Flat Tires - To Plug or Not to Plug?
by Pat Goss
Here’s something that will ruin you’re entire morning, the old screw or nail in the tire deal that leaves you with a flat. Well, they usually can be fixed, but you have to use some precautions here: number one, you’re going to have to put on a spare. Your spare is probably a temporary. It’s going to have all kinds of writing on it. I would suggest that you follow those directions, because the only way that this can be safe is if it used as a temporary spare and it has the proper pressure in it.
Fixing the tire! That’s where the real issue comes in. Remember, number one, that you cannot repair a tire if the damage is outside these lines. No, your tire doesn’t have lines like that. You have to envision them on the tires.
The typical way that a tire is fixed, and it’s completely improper, is to take a plug and just jam it through the tread of the tire and that’s the end of it. If it doesn’t leak, everything is fine. But how do you know what the inside of the tire looks like? You don’t. So, the tire always has to be de-mounted from the rim for a proper repair.
Now that also leads us to another problem. You get it de-mounted. What do a lot of people do? They put a patch in there. Well, the patch doesn’t work either, not by itself. The reason for that is real simple. If you put a plug through the outside it seals the outside, but doesn’t necessarily seal the inside. So that’s the reason you de-mount the tire and you put a special sealant around the plug that keeps air from migrating into the plies of the rubber in the tire. Now granted, you can put a patch in there, but the patch doesn’t seal the outside of the tire, therefore water can get in and rust the steel belts.
So the ideal situation is a plug patch. This is both a plug and a patch, and this goes from the inside of the tire to the outside. It’s pushed through and then you grab it with a pair of pliers and you pull it. It has a rubber plug that is built into it, so once this is pulled through, the metal piece comes off, the inside is a patch, it seals the inside, it seals the outside, it’s considered a permanent repair.
Do your homework before you have a tire repair, because that’s the only way to have that tire safe is to have it fixed properly.
If you have a question or comment, write to me.
The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.