Can you think of anyone who likes getting a flat tire? Of course not. But when one of your tires winds up with a flat or leak, whether it be from things like hitting a curb, running over a nail or picking up a sharp stone, it's time to have someone who knows what they're doing take care of it.
If you're thinking you'd like to avoid having to buy a new tire, you wonder if a patch or plug will suffice. It depends where the puncture is and how big the hole is. Most tire experts will say if the hole in the tire is less than ¼ of an inch or 6 mm, a patch can work. But a patch likely won't work if the compromised part of the tire is on its shoulder or sidewall.
Here's why. The shoulder of a tire is the part between the sidewall and tread and it's usually rounded. It's under a lot of pressure, more than even the sidewalls. And because of that curved shape, it's hard to get a patch or plug to hold.
The sidewall is the side of the tire. Sidewalls flex a lot when you drive, and the strain can cause a patch or plug to loosen up. A weak spot in a sidewall is much more likely to fail and cause a blowout. So if you have damage in the sidewall or shoulder, that tire is a good candidate for replacement, not repair.
If you have a cut or gash in your tire, it's possible the cords that strengthen your tire have also been cut. That weak spot can spell trouble, and this type of damage usually means you should get a new one.
Your service advisor can tell you what the appropriate action is to take when you have tire damage. You may be able to get good results with a patch, or you may have to replace one or more tires. Your safety is riding on them.
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