Deciding on the best method of repairing a punctured tire is dictated by the location of the leak as well as the size and extent of the damage. Proper tire repair is vital. It could be the difference between a catastrophic accident and a life saved extension of a tire’s life span and a premature end to it.
In patching a car tire, the cardinal rule to be observed is that no patching must be done on the sidewall or the shoulder areas (the shoulder is where the tread and the sidewall connect). Industry guidelines dictate that tires damaged on the sidewall must be replaced without any further attempt to put them back on the road. However, punctures that are on the tread area can be repaired, if they do not touch on the shoulder of the tire.
Why punctured sidewalls should not be repaired.
Especially when the tires are still in excellent condition, most drivers try to compromise with their dealers on having punctured sidewalls repaired. No professional tire repair dealers will be willing to repair these kinds of damages at whatever cost.
- Repaired sidewalls are an unnecessary risk.
The functionality of a sidewall is relatively and majorly different from the functionality of other tire parts. The tread of the tire is the one that is in touch with the road and is well reinforced to handle the pressure, by a mix of both authentic and synthetic fibers. The Sidewall prevents air from escaping the tire and provides lateral stability especially when the vehicle is in motion. The material used to make the sidewall is much softer and absorbs more pressure from the constant movement.
Driving around with a patched or damaged sidewall is putting the tire at risk of blowout that can cause tragic accidents. It puts you and other road users at risk.
- Patches will not hold on the sidewall.
Patches will simply not stick to the tire sidewall, no matter how fast or slow the vehicle’s speed is. Spending money and time having a tire sidewall patched is just an exercise in futility because it will not hold. In case you decide to take your chances and decide to patch your sidewall injury, your tire will not perform as expected. The eventuality of driving on a patched sidewall, as mentioned earlier, is disastrous.
Identifying damaged sidewall.
When driving, learning to listen out for leaks and their most common causes, while in motion is a vital skill that could save you from dangerous situations. Regularly servicing your car is a good start towards identifying threats to your tires and more so, damaged sidewalls. Different kinds of injuries could affect your sidewall.
Slow leaks or sudden blowouts caused by foreign bodies like nails, screws, and metals are the most common types of injury to tires sidewall. There will be punctures, gashes, and cuts caused by these objects. There is no compromise here; the tire must be replaced when any of these occur. Besides direct punctures, other causes of sidewall blowouts include under-inflation, over-inflation, overloading, overly worn-out tires (probably due to age) or manufacturers’ defects.
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) helps in tracking the pressure when inflating tires so that one stays within recommended limits. It sends alerts to the driver when leaks occur so they can sort them out immediately.
Loading a car beyond its stated capacity will cause the wheels to overheat, especially at high speeds. The maximum load capacity of every vehicle is indicated on the side of the door and you must be careful not to exceed it. An overload and exceeded tire inflation is a perfect recipe to tear apart a perfect tire sidewall.
Bubbles and Bulges on the sidewall.
Both bubbles and bulges are common sidewall damages caused by damage to the inner liner of the tire and will put the tire at risk of a blowout. They are caused by direct impact from potholes, debris, poor tire installation, rail crossings and in some cases, poor tire structure from the manufacturers’ end. Once you notice a bulge or bubble on your sidewall, do not drive on it but have it replaced immediately.
Cracks on the sidewall.
Cracks will start to appear on a tire sidewall, mostly as the tire ages. Environmental factors, mostly the sun and extreme heat and chemicals used to clean the car are some of the elements causing cracks on the tire. Industry standards require that tires with cracks be replaced once they start showing.
Age Cracks are not an immediate risk. Over time, they could be a cause of concern as they expose the structures below the surface and could put the tire at risk of a blowout. It may be wise to check with your dealer on recommended measures once the cracks start appearing on the sidewall. If the cracks are severe, then replacing the tire is inevitable.
Avoiding sidewall tire blowouts.
Taking good care of your tires is essential in their preservation. Blowouts are not guaranteed but you must take caution to support your tires’ lifespan.
- Driving on proper roads.
Avoid roads that could pose a hazard to your tires, porthole roads, roads under construction with too much debris lying around and off-road terrain without suitable tires. They are capable of damaging not only your tire sidewall but also more severe damages like separating your tire from the rims. Avoid hitting against curbs and pavements which causes bubbles and bulges.
- Replace old tires.
As soon as tires get to their recommended manufacturers life span, have them replaced. Do not wait until they are showing outward signs of aging as this could be extremely dangerous. Replace them with new tires and have your dealer check them for proper installation. Have your dealer advice you on the recommended depth of tread for you to replace at.
- Maintain moderate speed.
Do not over speed, especially if driving a loaded vehicle. Check your TPMS constantly to ensure tires are within the correct inflation and confirm the weight of your load to ensure it is within the recommended capacity.
- Tire service and inspection.
Form a service regime with your dealer to have your tires checked for correct alignment, balancing, rotation, installation and wear and tear updates. Damages that are not outwardly visible but are under the surface will be easily detected by the professional repair agent. Do not negotiate and stick religiously to your tire service routine.
There are repair hacks that one can use to fix a damaged sidewall in cases of extreme emergency, to help you get to a service station.
A boot fix is one way to do it, where a big chunk of rubber is stuck inside of the sidewall in a puncture. It does not hold long and is also risky.
Vulcanizing is another hack. It is a more complex procedure that should only be done by a well experienced professional. It involves taking out the rubber inside the tire and affixing a way stronger patch. It may hold a while longer than a boot fix but again, is not a temporary measure in repairing the sidewall.
As long as punctures are on the tread area, do not ground your vehicle but have a patch installed to keep you going. Remember to keep your tires in tip-top condition to get the best of service out of them.