OZ Racing Wheels Australia

Tyre Repair – When to repair your puncture, and when not to

Tyre Repair in Australia

Studies show up to 85% of punctured tyres are repairable, yet most are disposed of unnecessarily. Can you imagine what Greta Thunberg thinks of that?

Your local tyre shop will happily take your hard-earned Aussie bucks for a new tyre rather than offer you a quick and cheap repair. You can’t blame them really – they need to make money – so how do you know when your tyre can be repaired as a cheaper alternative?

This guide will cover various types of punctures, which can be repaired, and which can’t. We’ll compare the cost of tyre repair in Australia vs new tyres, and help you decide which option is best for you.

Lastly we’ll look at repairing a car tyre at home, plus all the finer details about car tyre repair.

Related: If you opt for new tyres, make sure you read how to save $$$s on new tyres in Australia.

How much does it cost to repair a car tyre in Australia?

In Australia the cost of car tyre repair ranges from $20 to $50 a tyre depending on the severity of the damage, type of repair needed, or who you pay to have the tyre repaired. If you live in a remote area you may understandably have to pay more.

If the tyre is fairly new then a tyre repair may be a better option than forking out $100 to $700 on a new tyre. More so if you need the opposite tyre replaced as well.

Whether you repair or replace a tyre may depend on the severity of damage, use of vehicle, or how much tread you have left on the tyre (see the “Tread Wear Indicators” section).

How do you know if your tyre has a puncture?

Although flat tyres are almost certainly a puncture (or faulty valve), smaller punctures can occur which are harder to notice.

It may not come as a surprise the #1 cause of punctured tyres in Australia are screws and nails. Are tradies working on your block?

Usually a nail will cause a slow puncture which may go a few weeks without noticing. Steering and suspension may begin to feel slightly different, or you may not notice until you park with your tyres at a certain angle and notice one is slightly ballooned at the bottom.

Here are common signs you have a puncture:

  • Flat tyre.
  • Steering pulls to one side or cornering feels less responsive.
  • Suspension may feel softer than usual.
  • The bottom of one tyre is bulged out more than the others.
  • A thumping or thudding sound or vibration prior to a blow out. You may also experience a sense heavy wind blowing the car (similar sensation).
  • Your neighbour shouts Hey mate, your tyre looks flat.

Common causes of tyre punctures

There are four main causes of tyre punctures which can cause either slow or rapid deflation of a tyre. The type of puncture will help you decide next steps:

  • Sharp object penetrating tyre such as a screw or nail.
  • Failure of a tyre’s valve stern, either when the tyre was replaced or due to dirt and debris in the valve (the reason you should always have tyre valve caps fitted).
  • Breakage of the link between a tyre and rim, usually from a collision with a kerb, pot hole, or other external object.
  • Excessively worn out tread causing explosive tyre failure or debris from the road tearing through the tyre

How is a tyre repaired?

We know our tyres are the #1 most important safety aspect of the car, so if you’re concerned about a tyre repair being safe then don’t worry. A tyre repairer will inform you if the tyre can be repaired safety, and assuming the puncture isn’t near the tyre wall then your tyre can be made as good as new.

A tyre repairer will adhere to Australian Tyre Repair Standards, and if this is not possible will inform you the tyre must be replaced.

There are two industry recommended repair methods. The first is a two-piece stem and patch repair, or a one-piece patch/stem combination repair.

The 3 primary considerations when repairing a puncture are:

  • Evaluate the damage the object has caused.
  • Reestablish an airtight seal of the tyre’s inner liner.
  • Completely fill the path the object took through the tyre.

In general, the process of repairing a tyre is as follows:

  • The tyre technician will locate the hole with soapy water or within a vessel of water.
  • The hole is reamed to clean it, and the inner liner is prepped with a rasp.
  • A liberal dose of rubber cement is applied to the area where the patch will rest, then a plug-patch is inserted.
  • A plug fills the void in the tyre and provides some sealing.
  • The patch is then pressed against the inner liner, completing the seal.
  • The tyre is re-installed on the rim and rebalanced.

Typically, a mushroom-shaped patch and plug combination repair is the best method of repairing a punctured radial tyre.

Tyre patches alone and tyre plugs alone are not acceptable tyre repairs. The only approved tyre repair is the combination plug-patch style. In the workshop, the tyre is removed from the wheel and repaired in line with the Australian Tyre Repair Standard.

1. Take the tyre off and repair both sides

A tyre cannot be fully repaired from the outside. A temporary repair can be achieved with an external plug, but do not consider this a safe repair.

To comply with Australian Tyre Repair Standards it is necessary to remove and inspect the interior of the tyre for hidden damage, and seal the puncture both internally and externally.

2. Fill puncture path

A tyre repair must fill the path the object took through the tyre.

