Repair or Replace: Tires
Posted onYou’re driving down the road when, all of a sudden, it happens: your tire pressure light goes on.
We all know that feeling of terror in those moments; wondering what’s wrong with your tire, what you ran over, and how long you have until it’s totally flat.
Once you’ve gotten yourself to safety, your next step should be figuring out how to best repair your tire. The good news is that RGX Rim Repair can help. Whether you need a flat tire repaired or a new tire mounted, we’ve got you covered.
What Are Tire Plugs?
Tire plugs function almost the same way earplugs do. They’re coated in a sticky rubber compound and wedged into the hole that’s causing your tire to leak. As the tire heats up while you drive, the rubber adheres to the edges of the hole and the leak is effectively stopped.
Tire plugs can last quite a while but, generally, they should be used as a temporary solution. As your tires heat up while driving and cool down afterward, so does the tire plug. The problem with tire plugs is that they’re not made of the same material as your tire, so they’re heating and cooling at different rates.
Over time, this can cause the tire plug to lose its seal. While this usually happens gradually, giving you plenty of time to notice the new leak, tire plugs can also fail quite quickly. If this happens while you’re traveling at highway speeds, you run the risk of a blowout that could cause an accident and/or permanent rim damage.
To summarize, there are pros and cons to plugging a tire. Tire plugs are cheap and an experienced mechanic can install one quickly and easily. That said, they most likely won’t last forever and could cause damage if installed improperly or overused.
What Are Tire Patches?
Tire patches are more commonly used and are more effective than tire plugs. They’re made of rubber and feature a sticky backing. The adhesive on the patch heats up as you drive on it, essentially fusing the patch to the tire. Patches go on the inside of the tire so, even though they are affected by heat and cold like tire plugs are, the risk of them failing is almost non-existent.
Tire patches tend to last a long time and are an excellent solution for small punctures, especially if you don’t want to have to buy a new tire. That said, they aren’t always going to be an option.
One of the biggest cons of tire patches is that they can only be used in certain locations. Tire patches are perfect for flat surfaces, but don’t work for punctures that occur within one inch of your tire’s sidewall. They cost more and take longer to apply than tire plugs do, but patches take the cake when you consider their low cost, simplicity, and overall safety.
When Should You Replace Your Tires?
Unfortunately, even the best mechanic can’t fix everything. There are many cases where repairing a tire is either impossible or dangerous, requiring you to replace it entirely.
You may have to replace your tire if:
- A puncture has occurred in the sidewall, since this part of your tire flexes too much to hold a patch or plug
- You’ve driven on a flat tire too long, since this can cause irreversible damage to the sidewall
- There’s a cut in the tire deep enough to damage one of the internal steel belts
- The puncture or gash is more than ¼ inch wide
- The tire is punctured/cut too close to a previous repair, since many manufacturers recommend that tire repairs must be at least 16 inches apart.
- The tread on your tire is worn down to 2/32 of an inch or less
Even if none of the above are true, there are some tires that can’t be repaired due to their design or the manufacturer's specifications. For instance, run-flat tires may be convenient, but certain types are irreparable.
Remember, you can do irreversible damage to your tires and rims by driving on a flat or low-pressure tire. If your tire is losing air, you should drive as little as possible until you can get to RGX Rim Repair. Get in touch with us at 888-775-RIMS (7467) to get an estimate for tire repairs.