How to Repair a Tire

Normally lacking the appropriate tire pressure to brave the trails because of a hole on one of your 4×4 tires?

In this article, we teach you how to fix this so you won’t be experiencing flat tires a lot which can mess with your fun quest of conquering challenging routes, while discovering new places.

Tire Repair Guidelines

Generally, tire repairs are only allowed if the existing hole is found WITHIN the puncture repair area of the tire. This is also referred to as the crown or in simple terms, the middle part.

Now, you may be wondering, why is it prohibited to repair tires if the hole is located beyond the crown? Going back to a previous article on How to Pick and Measure ATV Tires, the crown is where the tread is found, the part of a tire that makes ground contact. The truth is, it maintains your vehicle’s proper traction on a particular terrain because it’s wrapped with cords to hold it in place.

However, the tread’s outer part (e.g. sidewall) lacks such chords that even by the moment you fill an existing gap, nothing will secure it in place which makes it possible for air leaks. And because of air leaks, it also means your safety is already compromised.

While this may be a sad news for some, there’s an exception to the rule. If your tire’s meant for off-roading, you can still repair a hole on your tire’s sidewall because of the thickness of multiple plyers in it that makes it durable and secure. In other words, here’s what you should do IF you spot a hole on your 4×4 tire’s sidewall.

What You’ll Need

Repairing a flat tire won’t be easy without your trusted tire patch kit. The tire patch kit contains all the necessary tools you’ll need to fix your tire’s annoying hole. Here’s what each of the tools look like and where they’re used for.

Tire Plugs – may be used in conjunction with patches to ensure the tire hole is tightly sealed.

Rubber Cement – is a glue-like substance applied into and over the tire hole to hold the patch.

Thin Metal Poker – is a small thin metal used for getting rid of debris stuck in the tire hole.

Valve Core and Stem – ensures the tire absorbs the right amount of air to keep it running smoothly.

Valve Core Remover – is useful for attaching and detaching a valve core.

Air Die Grinder and Metal Roller – clean and smoothen a rough hole surface area.

Small Wrench – is dual-purpose in a sense that you may use it either as a hole marker or as a remover of the air die grinder neck.

Cutting Discs – are used for slicing through tough metal surfaces for a quick trim.

Patches – are what you put over the tire hole to seal it off. Their very effective when a tire hole has a strange shape due to their polygonal structure.

1.  Dismounting a Tire

It appears to be easy but it isn’t because the tire is heavy and you may need to move it slowly but surely. After unscrewing the tire (with rim) on your 4×4, you have to lay the tire down and bring out a farm jack. Place the farm jack in between your vehicle’s body and the tire to use it as a leverage in loosening the latter.

Take note, if you haven’t removed a tire for 10 years or more, you may have difficulty loosening it because it’s very tough and clingy to the rim as opposed to removing it on a usual basis. If this is the case, you can step and lightly jump on the tire to loosen it a bit.

Once you’re done, set aside your farm jack and move your tire away from the vehicle. Make sure that it’s still in its lying position because you’ll be putting a lubricant around the tire to further loosen it. You may use any of the following:

  • Liquid soap
  • WD40
  • Windex

Lastly, use a prying bar, large screw driver or breaker bar to slowly separate the tire from the rim. It’s best to ask for a friend’s help on this part because there’ll be a moment someone should hold the tire upright.

2.  Tire Inspection

Search your tire’s interior for the existing hole. To make finding it easy, insert a small wrench or stick in the hole. By the time you identify the hole, remove the marker and use a thin metal poker to gently but repeatedly strike through it. Doing so helps you get rid of lingering dirt or debris that can make your tire repair unsuccessful.

If you’re still having a hard time seeing the hole on your tire, then you may also use a colored pen marker creating a + around it, preferably yellow or orange for high visibility purposes.

It’s also important to have an engine starting fluid handy because you may spray it over and around the area where the repair or “patch” is going as it makes the rubber cement more effective, later on.

Once the spraying is done, spread the solution evenly on the area with an old toothbrush. Then, dry it with a clean cloth.

You might notice a few bumps or rough areas on the tire that were produced during the brushing. Therefore, you need to smoothen them out with an air die grinder. Afterwards, it’ll scrape off tiny rubber pieces in powder form that you have to get rid of by using the old toothbrush, again.

3.  Applying Rubber Cement on Tire

Next is putting rubber cement on your tire. In doing this, you need a thin metal poker again that you can dip in the solution and insert it into the tire’s hole. Afterwards, use the rubber cement brush which is similar to that of a nail polish, to distribute rubber cement to and around the affected area.

Remember, it has to be completely dry for it to stick and serve its purpose. You can wait for it to dry for at least two minutes and it should be good to go.

4.  Adding a Tire Patch

There are different types of tire patches based on the tire carcass construction: one for bias ply and the other for radial ply. Another thing is they also come in various shapes to accommodate the corresponding tire hole shape: round, rectangular, diaper-shaped, etc.

Check first if the rubber cement has completely dried and if it did, it’s time to put on the tire patch. Slowly peel off the tire patch’s backside and be careful not to accidentally touch its sticky part because it can compromise its binding capacity.

Look closely on where you should be placing your tire patch or how it should be positioned. This is normally indicated by the word “bead” and which direction the arrow is pointing. Then, use a metal roller to flatten out potentially protruding or bulging surface areas of the tire patch.

For you to make sure that the hole is properly sealed, you may apply rubber cement around the tire patch’s edges and use a clean cloth to wipe away excess substance and debris. Then, let it dry.

5.  Attaching Tire to Rim Again

When everything’s settled, the tire and the rim can finally be reunited. To reduce the struggle in doing this, you have to put some lubricant around the tire and carefully insert it back to the rim. It may take some time but with reasonable hand and knee pressure, you’ll eventually get through it, then lubricate your tire, again.

Now this is important. See to it you don’t end up stressing the area of the tire where the patch is located by running a low air pressure. Even though you’re used to running your tire by about 10 PSI, you can no longer do the same this time because the moment the tire stretches, there’s a huge chance the patch will break. As an alternative, you have to slightly increase your tire’s PSI to 15 or 20.

Check this out for further details.

Other Repairing a Tire Tips

Knowing the steps in repairing a tire is crucial to a successful tire repair process. But what if you don’t have a tire repair kit? And even if you do, how sure are you that you’re doing the right thing? We’ll help you answer such questions that may suddenly pop in the most unexpected situation.

  1. Using a Spare Tire – One of the most important things to remember during 4x4ing, is carrying a spare tire. Besides, you can’t linger too long on the trail waiting to be rescued from a flat tire.
  2. Bringing an Experienced 4x4er – This is not just because you’ll have someone to talk to but because you’ll also have someone to help you when the going gets tough like encountering a flat tire.
  3. Using Plugs for Tire Repair – Don’t rely only on plugs as much as possible due to their shape. Another disadvantage of plugs is you can easily use them to seal off tire holes, without dismounting your tire, which deprives you the idea of a thorough tire inspection. These are usually the two main reasons why 4x4ers prefer tire patches, instead.

Conclusion

Learning how to correctly repair a tire lets you quickly get back on track. Even if holes outside the tire crown are considered irreparable, there’s an exception when it comes to off-roaders as far as emergency issues are concerned, when no one is more likely to help them on the trail. Bear in mind though, that repairing a tire depends on the damage number and level.