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Flat repair - who to believe?

I brought a flat tire from my car into a couple places (that happen to sell tires also). Both said that the puncture was too close to the sidewall edge to be repaired. The second place I took it happen to be a Sears auto center and the manager wasn’t sure and actually told me to check with the tech. When I showed him the tire he said that the tire could be repaired, but because it was 1 inch from the sidewall, that the policy was it couldn’t be repaired there because of liability. He then told me that if it was his tire, he’d just put a plug in it becasue he had never seen a plug fail (in the part of the tire that the puncture is). The first place told me that it was illegal to only put a plug in a tire. I’ve brought tires into garages over the years and had plugs put in them and never had one issue. What’s the real story here ? Is it strictly liability with these?

Anymore, if you want to repair a flat, you almost have to do it yourself…Todays repair shops can’t be bothered messing with flat tires…

Its pretty easy to install a plug if you want to give it a whirl. You can get the stuff you need from most any auto parts store.

I will add, however, that I wouldn’t completely trust it. I did have one fail on me - not catastrophically, but it started to leak. The right way to do it is to pull the tire and patch it from the inside. The tire should then be rebalanced.

In that light, Caddyman is mostly right. To pull the tire, patch it inside, remount and rebalance, most people would get aggravated at the cost. Its not going to be worth the time and potential aggravation for a lot of shops.

It sounds to me like you have a puncture in what could be called a “yellow zone”. If the puncture is in the tread area, it is repairable, but if it is pretty close to the sidewall, a lot of tire shops will hesitate to repair it due to liability issues. The closer to the sidewall the repair is, the more likely it is to fail, although if it is done properly, it will NOT fail. If you can find an independently owned and operated tire shop, they will most likely repair it for you without much, if any, hassle. If you get tired of looking for a place to repair it for you, you can repair it yourself with a plug. A plug is not generally considered a proper repair because there are such better and more reliable ways to repair a tire, but for a DIY’er, it’s an easy way to save some time and money. They rarely fail, but their failure rate is higher than with the patch/plugs that are commonly used by tire shops.

A tire can be repaired in most locations including the sidewalls if repaired from the inside using the proper equipment. It would require about 1/2 hour of time and few people would throw $30 to $60 into a badly worn tire and certainly, the shops want to avoid come backs and liability from failed efforts so they just refuse to do it.

A hole in the sidewall is in an area where the tire flexes and that means a plug won’t hold up over time.

When I’ve had tires repaired I have them take the tire off the wheel and put a patch on the inside of the tire. This type of repair holds up better. Still, some places don’t like to put patches on the sidewall either, for the same reason. The flexing of the tire can eventually lead to a patch detaching and the repair failing.

Some shops will do sidewall repairs, and others won’t. Since Sears has been involved in major law suits they are legal adverse. A local tire mom and pop tire shop is more likely to make a repair and tell you it may or may not hold.

As a very fortunate Subaru owner who was able to repair 4 tires over two cars I respectively disagree.

Two of the tires were repaired free at chains. The two I paid for done no questions asked. Although ALL the shops handed me no receipt or paper work for the work paid or not.

The sidewall is also what supports the weight of the car. A hole, ANY hole, means a structural weakening, and patched or not, increases the chances of a blowout.

Yea, it is liability.  A leak around the rim or in the tread area of a tyre in good condition can be repaired and few tyre shops would refuse to fix it.  However an older tyre or a damaged belt or seal etc. makes any fix questionable and you don't really want to drive on a questionable tyre. 

 Note: Sears is not a good place to go for automotive service. (I once worked there and they have not changed since then)  Sears is only one step ahead of the quick oil change places.  At sears you likely will get the needed service, and a few additional jobs, that did not need to be done, but have good profit margins.  The fast oil change places far too often don't get the job done properly.

This issue never goes completly away and you are going to get a range of answers. The reason on why you get a range of “Yes I will do it” to “NO too close to the sidewall” (and too close to the sidewall is cause for rejection) may depend simply on if the person asked to do the repair already has some work to do or is just standing around. If he is just standing around he may agree to fix your tire.

We had alot of discussion amoung mechanics about using plugs. Some would look at you with extreme disrespect if you suggested using a plug and others pointed out that Porsche accepts the process of plugging tires.

Plugging is the BEST method of repairing nail punctures because it seals the tire from both sides, keeping water from penetrating the steel cords which can lead to corrosion and failure. There are types of repair materials that combine a plug and a patch which produces the best possible repair…But for most simple nail punctures in the tread area, a correctly installed plug works just fine…The key term here is “correctly installed”. Problems arise when the technician fails to follow the original puncture track with the probe and instead makes a NEW puncture, which he then plugs…But the original hole inside the tire has not been repaired allowing air into the cord structure which will separate the tire after a period of time…

I’m getting the tire fixed as I write this. It will be plugged. The issue I had with this tire and my reason for sending out the post is that the puncture is NOT anywhere near the sidewall. It’s a little over 1 full inch in on the tread. I’ve had sidewall punctures before and even had some that were on the “corner” of the tire where the sidewall meets the tread. I completely understand repair shops not wanting to patch those for the reasons stated above. Years ago I had a tire on a Ford plugged at a repair shop and the puncture was a lot closer to the sidewall than this puncture. I never had any problems with it. I was told that according to DOT standards that a plug is not considered a permanent fix for a tire, yet as I said, I’ve never had any problems with plugs alone.

i have been if the tire business for over 40 years. i could not tell you how many tires i have seen ruined because the plug missed the actual hole, or failed and leaked after a very short period of time. at best a plug is a temporary repair. best way to repair is with a plug patch. you may pay 40 bucks for repair and re-balance but it is worth it

I took a carpet protection nail (the kind they use in model homes to secure sheet plastic over the carpet) right in the sidewall of a new tire. I had them put an inner tube in the tire and rode it for 55,000 miles with no trouble. When I replaced it I gave the tube to the kids.

I’ve been told to always patch from the inside but it’s hard to find someone to do that. I’ve never had a plug fail but I destroyed a tire trying to plug it myself; lesson learned.

When I was having a tire plugged years ago, the mechanic who was plugging it said that if a plug is done properly, it should be as good as new. As I mentioned, I’ve nevrer had a plug fail. I would have preferred having it plugged AND patched from the inside. But as I said, no shop I checked with was willing to do that. The patched they showed me they would have use, was probably more than 2 inches in diameter and they said the patch would have been too close to the sidewall.

If the tech who actually looked at it suggested that he’d plug it if it were his, I’d just tell him to plug it…and I’d check my spare to be sure it was ready to use and then keep an eye on the tire for awhile. Worst case, you’ll end up replacing the tire 'cause the plug has a slow leak. I’ve never heard of a plug failing catastrophically and causing a sudden blowout, so there’s no danger involved.

Caveat: if the car were normally driven by a loved one, or the tread were low anyway, I’d just replace the tire (or tires if necessary).

I agree with the last statement there - I’m the only one who drives this car. I’m just surprised at the fact that recently (last few years), repairing flat tires has changed so much and fewer and fewer shops are willing to plug/patch a tire unless it’s dead center on the tread. Again, I understand if it’s near the sidewall the reluctance in plugging/patching. But this puncture was clean and was a good 1 inch plus from the nearest point to the sidewall. When I saw the patch they used, my first thought was it would eliminate all but center line punctures in most tires !