Most folks have had a flat tire. You know it’s inconvenient and a pain. Our tires are important. Keeping them in good working order isn’t just a big safety issue – it also has a financial impact. With high gas prices, we’ve all heard about the importance of keeping proper tire pressure to save on gas. In addition, proper inflation promotes even tread wear so your tires last longer.
There’s another danger to under-inflated tires. Low tire pressure puts added stress on the structure of the tire itself, causing it to break down prematurely. Also, under-inflated tires generate more heat which also reduces tire life. So get those slow leaks fixed quickly – don’t just keep airing them up every few days. You want to avoid serious tire damage.
Tires can also be damaged by road hazards. Punctures, cuts and impacts on curbs or potholes can also cause damage that could lead to tire failure. Sometimes, it’s something that a visual inspection would reveal. Take the opportunity to check your tires when you’re gassing up. Look for slashes, missing chunks, nails or screws in the tread or just uneven wear. Of course check the air pressure too.
Now tire damage can be on the inside where you can’t see it until it’s removed from the wheel. Such damage could come from a severe impact, driving on a flat or even just low pressure. Some punctures can cause internal damage that are too severe to be repaired. So, if your tire professional wants to take the time to remove your flat from the rim and inspect the inside before repairing it, he’s just following good procedure.
Now some tires just can’t be repaired. A puncture may be too large to plug. Also, the puncture could be in a location that’s not safe to repair like in the sidewall or outer portion of the tread. So called run-flat tires should not be repaired because their design is such that internal damage can’t be detected by a visual inspection.
It is also important that repairs should only be done by a qualified tire specialist. You can buy self repair kits – save those for emergencies, like when you’re off-roading and need a quick fix so you can hobble back to civilization and get professional help. If you need to use a repair-in-a-can product, remember it’s a temporary measure only and your tire needs to be properly repaired as soon as possible.
Here are some other considerations: Repairing a flat may void your tire manufacturer’s warranty – just something to keep in mind. Also, if you repair a speed rated tire, you should not use it in any motorsports or operate it above legal speed limits. Your tire professional will repair your tire whenever it’s safe to do so and he’ll advise you when it’s better to replace it. So watch those curbs and keep the air – on the inside.