Tire Repair Options
You have just been cruising down the highway when you feel a sudden decline in your car or motorcycle’s handling capability and realize that you have popped a tire. That instantaneous, sinking feeling creeps in—you must change or repair the tire.
Suddenly, you have forgotten every YouTube tutorial, roadside assistance commercial, and hands-on lesson you have ever had. The anxious part of you may figure that the only way to rectify the situation is to buy a brand-new tire—or worse yet, an entire new set. It is at this very moment that you should relax and keep in mind that there are other tire repair options available.
Completely replacing the tire is not always necessary. Tires are durable and built to handle tough conditions. Before you take the most expensive route, consider repairing the tire so that you can put more miles on it until the time comes for a necessary replacement.
Tire Plugs and Patches
There are two primary tire repair options available. The first is called a tire plug. It is essentially a material that you fill a hole with to stop air from leaking. There are several types of tire plugs, including:
- Mushroom plugs
- Spear plugs
- Rope plugs
- Fiber seal plugs
- Bow tie plugs
Many people like plugs because they are the cheapest tire repair option available. They typically cost between $5 and $40, and they also do not take long to install.
The second tire repair option is a patch. Tire patches are internal repairs that target the root of the problem and completely seal off a punctured area. When you repair using a patch, you take the tire off of the wheel and use rubber cement to apply a large material to the hole. After pressing it down and applying sealant, you create an airtight cover for the affected area.
There is technically a third option available—a hybrid plug-patch. With this method, you remove the tire from the wheel and inspect the inside. Then, using a patch attached to a rubber plug, you both seal off the hole and fill it with material. This is the most popular option among auto shops who want to ensure the safety of their customers.
Plugs, patches, and hybrids all have their time and place. People have success with all three methods, but not all methods are appropriate for each situation. Determining which tire repair option to use comes down to the tire’s condition. Although you may want to repair it, sometimes tires are too damaged to fix.
Choosing a Tire Repair Option
Before you choose a tire repair option, you need to assess the damage. If an object has punctured the tire’s sidewall, you cannot patch or plug it. It will need to be replaced. Additionally, holes larger than 6mm are irreparable and you should not attempt to fix them.
These types of repairs are supposed to reinforce small damages to otherwise perfectly acceptable tires. If you continue to drive on a tire that has a faulty patch or plug, you can cause a major safety hazard and risk blowing out your tire altogether.
When you are examining the tire, you also want to look for any rippling or uneven rubber around the perimeter. This may look like bubbles or bumps—it can vary depending on the type of damage. Again, damage to the tire’s sidewall is dangerous and should not be “repaired.” This is a life-threatening safety oversight.
If you have determined that you can repair the tire, you have a couple of criteria to consider. For quick, short-term repairs, a plug would be the best option. Tire plugs are mostly designed to get you from point A to point B, the auto shop.
When you use a plug, you do not examine the inner lining of the tire. Without looking at the inside, you will not know if the sidewall has been compromised in other, non-visible ways. If you have driven too long on a low-air tire, the inside will show black shavings of rubber that are essentially the sidewall deteriorating. The sidewall must be uncompromised for tire repair—this can’t be stated enough.
For longer-term repairs, a patch or plug-patch is the very best option. Because you will get a good look at the inside of the tire, this will remove any safety concerns. When done properly, tire patches or plug-patches can last for thousands of miles and save hundreds of dollars.
This type of repair is thorough without taking an exorbitant amount of time to complete. Although you will pay more for a tire patch, there are more tools and time involved in this process. Ultimately, however, you will be able to drive comfortably knowing that the tire is sealed tightly and effectively.
If you find yourself in need of new tires after exhausting all repair options, contact Dunlop Motorcycle Tires today to get started on getting your bike back on the road.