and the tire may need to be replaced.
Every time you change your tires, carefully inspect the rims. This will prevent problems with air leaking around the rim. It is worth paying attention not only to structural integrity, but also to signs of corrosion. It can also cause loss of tightness. It concerns not only steel, but also alloy wheels. A clear sign of corrosion processes is swelling of paint. If this is detected, it is worth treating the sides of the tires with a sealant. Such prevention will help to save the budget.
The most unpleasant situation with a punctured tire is the one in which there are no foreign objects in the puncture, and you are on the road without a spare or repair kit. What to do? Resort to folk methods: use a self-tapping screw to plug the hole. It happens that there is no screwdriver. It’s OK, you can easily unscrew it from some interior element in the cabin. This repair will not provide a one hundred percent impermeability, but will give enough time to get to the repair shop.
We recommend .
A Few Best Practices. When the wheel is completely flat, the best solution is to inflate it without the spool. This means you have to remove the part completely, only then pump air into the tire and put the spool back in place.
This method is worthwhile if the tire is loose around the rim. The point is that the spool itself during inflation resists the compressor, which means that the power of the car pump may not be enough. By removing the spool, you increase the air flow and are more likely to inflate the wheel. There are times when this method does not work either – not enough power. In that case, jack up the vehicle for a better fit of the tire to the disc. And try again.
Fixing a flat tire at a tire shop
You managed to put the spare on the punctured tire of the car, what to do next? Go to a tire changer. There you will be offered several options for repair.
The first is to install the harness. This method is one of the varieties of temporary repair, the easiest and cheapest. However, the most unreliable, and therefore, according to many tire experts, unworthy. However, you can still see such a service in many workshops. It is worth choosing it if speed of solving the problem rather than quality is important. For quality repair, you need to consider better options. For example, any of the following.
The second method is cold vulcanizing or, in simple terms, installing a patch. In this repair, the tire is removed, the surface around the puncture is treated with a special abrasive and the patch is glued on the inside. This method works best for lateral punctures. This method is of higher quality than installing a harness, but you will have to pay extra for disassembly and balancing services.
The third option combines the features of the previous ones. Among tire fitters it is known as “umbrella” or “mushroom”. This method is called so because of the external similarity: a “cap” (patch from the second method) is placed inside, the “leg” is a tourniquet that is pulled through the puncture, and the extra part is removed after installing the patch. It is like a double-sided sealing of the wheel: both inside and outside. The disadvantages of this option are the same as the second one – the price.
An extreme option is to install a camera. This method is an emergency and is used for tires that are beyond repair, or those in which the puncture is so serious that additional protection measures are needed. It is important to remember that most modern tires are tubeless, that is, they are designed without a camera in mind. This means that when it is installed, you should not drive on such wheels for a long time. You need to buy a new tire, and leave the repaired wheel as a spare.
Additional options for repairing a punctured wheel are combined (with a tourniquet and patch) and hot vulcanization. The first option is used for damage of an extremely specific nature, so it is quite rare. The second method is commonly used to repair lateral tire cuts longer than one centimeter, or to repair severe damage to the tread of a truck tire.
During hot vulcanization, the cut area is filled with rubber and treated with a vulcanizer. Because of the nature of the equipment, the cost of such repairs can be as much as half the cost of a new tire.
Repairing a flat tire without a tire shop
Now let’s consider other repair options when a flat tire. What to do if there is no spare? To do the repair yourself, you’ll need some special materials, which you can easily buy at an auto store if you don’t have them with you.
The fastest and cheapest way is to repair with a harness. Typically, repair harnesses come in a kit consisting of an abrasive awl, a special needle, and a sealing glue compound. The market is overflowing with offerings. To choose that repair set, which one hundred percent cope with a puncture, it is worth considering the following points:
- The awl should not be heavily ribbed. Its task is to gently pull apart the edges of the hole, so if the teeth are too sharp, it can damage the filaments of the cord.
- The glue must be included in the kit. Otherwise, a space may be left between the harness and the puncture hole, through which air will seep out.
- The harness must be reinforced so that it can be easily pushed into the puncture.
How to install it? First, use an awl to widen the hole by pushing it in and out of the puncture point a couple of times. After that, insert the harness into the eye of the needle and cover it with glue. The next step is to place the harness in the hole. To do this, insert the needle into the hole and pull it out. The tug should be sharp so that the needle comes out without the tourniquet. Once you have managed to place the harness into the hole and pull the needle out, cut the end of the harness as close to the tire surface as possible and inflate the wheel.
Repairing with a harness is easy, but also safe and inexpensive. A tire repaired in this way can last a fairly decent amount of time. If the puncture point, in which the tourniquet was installed, begins to leak air, it is possible to re-replace the tourniquet or take the car to a tire repair shop.
The obvious disadvantages of this method include the possibility of damaging the cord with sloppy work or unsuitable tools. Plus, in terms of lifespan, it loses considerably to a full repair in a workshop. Remember, a tourniquet is a temporary solution, so it’s worth contacting a professional at the earliest opportunity.
There is another fairly quick repair option – liquid sealants. The repair algorithm is simple: remove the object that caused the puncture, pour the sealant and spin the wheel so that the composition is evenly distributed inside. After that, you must pump up the wheel and, without speeding up, hit the road. It is important to give time for the sealant to be distributed in the tire cavity, for this purpose it is better to drive the first kilometers at low speed.
