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Can My Damaged Tire Be Repaired?


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When you have a damaged tire, it is best to avoid shops and dealerships that offer a “quick fix” solution. An improperly repaired tire is a serious safety hazard for everyone on the road, and according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), approximately 88% of all tire repairs are done incorrectly. Unfortunately, this unnerving statistic is the result of shops and dealerships not adhering to the latest industry guidelines when it comes to tire repair. Rest assured that ArborMotion is one of the few shops that adhere strictly to these standards and perform safe tire repairs according to RMA guidelines.

What are the basics regarding safe tire repair?

A tire inspection is necessary in order to assess whether or not your damaged tire can be repaired.

A damaged tire can only be repaired if:

  • Tire Repair Ann Arbor
  • The puncture is within the tread area* of the tire – sidewall punctures are NOT repairable.
  • The tire puncture is ¼ inch in diameter or less.
  • The angle of the puncture is at least 45 degrees or more.
  • The tire does not have another repaired area overlapping the new area to be repaired.
  • There is no sidewall damage as a result of the tire being driven while flat.
  • If any one of the above requirements are not met, then the tire cannot be repaired safely. However, if the tire is repairable, then a patch-plug can be utilized.

*The “tread area” of the tire is the area that is one inch in from each sidewall.

A Patch-Plug is the ONLY way to safely repair a damaged tire according to the RMA.

The RMA no longer considers a traditional patch or a plug to be a safe repair for a damaged tire. Many shops these days still do a simple plug repair in which a plug is pushed into the hole of a tire with some vulcanizing fluid and the air leak is stopped. This is generally an acceptable temporary fix (ie: inserting a plug into a damaged tire in order to get the vehicle safely to a nearby shop). However, a plug should never be treated as a permanent repair for three reasons:

  • Driving at higher speeds will cause heat to build up in your tires. Consequently, this heat will cause the tire’s rubber to expand, increasing the possibility of the plug coming out of the tire.
  • There is only glue (vulcanizing fluid) holding the plug in its place, and the air pressure in your tire is constantly pushing the plug outward while the road surface is simultaneously pushing it back in. After a certain amount of time, this tire plug push-pull “combat” could cause the plug to dislodge.
  • When you take your vehicle in for a plug “repair,” the technician will simply clean the hole where the puncture occurred and glue a plug in place. When the tool that is used to insert a plug is pulled out of the tire, it can damage the tire’s steel cords leading to a shifted belt and a compromise in the structure of the tire.

Any tire repair should include a thorough inspection of the damaged tire, and this requires the tire to be removed from the wheel – which does not occur with a $10 plug repair. The reason that the inspection is so important is that sidewall damage often takes place when a tire has been run flat. Repairing a tire without removing the tire from the rim will often result in sidewall damage being overlooked.

The traditional patch is not considered a safe repair on its own either, according to the RMA, but it is a more reliable repair than a plug. When a tire is patched, the technician will remove the tire from the wheel, inspect the sidewall for damage, and apply the patch to the interior of the tire. The patch is applied to the interior of the tire because this is where the air pressure is, and that pressure pushes the patch outwards, which essentially makes the patch a part of the inside of the tire. However, the patch is only supported by the glue, and the glue could fail when the tire heats up at higher speeds (as stated above).

The “patch-plug” is the ideal tire repair as it combines the best elements of the patch and plug worlds; the patch keeps the plug from shifting out of place, and the plug helps the patch to stay secure to the tire. The patch-plug that ArborMotion utilizes is a one piece unit that includes a stem (plug) which is molded to the center of a patch. The stem portion is inserted into the puncture, and the patch portion is affixed to the interior of the tire. This is the safest method for repairing a damaged tire, and the only method of repair for damaged tires at ArborMotion.

Of course, a proper tire repair requires more time and materials than a “quick fix” plug. However, having your tire repaired correctly will save you money assuming your tire has sufficient tread life remaining. Also, you will be able to drive with confidence knowing that your tire repair is safe and reliable. It should be noted, however, that even a properly repaired tire will void its speed rating, which can be an important consideration for performance vehicles.

ArborMotion wants you to be aware of what proper tire repair entails in order for you and your family to be safe.

If you have any questions about tire repair, please give us a call at (734) 761-1088.

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