Getting a flat tire is never easy or fun. Whether it’s a fast leak or a slow leak, flat tire repair is going to be in your future. Like any vehicle leak, a leak in your tire will eventually lead to problems if you don’t repair it. Those problems could be as insignificant as poor fuel mileage or accelerated tire wear or as drastic as a dangerous handling situation that can lead to a crash.
Like any leak repair, simply replacing the leaking part, in this case getting a new tire, is always an option. Before you go out and spend the money on new rubber for your ride, it’s important to know what your options are.
Flat Tire Repair Options
- Tire Sealant
- Tire Plug
- Tire Patch
Tire sealant comes in a lot of different brands but generally work the same. You inject the sealant into your tire and as you drive the sealant sloshes around inside the tire and coats the leak point. As the sealant dries it should plug up the hole and keep air inside your tire. We’ve had some success using these products for small leaks including torn mourning surfaces and cracked valve stems
Tire plugs are extremely convenient because they can usually be used without removing the tire from the rim. Their limitation is that they often don’t create a perfect seal and can only fix a hole inside the tread of the tire. If you’ve got a nail or screw in your tire and you simply pull it out it will leave a hole and your tire will go flat even faster. Instead, insert a tire plug where the nail came out and slow your leak down.
A patch is the best option for flat tire repair but it does require removing the tire from the rim and it can also only be used to fix a hole in the center of your tire. If you put your patch too close to, or on the sidewall of the tire, the tire flexing as you drive will cause the patch to come off. Patches often form a permanent seal so if you still have lots of life left in your tires they are a great way to go!
If you’re not a big DIY person you may consider taking your flat tire to your local mechanic or tire shop. Often these businesses will repair flat tires for a small fee or even for free in hopes of earning your business when the time does come for new tires.