Repairing with sealant is much easier than installing a harness. But it is even less reliable: the larger the hole, the less chance of success this repair has. Plus, it can affect the balance. Although, when you have a flat tire on the road, what to do? You have to choose from the options that are available.
Motorists’ feedback about dealing with a punctured tire
“The summer before last, I got a flat tire on the side. The hole was so bad that I thought – that’s it, nothing can help! But the tire shop solved it quickly and clearly. They put a patch on the inside, “mushroom”, or even “umbrella” it is called. I drove on it for two summers without any problems.
“You can estimate the damage yourself. Within the limits of reasonable, of course. It is better all the same over two thousand. So as not to be unimportant from the point of view of insurers. Costs of tire fitting, price of the same but new tires and a new disk, fresh bolts or nuts and so on. There can also be hidden damage to the suspension and the car. Plus deep moral suffering – a disk and a wheel were very dear to you, they were a keepsake from your great-grandfather who died, you cried all night and estimate the damage from callousness of road workers in 10 thousand”.
We recommend .
“The manufacturer recommends changing both wheels at once so that the braking of the wheels is equally effective. All to the detriment of both balance and disc and everything else.
Road repairs are no good at all. If you can call it repair. They have some kind of polymer “sprinkler,” and they’re still using rubble. Two hours of driving and it’s all gone.”
“A tourniquet is a pretty reliable thing, I think. If you have your hands in the right place and do it carefully (cut it very straight from the inside), then the wheel will balance properly. And there’s nothing to be afraid of on the road.”
“You have to use your head in any case. You can see if the puncture or cut is not catastrophic in size. You don’t need a special skill – just taped it up and drive by yourself, don’t bother. I had so many times to seal up the holes and cuts in the tires. And nothing. All was fine on pits and bumps”.
As a conclusion it is worth noting that the problems with punctured tires will be a headache for our motorists for a long time for a known reason. And every driver needs to be prepared to deal with them on every trip. It’s better to have tire repair done at the most affordable quality level possible, because it has to do with safety on the road.
Three effective ways to easily repair a tubeless tire with your own hands
Tire punctures and cuts are a big problem for motorists. Such damage can be caused by negligence, and it can also be the result of someone’s malicious intent. It is good that the repair of puncture of tubeless tire is quite feasible with your own hands and it is not necessary to resort to the services of a tire fitting shop.
Types of damage and methods of repair
On tires can appear such defects as punctures, cuts and blowouts. But only the last type of damage is not repairable and requires replacement of the tire. The first two are quite possible to eliminate, even without resorting to specialists.
Special tools for repairing tubeless tires are sold in auto stores. There are three methods of repairing punctures and cuts. Which one to use depends on the size and nature of the damage.
Repair a puncture on the road under the power of any motorist
It is important to understand that independently repaired tire usually does not last long. It is suitable if the trouble caught the driver on the road, it can also be left as a spare wheel.
Repairing a puncture with sealant
Stores sell special compositions for car tires, both tubeless and universal. In this case, you can buy any type of remedy.
The main thing is to find the place of the puncture
Step-by-step instructions for eliminating the defect:
- remove a self-tapping screw or other stabbing object, if it remained in the tire;
- install the wheel so that the puncture is on top;
- unscrew the cap from the nipple and bleed the air;
- using the tube that comes with the sealant, connect the can to the wheel and press the valve to squeeze out the sealant;
- when the wheel has returned to its normal shape, disconnect the can;
- if the tire pressure is a little lower than prescribed, inflate it after a few kilometers.
Repair a puncture on the road with a sealant can anyone
Repairing a puncture with a tourniquet
To repair defects, you can buy a tubeless tire repair kit. It consists of several tourniquets, awl, file and glue. Sometimes it comes with a knife. Consumables are usually enough for several manipulations, the price of the set is low.
To repair the damage this way is a little more difficult than with the sealant. It takes longer and may require removing the wheel.
Usually the kit comes with glue, but motorists recommend buying the usual “Moment” in addition
- Inspect the puncture site and pull out a sharp object, if there was one;
- mark the damage with chalk and clean the tire;
- de-pressurize the tire to ½ atmosphere;
- use a file to clean and enlarge the puncture so you can insert the tourniquet;
- coat the tourniquet with glue and insert it into the hole of the awl;
- insert the awl into the puncture for 2/3, and then carefully take it out. The loop of the repair harness will remain in the damaged place, and the ends on the surface;
- inflate the wheel and check its tightness. If the defect remains, install another harness. And so until the complete elimination of the puncture. Then the protruding ends should be cut off.
Installing a patch on a cut
Small cuts, other than side cuts, can be repaired with your own hands. As a rule, they are longitudinal up to 35 mm, as well as transverse, having a size of no more than 25 mm. Gluing any type of damage on or near the rib makes no sense.
Kits of special plasters and glue are sold to repair such defects. Such repairs will also require other tools. It can only be done at home or in a garage.
This is how the ready-made patches look like
The work is performed in the following sequence:
- clean the wheel of dirt and remove the tire from the disk;
- use a drill to clean the damaged area;
- apply a thin layer of rubber to the cut and solder;
- grind off the tire, removing the excess rubber;
- degrease the repair area;
- apply glue and dry;
- apply a layer of rubber;
- put a plaster to the place of the cut, pressing it hard.
Puncture of tubeless tire requires immediate repair. What ways it can be done on the road, we explained. If you are not confident in your abilities, it is better to resort to the help of specialists. Poor-quality repair of the tire can lead to a serious accident.