The only way to safely fix a flat tire is to first dismount it from the wheel so you can examine it. You cannot safely repair your tire without checking it first, and the only way to check it correctly is not only to examine it from the outside, but to check it from the inside as well.
If you find yourself with a flat tire on the side of the road, and you don’t have a spare, we suggest that you have your vehicle towed to a tire shop. If you instead inflate your tire by using a tire sealant, or if you have a plug punched into the puncture from the outside of the tire, please be aware that these are only temporary fixes. Even though an airtight plug might seem to have done the job, your tire might have experienced internal damage which can be dangerous on the road.
Your tire is probably repairable if:
- the puncture is in the tread, not in the sidewall.
- the puncture is no more than ¼-inch in diameter.
- the puncture is at least about an inch away from the shoulder.
- you drove only a short distance when the tire was flat.
- you did not drive for an extended period of time when the tire was underinflated.
How to Find the Puncture
- A soapy sponge is an easy tool to help find a puncture. Run a soapy sponge across the entire tire. Look for bubbles where the air is escaping.
- Immerse your tire in a tub of water. You will see a stream of bubbles coming from the puncture or maybe leaking air from where the tire contacts the wheel.
Please bring your vehicle to a tire professional to examine your tire once you have determined that it can probably be repaired. Remember that the above list of repairable tire damage is a good bet, but it is not carved in stone. When your tire professional examines the dismounted tire, he or she might discover that the tire cannot be repaired and must be replaced with a new tire.
However, if the tire is repairable, and it is repaired correctly, the repair will last for the remaining life of the tire.