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Owning a car isn’t just about driving around getting from one place to another. Knowledge of simple repair work is key if you want to bring down the maintenance cost of automobiles. One of the most common problems that arise with any automobile is that of flat tires. While most of us carry a replacement, punctured tires are usually given for repair at workshops. But you could save yourself some cash with a little know-how of how to fix a flat. And, since most vehicles these days use tubeless tires, knowing how to fix one will go a long way in adding to your knowledge. Of course, there’s nothing like getting yourself a brand new tire but that’s out of the question if you don’t have a spare while on the road or if you can’t afford one.
Difficulty level: Easy (Even first timers can accomplish it with a minimum of effort)
Time required: 20 minutes to half an hour
1. Pliers to remove the object causing the flat
2. A smoothening tool to level out the sides of the tire before the puncture strip is applied
3. Puncture repair strips/vulcanizing fluid/rubber inserts
4. A puncture strip insertion tool
5. A knife or a blade to snip excess puncture strips
Estimate cost: Rs 250-250. Tubeless tire repair kits can be purchased online or at most auto repair stores.
1. Go over the punctured tire carefully and search for the damaged spot. If it’s a nail, then it should be easy to find. You may find it more difficult to hunt for smaller culprits.
2. Use the pliers to pluck out the foreign object. Pull it out carefully so that you don’t enlarge the tear which will become more difficult to repair.
3. Put the smoothening tool into the hole, pushing and pulling it in and out several times. Make sure that the edges of the tear are smooth and that the hole is big enough to house the puncture repair strip or the rubber inserts. Once you’re done, leave the smoothening tool inside the tear.
4. Remove the smoothening tool and use the vulcanizing fluid to cement the hole. Apply it 2-3 times until a sufficient amount has been coated.
5. Using the puncture strip insertion tool, thread the strip or rubber insert through the eye about half way. Apply a bit of the vulcanizing fluid onto the strip and insert it into the hole. Push it firmly through until about 25 percent or 10mm is left protruding above the tire. Make sure that the strip fully covers the tear and that there are no gaps.
6. Pull out the insertion tool and let the strip or rubber insert set and seal for several minutes.
7. Use a pump to inflate the tire or take it to the workshop if you don’t have one. Ask an expert to inspect the tire for additional leaks.
8. Now that your tire is fixed, use the knife or blade to snip off the excess tire strip.
1. When buying a tire repair kit, it’s also a good idea to get yourself an electronic tire inflator. This comes in handy if you need to repair a flat while you’re on the road and are miles away from a workshop.
2. You can also purchase additional puncture repair strips which are sold individually. However, make sure that the strips are of original quality as the fakes ones won’t hold out for too long.
Things to watch out for:
1. Always use protective gloves when handling sharp objects like insertion tools, pliers and smoothening tools.
2. While learning how to plug a flat tubeless tire will go a long way in solving your puncture woes, there’s nothing like getting a replacement. Strips and plugs do help seal tires but like any patch, they can become worn and lead to another flat.
3. It’s advised that tubes should never be used to fix tubeless tires. Most tubeless rims incorporate a drop center that prevents the tube from coming into contact with the tire. The rim can get damaged or air can suddenly escape leading to a decrease in air pressure. Tubeless tires possess thicker sidewalls than their traditional counterparts. The inner tube supports tube tire sidewalls to maintain contact between the inner tube and the tire. Cars using radial tires have stiffer sidewalls that can cause friction with the tube. This can lead to a sudden blowout which can be dangerous especially while driving at high speeds. Therefore, use only plug and patch methods to fix a flat on a tubeless tire.