Getting a flat tire can be an incredibly scary and stressful experience, especially if it happens on a busy road. They can happen at any time to anyone, and getting home safely is a top priority. That's why it's good to know how to patch a tire.
So many different things on the road can make your tires flat, from rocks to nails to glass and other items. As long as the hole isn't in the sidewall of your tire, as long as you know how to patch a tire, you may be able to patch it and continue to drive on it.
Keep in mind that as long as your tire still has some air in it, you may be able to patch it. However, if the leak allows all of the air to escape, then you'll need to find another alternative. Without any air, this could lead to you driving on your rim, which could cause damage to your car.
What Is Patching a Tire?
Technically speaking, patching a tire is repairing any holes that may exist on the surface. When finding out how to patch a tire, there are several different options available. You can use a fix-a-flat kit that comes from a store or you can use another patching method.
No matter which option you choose, the goal is to stop air from leaking out of the tire so you can continue down the road. Patching a tire can be incredibly cost-effective. Instead of having to replace the tires, you can get more use out of them by fixing the hole.
When Is Patching a Tire Necessary?
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Patching a tire is necessary when you notice that it is low on air and you suspect it might be caused by specific damage. As long as the tread and sidewall of the tire are still intact, then patching the tire is an option. If you see bald spots or the tread is low, then getting the tires replaced is probably a safer option than trying to patch the tire.
The reason you can't patch a tire if the hole occurs in the sidewall is that this area on the tire flexes and moves as the car drives down the road. Even if you know how to patch a tire, If you attempt to put a patch here, the movement will more than likely cause it to come loose, which will allow more air to escape from your tire.
Determine the Damage
In addition to knowing where the damage is, it's also important to know what type of damage it is. If you have a cut on your tire, then the tire will need to be replaced. This is because inside of the tire there are steel cords that give the tire strength and structure. If these get damaged, the strength can be compromised, making the tire unsafe to drive on.
The only time you can consider patching a cut is if the damage is less than ¼ of an inch. If that's the case, then the steel cords will more than likely not be damaged and the strength of the tire won't be compromised. Anything larger, though, and the tire should be replaced.
If the damage is caused by a puncture, then you should be able to use a patch to fix it. Most tire patches are designed to cover round holes. Again, you want to make sure that the hole is ¼ of an inch or less. If it's larger, then getting the tire replaced is a better option.
Here's How to Patch a Tire in 11 Steps
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After you have determined where and the size of the damage, you can then begin the process of fixing the issue. When it comes to how to patch a tire, the following steps will help you get your car back on the road and air to stay in your tire.
Step 1: Inflate the Tire
To know for sure whether you have a leak, you have to make sure that the tire is inflated to the proper psi. Knowing how much air to add will require consulting your owner's manual and finding the requirements in there. In some cases, the information might also be available on the inside of the driver side door.
Step 2: Inspect the Tire
After you have filled the tire to the proper psi, you'll then want to inspect it for any holes. Sometimes you can see these easily, while other times they are hidden. You'll also want to listen for a hissing sound, which will indicate that air is leaking from the tire. You can also move your hand around on the surface of the tire to see if can feel where any air might be leaking from.
If you have inspected, listened, and felt for the leak but are still unable to find it, you might consider mixing some soap and water together and placing it on the tire. The air that is leaking from the tire will cause bubbles to form, so you should be able to easily pinpoint the issue.
Step 3: Remove the Tire
Once you know where the leak is coming from, you can then begin the process of how to patch a tire. The first thing you'll need to do is remove the tire from the car. To do this, you'll want to loosen the lug nuts with the lug wrench while the tire is still in contact with the asphalt. This will keep the tire from spinning and possibly causing injury while you remove the lug nuts.
Once you have loosened the lug nuts to where they are easy to remove with your hand, then you'll want to jack up the car. You should have a jack in the back of your vehicle with the spare tire. Read the instructions on where this should be placed on your car to ensure that it doesn't slip out or cause damage to the vehicle.
You'll only need to jack the car up high enough so that the tire is no longer on the ground but a few inches above it. You'll then need to completely remove the lug nuts from the tire and pull the wheel from the wheelbase.
Step 4: Remove the Protruding Object
If you can see the cause of the leak, such as a nail, screw, or other object being stuck in your tire, then you'll want to remove this from the surface. A pair of pliers should be useful for this task.
If there is no object but you know where the leak is, make sure to mark it so it's easy to find. You can use a piece of tape or some chalk to accomplish this task.
Step 5: Remove the Tire From the Wheel Rim
To accomplish this part of the process, you'll have to first remove the valve stem core. This can be done with a special tool that unscrews the valve stem core from the center of the valve stem and allows you to pull it out. This will also release the air pressure so you can then break the bead.
To break the bead, you'll need to use a tire spoon and hammer. This will break the seal that adheres the tire to the rim. This will need to be done to both sides of the tire to be able to remove it from the rim.
You'll need to keep moving the tire spoon around the tire and the rim on both sides until it comes free. Once it has come off, you can set the wheel rim aside and take the tire to patch the hole.
Step 6: Clean Out the Hole
Before you can patch the hole, you'll need to make sure that the area is clean and the sides are smooth so the patch will bond correctly. This can be accomplished using an air die grinder with a pointy bit and then the grinding stone bit.
After the hole is smooth, you'll then need to spray compressed air into the area to remove any dirt or debris that may be there. The surface has to be clean for the patch to bond.
Step 7: Apply Vulcanizing Cement
Adding this to the inside of the tire will ensure that water can't get into the tire's tread. You'll want the cement to be “tacky” to the touch before you apply the patch.
Step 8: Apply the Patch
You'll need to remove the cover from the sticky side of the patch and then place it on the inside of the tire. After it is in place, you'll pull the pointy part through the hole. Using pliers for this task can be beneficial.
With a roller, you'll want to go over the patch on the inside of the tire to remove any air bubbles that might exist. This should help the patch seal to the tire and keep it in place. You'll then need to cover the entire patch and part of the tire with the rubber patch sealant. This will reduce the chances of leaks occurring and repair the existing hole.
Step 9: Remove the Patch Stem
It should only take a few minutes for the sealant to dry. While that is occurring, you can cut the patch stem on the outside of the tire down to be flush with the tread. This can be accomplished with pliers or scissors.
Step 10: Place the Tire Back on the Wheel Rim
To allow the tire to go back onto the rim smoothly and easily, you'll need to lubricate the bead. This can be accomplished by using water and soap. If you used this solution to find the leak, you can use any leftover for this task.
Using the tire spoons, you can then slide the tire back on the rim on both sides. You'll then need to put in a new valve stem core and pull it through the hole on the rim. Once that is back into place, you can fill the tire with air to the recommended psi.
Step 11: Place the Tire Back on the Car
Once the tire has been inflated, it is ready to put back onto the car. Replace the lug nuts to keep the tire in place and tighten as tight as you can with your hand. Once those are in place, you can then lower the car back to the ground and remove the jack.
After the tire is on the ground, you can then use the lug wrench to tighten the nuts so that the tire stays in place. If the patch was successful, you should be able to drive your car without any issues and air should stay in your tire.
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When it comes to how to patch a tire, there are certain steps that have to be followed. As long as the damage is of a certain size and at a certain location on the tire, a patch should stop any leaks. If the patch doesn't stop the air from leaking, it may be time to take the car to a professional and get new tires.