How to Patch Your Tire

Apr 19, 2016 by Cedric (Driver Weekly)

When something happens to your tire on the road, you have a few options. You can stop and replace it with your spare, you can patch up the hole, or you can hope nothing worse happens and drive slowly and carefully to the nearest mechanic for help. Of course, the third option is less than ideal and frequently ends in calling a tow truck. If you don’t have a spare tire or want to avoid using it if possible, then you should learn how to patch a tire. This is a fairly easy process, and patches can keep your tire functional until you can replace it with a new one. In some cases, you may even be able to put off the replacement with a successful, high-quality patch.

Find Your Leak

The first step when you patch a tire is figuring out what area needs to be patched. Unfortunately, your tire needs to be pressurized properly to find the leak. You should inflate your tire until it reaches the pressure indicated in the owner’s manual. Then you can search for cuts or holes. If you can’t see the problem, use your ears and listen for a hissing sound or feel your tire until you find the leak. In some cases, the leak will be incredibly hard to find. When this happens, you can mix some soap and water and then spray the tire. Look for bubbling, as this will show you where the leak is.

Take off the Tire

Your next step is to mark the leak so you can remember where it is. You will have to take the tire off your car to patch it. Start by loosening your lug nuts using a tire iron (lug wrench) or an impact wrench. Remember to loosen the lug nuts, jack up your car, and finish removing the lug nuts. After this, you can pull the wheel off its wheelbase. If there is a protruding object in the tire, remove it.

Patch the Tire

Finally, you are ready to patch the tire. Start by removing the valve stem core with the special tool designed for the job. This releases tire pressure, letting you break the bead sealing the rim and tire with a hammer or tire spoon. Now you will have to remove your tire from the rim carefully. Clean the hole with an air die grinder and spray some pre-buff cleaner onto the inner area of the tire you plan to patch. Roughen the area with the grinding stone, clean the area with compressed air and apply some vulcanizing cement onto the inner surface. Now you can remove the plastic and put the patch into place. Start by pushing the pointy end into the hole and getting rid of air bubbles with a roller. Apply rubber patch sealant and let it dry. Finally, put the rim back on the tire and return the tire to its original spot on your car.

Purchases the Proper Tools

As you can see, a high-quality tire patch requires the proper tools. You will need to have the right tools on hand to complete a patch, especially by the side of the road. Thankfully you can also purchase a flat tire repair kit with the essential supplies you need. If you use the proper tools and take the time you need, a high-quality patch should keep your tire in decent shape and allow you to avoid an expensive visit to the mechanic.

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