If this is not done properly, moisture can seep in from the opening of the puncture and reach the steel belts and/or casing cords. This exposure can cause rusting or deterioration and further compromise the structural integrity of the tyre.

3. Treat inner tube

To repair the inner liner it must be cleaned, buffed, cemented, patched and coated to restore its ability to retain air. This can only be done from inside the tyre and another reason why plug-only repair is unwise.

Can you repair a tyre at home?

Keeping in mind your tyres are one of the main safety aspects of your car, and a tyre fitter will perform the repair inline with Australian Tyre Repair Standards, it is possible to repair your tyre at home.

Dune offer a 4WD Premium Tyre Repair Kit (available from Anaconda). Although being marketed for 4WD enthusiasts, such as to repair a punctured tyre on an off-road jaunt, the kit is suitable for repairing tyres on a passenger car, 4WD, ATV, or truck.

Here’s a video to get you started:

How to decide whether to repair or replace a car tyre

There are general considerations which will help you decide whether to repair or replace a tyre. Your main two considerations will be the extent of damage, but also how much longevity is left in the tyre.

Important considerations (and when not to repair a tyre)

If the puncture is larger than 6mm you should never repair a tyre.

A sidewall puncture in your tyre is unrepairable. The sidewall and tyre shoulder area flex a great deal, which means tyre patches would quickly come loose. Instead, your tyre will need to be replaced.

Impacting a kerb or hitting large potholes can crack your rim where the tyre bead seals. If you’ve hit something and your tyre is now flat, you may require additional repairs above and beyond a tyre repair, such as rim repair or replacement.

If the tyre has been repaired previously then consider the structural integrity may be too compromised by an additional repair, especially if the puncture is in a similar area. The number of repairs may be limited by the tyre manufacturer’s recommendations and repair policy.

How used is the tyre?

Tread Wear Indicators give you a good idea of how much life is in the tyre, but you should also consider how damaged the tyre may be from road debris or collisions with hard objects.

How long did you drive on a punctured tyre, and how deflated was the tyre?

Driving on a flat tyre for any distance can severely damage the structural integrity of the tyre, making it more necessary to replace the tyre instead.

Age of the tyre is also a factor, or whether your vehicle has remained stationary for lengthy periods of time.

If you are in any doubt, seek the advice of a local tyre repairer.

Tread wear indicators

All road going tyres are legally required to have Tread Wear Indicators (TWI).

For vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of 4.5 tonnes or less, a tyre must have a tread pattern around its circumference that is at least 1.5mm deep across the surface area of the tyre which comes in contact with the road. These are small raised platforms of rubber moulded into the main tread grooves.

You should be able to locate the TWI by following the indicators in the shoulder of the tyre:

  • Look for the letters TWI. 
  • A small triangular arrow head shape (see below).
  • Sometimes by a company brand logo , (Goodyear ‘Wingfoot’ the ‘Michelin Man’, etc.)
How to locate the tread wear indicator on a tyre
How to locate the tread wear indicator on a tyre.

Once you have found the tyre wear indicators you can determine if they are worth repairing or replacing. There is no point repairing a tyre if it will need to be replaced in the next 6 to 12 months regardless, and never repair a tyre without 1.6mm of tread as an absolute minimum.

Run flat tyres

If your car has run flat tyres it is unlikely these can be repaired. You can consult the tyre manufacturer for their repair policy.

Run flat tyres (otherwise known as mobility) tyres are becoming more popular as an original equipment manufacturer’s fitment to new cars, particularly for BMWs. This technology allows you to get home and to the store safely at a reduced speed and range without the need to change the tyre.

The speed restriction for run flat tyres is generally 80 km/h with a distance restriction to travel less than 80km on these tyres.

For advice on run flat and self sealing tyres it is best to ask your local tyre shop. Run flat tyre repairs would be conducted in accordance with the Australian Tyre standard and in line with product specific recommendations from the world class manufacturers.

Manufacturers policy on repaired tyres

The warranty of a tyre may or may not be compromised by a tyre repair. This will depend on the tyre manufacturer’s policy.

When it comes to speed ratings, some manufacturers allow this to be retained if the specified multi-step repair procedure is followed exactly, by a professional tyre repairer. However, because manufacturers have no control over the state of the puncture or the quality of the repair, they often consider the high speed capability of a tyre to be compromised.

Final thoughts on tyre repair

Ultimately the decision to repair or replace a tyre is up to you.

If a tyre is repaired professionally in conformance of the Australian Tyre Wear Standards there is no reason the tyre won’t offer you maximum longevity. However, replacing a punctured tyre will mitigate any risk you face from a poor repair or subsequent damage in the future.

If in doubt, seek the advice of a tyre repair professional or purchase a new tyre (or new set of tyres).

If you decide to replace tyres, read our guide on how you can save a great deal of money in doing so.

If you have any further thoughts or questions on tyre repair, get in touch or add a comment below.

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