According to the US National Transportation Safety Board, on average, 33,000 accidents are caused by tires yearly. These accidents can be avoided if motorists know what to do. Some people resort to patching to save their costly tires as a quick fix. But unbeknownst to many, the tire wall and shoulder are irreparable zones. Therefore, knowing how close to sidewall can a tire be patched is critical. It is required to spare a gap of 6 mm or more from the tire shoulder.
Read on to know the details when you need to fix your tire.
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How Close to the Sidewall Can a Tire Be Patched?
There will be a tire patch fail when the patch is too close to the sidewall or shoulder, which is less than 6 mm.
You can’t patch a tire shoulder or patch a sidewall of a tire, and you need to replace the tire if the damage is too near the wall or directly on the tire shoulder.
Also, if the punctured hole covers more than ¼ inch, it’s no use attaching a patch. It won’t fully cover the hole, and the wheels will deflate when the car starts moving.
Why is the gap of 6mm from the sidewall important when patching your tire? Here’re what you should know about tire sidewall structure:
- The shoulder and sidewall are where the tire curves from the inside, causing it to flex and be prone to further damage.
- What could make matters worse is the significant size the puncture has created at more than a quarter of an inch.
- The closer the patch gets to the sidewall, the more fatal for your tires to get a blowout.
The sidewall accounts for the tires’ high performance and speed and holds the inner structure together, so it is critical to have your sidewall inspected from the inside out whenever you have a tire puncture.
So, make sure you know that:
- If the puncture is in the safe zone, you can apply the traditional patch as a temporary fix.
- However, if the patch is too close and goes below the 6 mm distance from the sidewall, there’s no option but to replace the tire completely.
What Kind of Damage to a Tire Can and Cannot Be Repaired?
1. Repairable Damages
- The size of the puncture injury is not larger than 6 mm (1/4 inch) in diameter.
- The puncture is in the centre of the tread region (not too close to the two outer treads), which is inside the 1.5-inch repairable zone.
- The puncture angle must be >= 45 degrees
- There are no existing patched patches that overlay the new damage in the punctured locations.
- There is no sign of sidewall damage as a result of driving on a flat tire for an extended period of time.
2. Irreparable damages
So, when can a tire not be patched? Here’re the signs showing that you might need a tire replacement:
- Puncture is more than 1/4 inch in diameter.
- The puncture falls on the irreparable sidewall and shoulder tire areas.
- Possible damages that may occur on a sidewall are bulges, gashes, cuts, cracks, scrapes and air bubbles.
- The tire has multiple injuries and repairs. There is a limit to the hole can you patch in a tire – at least 16 inches.
- The tread’s depth is below the allowable legal limit of 6 mm.
- It has run-flat tires, and patching this type of tire is impractical because it will eventually be punctured again due to uneven wear and rigidity loss.
3. Steps to Fix Sidewall Damage
Step 1: First, check how close the puncture in sidewall of tire is to see if you can still give it a quick fix for your trip to the repair shop.
Step 2: If it’s beyond 6mm from the sidewall, you can apply a plug or a patch.
- Cover the plug installer with some cement. Then thrust the drill bit into the punctured hole. Keep pushing, pulling and rotating so that the cement gets applied inside while you are shaving and cleaning the hole.
- Put some cement on the plug’s center before inserting it in. When you plug the sidewall of a tire, please ensure that the tire plug near sidewall doesn’t get too near to avoid further damage. Using the same T-handle tool, push the plug sticks 1-2 at a time. The strips will be folded with its two ends sticking out.
- Then, once fully sealed, cut the ends of the plugs and pump back air to check for any leaks and you’re ready to go.
- To apply the patch, make sure both the patch and the tire’s surface are clean and dry for the adhesion to work.
- Sand the punctured area before applying enough repair glue to bond the rubber patch to the tire’s outer surface.
- Fix back the tire to the rim by tightening the nuts and pumping back air.
How Do You Avoid Getting a Puncture?
With the frequency of use and exposure to harmful elements, it’s not uncommon to have our tires punctured. But we can follow these preventive measures to lengthen their tread life.
- Rotate your tires every 10,000 kilometers.
- Avoid speeding on rough roads and bumping into curbs.
- Regularly monitor your tire’s pressure to avoid going beyond the warranty period. The average age of tires is from 6 to 10 years before they start deflating.
- Avoid overloading your car, as it can make the tires unstable and wobbly.
- Invest in professional help and have your car checked regularly.
- Always maintain the condition of your tires and your safety by using the right tools. Instead of fixing them, you might be accelerating the damage.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long can you drive on a patched tire?
So long as the installation was done well, it can last for almost 25,000 miles, which is typically from seven to ten years or until its tread life is reached.
How close can a tire patch be to another patch?
You’ll find that a nail in sidewall of tire repairable up to a certain degree. You can patch a tire with 2 nails in it. This is possible as long as the gap between the two punctures is not less than 16 inches and not more than 2 times.
Can you patch a tire on the side of the road?
Yes, you can. Park your vehicle on the side of the road or shoulder, which is specifically reserved for road emergencies. I can get my tire patched for free when I have tire sidewall repair products in my car, should the inevitable happen.
When you plug a tire sidewall, keep a safe margin of 6 mm and above to avoid damaging the tire. A temporary “quick fix” plug helps at least to get your vehicle to the nearest auto repair shop safely.
Can you drive on a damaged sidewall?
No, it is not advisable as it could lead to a blowout. Not only is it dangerous to drive, you can also get a fine for driving on a damaged sidewall and gain penalty points on your driver’s license.
Can’t you patch a tire shoulder?
No, you shouldn’t, as it is an irreparable area. If you do, it will just be a temporary fix that could endanger lives inside the vehicle.
With frequent driving and the countless revolutions a wheel makes, it’s no longer a matter of “if” but a question of “when” will a flat tire, or blowout happen. So being knowledgeable about the essentials of tire care and repair is a must.
Knowing how close to sidewall can a tire be patched should help us exercise safety measures and get professional help for our tire’s optimum health. We can enjoy our tires’ maximum benefits if we take good care of them.