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How to Repair a Flat Tire with a Patch

Getting a flat tire is never fun, but there are ways to repair a flat tire without having to buy a new one. The patch approach seals the tire from the inside and differs from a plug, which is inserted into the puncture to seal it. The Rubber Manufacturers Association advises a plug and patch approach to fixing a punctured tire, but others believe a patch is enough. About.com advises a trained technician repair a flat tire with a patch, “Patch repairs are generally the province of trained technicians who have the equipment to dismount and remount the tire.”

Repair a Flat Tire with a Patch

This is an example of a tire patch.

Repair a Flat Tire with a Patch

To repair a flat tire with a patch you will need to make sure the puncture is on the tire’s tread and not on the tire’s sidewall, according to the RMA. The puncture should not be larger than a 1/4 inch in diameter. Repairs should not overlap and the tire should be removed from the wheel to inspect for other damage. However, if the puncture is too close to the tire’s sidewall or if the puncture is not straight, a patch will be advised over a plug. Here is how to repair a flat tire with a patch, according to WikiHow and Autos.com:

  1. Find Where your Tire is Leaking Finding the leak is sometimes as easy as pinpointing a screw or nail. Other times it can be trickier. Use a cleaner that bubbles to pinpoint the hole. Just pour the cleaner down the tire’s tread until the cleaner begins to bubble. The hole is where the bubbling occurs. Make sure to mark the spot of the hole.
  2. Use a Tire Machine To Remove Tire From the Rim Of course not everyone is going to have access to a tire machine, so this repair may be best for professionals to complete. The “bead” that holds the air seal inside the tire must be broken to remove the tire from the rim.
  3. Clean Out the Puncture Once the tire is free from the rim, an air die grinder is used to create a cleaner hole and to make the inside of the puncture coarse.
  4. Ready the Inside of the Tire for Patch Using a grinding stone bit on the die grinder, grind around the hole on the inside of the tire. WikiHow suggests grinding around the hole about 2 inches in diameter. This creates a smooth, clean surface for the patch to adhere to. Be sure to clean the area with compressed air to get rid of any debris.
  5. Apply Vulcanizing Cement Apply the cement to the inside of the tire to the area that was buffed. Let it dry until it is “tacky,” about 10 to 15 seconds.
  6. Patch the Hole Choose the best-sized patch and trim if necessary to cover the puncture. Place the patch on the smooth surface. Use a roller to make sure the patch is securely attached to the tire.
  7. Apply Rubber Patch Sealant Cover the entire patch with rubber patch sealant to be sure air will not leak through the repair. It takes about 5 minutes for the sealant to dry.
  8. Mount and Check Tire

Remember, RMA always advises a plug and patch approach. The organization advises this approach because the patch reseals the innerliner of the tire “to restore air containment.” The plug “prevents moisture from reaching the steel belts and body cord in the tire.”

Call Fisher Auto in Boulder, Colo., at 303-245-6414 with your questions on how to repair a flat tire with a patch or to have a punctured tire repaired.


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