Can You Repair a Tire Sidewall?
Driving with a damaged sidewall can be dangerous, more so if you are clocking high speeds on the highway. The below excerpt, therefore, provides an in-depth look at the important factors surrounding tire sidewall damage repair.
If you own a car or are a frequent driver then it is mandatory that you understand the anatomy of your car tire, and the different qualities available. And if you can learn to read and interpret the information on the side of the tire, then it would help you a lot with tire quality. Apart from the car’s engine, the tires are the second most important thing and we all know that you and the occupants of the car are only safe for as long as the tires are.
On the side of a tire, you will get information on the weight that the tire can support when fully inflated, there is also the amount of speed a tire can take for at least ten minutes without putting the occupants of the car at risk, remember that by exceeding the speed limits you will damage your tire on the sidewall. There is also information on the material used in the construction of the tire; if you can learn how to interpret the information on the side of your tire, then maintenance wouldn’t be a problem.
The sidewall of a tire absorbs impact from potholes, curbs, and road debris. And unlike the tread area, the sidewall is made up of soft and thin material, which limits repairs to minor damages such as the sidewall punctures. One of the most common causes of sidewall damage is driving on a flat tire. You should, therefore, avoid driving long distances on a flat tire since 9 out of 10 times the only solution to dealing with sidewall damage is replacing the tire.
And remember that not all car tires can be repaired, for example, sidewall punctures that might have occurred on passenger truck tires or the light trucks, cannot be repaired rather you will have to replace the tire.
How to fix a punctured sidewall
A puncture is the only type of sidewall damage that can be repaired. Repairable sidewall punctures, however, are limited to a specific size and any cut or puncture longer than a quarter-inch or wider than 1-inch cannot be fixed.
The first step to fixing a punctured sidewall is identifying the damaged area, which can be difficult if you are dealing with a small cut. To do this, you will need to remove your tire and wash it with soapy water. Bubbles will form on the affected area as a result of air escaping the tire, and soapy water makes this visible.
Once this is done, use a T-handle plier to clear out any foreign objects in the hole before inserting a tire plug covered in a vulcanizing liquid into the damaged area. Let the tire plug and vulcanized liquid sit for five minutes before cutting off the excess parts of the plug.
It is advisable for you to further reinforce the repair by attaching a rubber patch on the inner and outer layer of the sidewall over the plug and vulcanized liquid. Let the patchwork sit for 5-10 minutes. And finally, fill the tire with air following the specific air pressure standards available on the sidewall of your tire to check for any other cuts or gorges before reattaching the tire to your vehicle.
Tire sidewall damage guide
The presence of a bulge in your sidewall is a sure sign that the cords inside your sidewall are damaged. This kind of damage is as a result of impact with curbs and bumps at high speeds, which causes the internal cords to break. Sidewall bulges are responsible for tire blowouts while driving and can cause fatal accidents if they occur at high speeds. Drivers can prevent bulges by slowing down before driving over obstacles such as bumps and curbs. Bulges are irreparable and will require you to replace the tire.
An even and smooth sidewall is not as common as you may think. Most times, the overlapping layers of rubber, the fabric belts, and steel rings in the tire, causes dimples and indentations to appear on the sidewall. Unlike bulges, however, indentations are nothing to worry about and show that the sidewalls are reinforced.
Tire dry rot occurs when your tire has been exposed to harmful UV light, corrosive chemicals, and prolonged disuse. These harmful external conditions cause tiny cracks to appear on the sidewall and tread of your tire.
Repairing dry rot damage is not advisable since there is a chance that the polymers within the tires have already been compromised, damaging the structure of the tire. You can avoid this damage by using tire covers when your vehicle is not in use and parking away from direct sunlight or near any oil/chemical spills.
Tire sidewall repair products
Combining a patch and plug when repairing puncture damage to your sidewall is more reliable, than using either independently. The plug or stem is inserted into the puncture of the tire while the patch secures it in place from the inner side.
Placing the tire patch on the inner side of the tire prevents it from being pushed off by the air pressure that exists within. Besides, using a patch on its own won't hold. Once the car achieves high speeds, the heat generated will break down the components in the glue, causing it to lose its strength and move.
The vulcanizing liquid is made when rubber is ground and dissolved in a solution such as acetone, benzene, or chloroform to make a strong adhesive solution that holds rubber components together once the liquid dries. Tire vulcanization is expensive and requires a certain level of skill.
Punctures are caused by road debris such as sharp rocks, glass, and metals. These objects will then get stuck in the hole. T-handle pliers are used for removing any stuck foreign objects such as rocks or metal bits from the punctured area. It is also used to enlarge the hole, and this comes in handy when your tire plug has a larger circumference than the hole.
Open eye needle
The needle allows the tire plug to be inserted into the puncture with ease. The tire plug is first inserted into the eye of the needle before it is securely fixed into the hole. Some open needles come with a rubberized T-handle to enhance the users' comfort.
It is impossible to tell the extent of damage to your sidewall without removing the tire. You will need a car jack to lift the side of the vehicle with the damaged tire before taking it out for inspection and subsequent repair.
This device is used to pump air into the tire to facilitate repairs.
How to avoid tire damage
Before we learn how to avoid tire damage, let us first understand what really happens when your tire gets damaged and why repairs are prohibited. Of the whole tire frame, the sidewall functions differently than the other parts of the tire, the reason being that it has to put up with more strain because of the multidirectional movements. So, when you repair the tire, the repaired portion will still undergo the same strain thus making it dangerous.
And that’s the reason why people are advised to drive around potholes in a bid to avoid sidewall damage, they should also periodically clean the tires, maintain the right air pressure and change the position of the tires in accordance with vehicle manufacturer recommendations. Remember, a tire can only be repaired twice before it has to be replaced, so practice regular maintenance.
Truck drivers who do a lot of off-roading and will most likely encounter unavoidable rough roads that expose their tires to sidewall damage, it would, therefore, be in their best interest to invest in an all-terrain type of tires that have incorporated the mechanisms for puncture resistance.
Frequently Asked Questions (faqs)
How long should my tires last before I can replace them?
There is no one definite answer to this question, however, the major factors that will decide are such as the tread design of your tires, the frequency of use, your driving style and the road conditions from where you drive. Besides if you take good care of your tires they will definitely last longer.
How can I determine my tire age?
The simplest message of establishing this is by examining the details or marks on the sidewall of your tires, tires that were produced before the year 2000 have been inscribed with three numbers, which indicate the date that the tire was produced.
What causes a tire blow out?
Under-inflation is one of the major causes of tire blow out, the reason being that tires that are under-inflated flex more on the sidewall, which then makes them heat up beyond their normal operating temperatures. This phenomenon is likely to occur when driving in hot weather at high speeds and for long periods.
The simple fact that you repaired the sidewall of your tires should be enough indication that your tire can no longer perform at its best, and to be clearer is that it is no longer safe. Even if you decide to drive slowly you are not safe from blowouts as you can cause an accident and injure those in your vehicle and the cars and people around you.
Situations might be tight when you get sidewall damage thus necessitating the use of the above methods; however, the best thing to do is to get a new tire. And if you don’t have the expertise but really value your life then take your car to a repair shop that will repair your sidewall damage with regard to industry guidelines. Another option is to carry out regular checkups especially if you have had a long-distance trip.