Tire Damage: Repair or Replace?

April 13th, 2018 by

We’ve all been there — you’ve got somewhere to be only to be stopped by a flat tire. However, the real hassle begins when you have to determine what to do with a punctured or leaky tire. Can it be repaired? Does it need to be replaced? What if you use a product like Fix-A-Flat?
We get these questions all the time in our service center, and the best way to answer these questions is by first discussing how exactly a tire works.

Tire Structure

The tires on your car are engineered to provide traction, smooth driving, and efficient gas mileage for the lifetime specified by the manufacturer. The rubber you see is structurally designed to perform all those functions, and it has the reinforcement of steel belting underneath. By the nature of design, the rubber is going to wear away and the tires need to be replaced after some time. Under average conditions, a tire will generally last for 20,000 to 50,000 miles without a problem. You can always tell if your tire is still good by using a penny to measure the amount of tread left. If the tread left on the tire is less than the distance between the edge of the coin and the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head, you need to replace the tire.
With that said, a common household nail can potentially end the life of the tire before you even drive out of the parking lot of the tire store. A nail in the side of your tire is not fixable, and an oversized hole may not be patchable. Generally speaking, a patch kit can work if the nail hole is in the traction area that actually makes contact with the road.

Repairing a Flat Tire

Patch kits are not as simple as they seem. They only work for nail or screw holes and require a tedious process of reaming out the hole and then filling the hole with a flexible rubber plug cut to the necessary size. Then you’ll need an air pump to refill the tire. Professionals in a shop can do the job much easier than the typical driver because they’re set up to conduct such repairs.

Fix-A-Flat

Fix-A-Flat is a product that provides an easy way to repair and air your flat tire. It fills the inside of a tire with an expandable plastic internal coating, along with a compressed gas to add air pressure. If you try to drive far after using Fix-A-Flat, your tire is going to fail again and likely cause further damage to your tire and quite possibly your rim.

Using the Spare Tire

Using the spare tire also puts you on borrowed time. The spare is there for a reason, and there’s nothing wrong with using it. But it’s only good to go from Point A to Point B. Less expensive cars have a tiny spare (or donut) that is designed to only give you about 80 miles with careful driving at speeds under 50 mph. Heavy trucks and nicer cars tend to have a full-sized spare tire, but once you put it on, you are without a safety net should you have another tire failure. You need a new tire fairly soon to assure you have a backup in case of another emergency.

Replacing the Tire

Sometimes the best option is to just replace the faulty tire. We know that the price tag can be intimidating, but your tires are worth the investment. After all, driving on tires with insufficient tread or other damages is unsafe for you, your passengers and other drivers.
If you’re unsure of what action to take, a professional can inspect and repair your existing tires as needed and advise on when you need new ones. Check out our service specials for discounts on new tires and book an appointment online to save time and get back on the road safer and sooner.
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