How to Repair Tire Punctures

Repairs must be done by qualified technicians. Unfortunately, not all punctures are repairable, which may mean scrapping a nearly new tyre, but your safety is at stake.

Unrepairable damage

Punctures in the sidewall, or close to it, can’t be repaired and neither can large holes, like where a large stone has gone through. The maximum number of repairs allowed in a tyre is three. In cases where carrying out a repair would result in the tyre being unsafe, some dealers will do it if you are stupid enough to demand it and sign a disclaimer agreeing you have been told. Where the repair would be illegal, they must refuse to do it.

Some people get round this situation by fitting an inner tube, but this is not possible on all wheels and is a false economy because it doesn’t last long. In addition, inner tubes deflate much more suddenly than tubeless tyres, which could lead to loss of control and is why it is extremely dangerous on trailers, caravans and high performance cars.


When a puncture is repaired the wheel needs rebalancing because the weight of a plug has been added to the tyre and you can’t be sure of getting the tyre back on the wheel in exactly the same place as before. Most dealers do this automatically, but check it will be done.

Pricing replacements

If you know you’re going to have to replace a tyre it is a good idea to phone round for prices. If you have to replace one unexpectedly, because of an unrepairable fault, you must decide whether to do it then and there and risk paying more or whether you want to drive round without a spare until you can find the best price – which could well be at the dealer you’re currently in. If you’re a long way from home, the former action is wiser.

Tyres are something where small local firms often at least match the big national companies and may even invite you to try the big boys first.

Make sure prices quoted include VAT, fitting, balancing and a new valve (it is usual and sensible to replace the valves when you renew tyres). Very cheap brands you’ve never heard of are often a false economy because they don’t last as long as the big names but, equally, if you are offered two big names it is probably not worth paying for the dearer one. However, there is a lot to be said for staying with the car maker’s original choice, if it is not too pricey, because you know it suits the car.

Before you phone round you need to make a note of the car’s make, model and model year (or registration) and the size of the tyres fitted (like 175/70 R 13). The dealer will be able to look up tyres of that size with suitable weight and speed ratings for the car.

Time for change

If you are unhappy with the current tyre, perhaps because it is noisy on local road surfaces or keeps getting punctures, discuss this with local tyre dealers. They often know alternatives that work. For example, they may know that one brand copes better with rural life than another because its tread pattern is less likely to trap the flints that get washed onto roads in some areas. If you have special needs, like needing to do serious off-road work in difficult conditions, talk to your car manufacturer first because they may be able to suggest tested tyres to enable the car to do what you want.

Tread carefully

Having different tread patterns won’t make much difference on most cars, though different tread depth can. On any car, having a new tyre on one side and a nearly worn out one on the other is unwise because one side has so much more grip than the other. It can also upset electronic driving aids because of the differences in wheel rotation speeds, and on driven axles, especially with four-wheel-drive systems, it can cause mechanical stress. So if you replace a tyre and the one on the other side is well worn, consider replacing that as well. If your spare is unused you could swap it for the partially worn tyre.

If you replace a pair of tyres, put them on the back and put what were the backs on opposite sides at the front. This gives you greater grip at the back and extends the tyres’ life by getting them worn in without having to steer the car.

Related posts:

  1. How to Spot Tyre Faults
  2. How to Change a Tire Guide
  3. When to Replace Tires and How to Extend their Life
  4. How to Check Your Cars Tyre Pressures
  5. How to Establish the Best Tyre Pressures for Your Car

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