Flat tires are most commonly caused by punctures, which can be extremely frustrating. If you’ve ever had such an experience, you know that one of the first steps is to determine whether it can be repaired or not. If the puncture is close to the edge of the tire, often known as the “sidewall,” you’ll have an easier time patching it up. However, if the puncture is closer to the center of the tire, repairing it may be challenging. In short, the farther the puncture is to the tire’s core, the easier it is to be patched. Why and how does that come to be? Read on to find out.
What Is a Sidewall and What Is It Made Of?
The sidewall of a tire is the area between the bead and the tread. It is made up of rubber compounds that protect the tire’s inner liner and is reinforced by various materials, such as steel or nylon. This protects the sidewall against punctures due to its extra strength and flexibility. For this reason, the sidewall will not incur any damage caused by impacts, such as a curb or pothole.
In addition, the sidewall helps keep the tire inflated and provides a cushioning effect to reduce vibration and noise from the road. It also protects cord plies, the layers of material that hold the tire together. This allows you to find tire markings on the sidewall, such as the size and load ratings which convey important information about the tire. Thus, it’s important to keep the sidewall area of the tire in good condition.
How Close to the Sidewall Can a Tire Be Patched?
It is generally safe to patch a tire at least half an inch from the edge of the tread or 6 mm from the tire’s shoulder. If the puncture is closer to the sidewall, it’s still possible to patch it up. However, it is more difficult for a professional technician to do so. This is because many layers of material need to be worked through to repair the tire. This requires the technician to inspect the tire thoroughly, clean out any debris or foreign objects that may be embedded in the rubber compound, and use the appropriate materials and techniques to patch up the tire. The rubber compounds are also more prone to cracking, further complicating the repair process.
How Long Will the Patch Last?
A tire patch will typically last 7-10 years if the tires are in good condition and applied correctly. While it is not a permanent fix, it will usually last long enough to get you to your destination. Before applying the patch, the key to making a tire patch last is ensuring the hole is clean and dry. Once the patch is in place, be sure to press it firmly into the hole.
However, it is important to keep an eye on the patch and check it periodically for any signs of wear or deterioration. With proper care and maintenance, a tire patch can easily last for many months, giving you peace of mind on the road. In any case, it is always a good idea to have your tires inspected by a professional to ensure that they are in good condition and safe to drive.
Other Ways to Repair a Tire Instead of Patching It
In addition to patching, there are a few other ways to repair a tire. Also, if the puncture is too close to the sidewall and cannot be patched, there are alternative methods of fixing the tire. Depending on the size and location of the puncture, a technician may recommend the following repairs:
- Plugging: This is done by inserting a plug—a rubber-coated string that has not been vulcanized—into the puncture and then inflating the tire. As you drive, the heat and pressure from the road will vulcanize the plug and expand to seal the puncture.
- Tire sealant: This is the simplest repair form and can be done at home. It involves using an aerosolized product through the valve stem to inflate and seal the tires. This method is perfect for emergencies when you’re far away from a repair shop. But when you bring it to a repair shop, remember to inform the mechanic that you put sealant in your tire. This way, you’d avoid the risks of making a huge mess of sealant on the floor.
- Tire patch plug: This is a combination of plugging and patching. This is done by inserting the plug into the puncture and then applying a patch to the outside of the tire to create a more reliable repair that can last for the life of the tire. Although this method is more expensive than patching alone and time-consuming, it can be a great way to ensure the tire is safe and secure.
Are There Any Dangers Associated With Driving on Tires That Have Been Patched?
Although patching a tire can be a safe and economical way to repair it, some risks are still associated with driving on tires that have been patched. The main danger associated with patched tires is that the patch may not hold firmly, causing the tire to leak air or burst anytime and anywhere.
This can be particularly dangerous if it happens while you are driving at high speeds or on uneven terrain. So, it is important to ensure that the patch is applied correctly and that the tire pressure is checked regularly. In addition, it is a good idea to avoid driving on rough terrain or in extreme weather conditions. If you do, it is best to replace the patched tire as soon as possible.
Signs That a Tire Needs To Be Replaced
Sometimes, a patch is not enough to fix a tire. If your tire has a large puncture or the sidewall is damaged, you will likely need to replace the tire altogether. Another obvious sign that you need to replace your tire is if the tread patterns are worn down or uneven. This can cause the vehicle to lose traction and stability, which can be dangerous on the road. Additionally, if you have been driving on a patched tire for an extended period of time and it is not holding air, you should replace it. You must also check your tires for cracks or splits caused by age or harsh conditions. If all these signs are present, it is better to get a new tire than to risk patching the old one.
Regardless of where the puncture is, patching your flat tires is possible, so new tires aren’t always necessary to get you back on the road. However, the difficulty level of fixing it up may vary depending on the puncture’s distance to the sidewall—the closer it is, the more challenging it would be. If you’re unsure how to correctly patch it up, seek professional help to avoid a tire blowout. Surely, they have the expertise to help you determine the best solution for your tires, such as tire plugging or sealant, aside from tire patching.