Some times us 4×4 drivers tend to get well off the beaten track, whether out on the moors and highlands or out in the deserts on an overland adventure, and if we suffer the misfortune of a puncture we are very much on our own.
Changing to the spare is the first option we all turn to, however in certain circumstances other options may be required, for example a spare is not available or the wheel cannot be removed.
So what options do we have left?
Well you can plug your tyre puncture if you are carrying the plug kit.
Tyre plugging in no way substitutes a professionally applied internal patch, but having the option of plugging a tyre can save you lots of cash in service or road side call-outs and tremendously reduce the amount of hassle and down time that a flat tire brings. If you are off road and off the beaten track, many tyre companies will not even attend your breakdown.
So, as a temporary fix, plugging the tyre will allow you to get back on the road and finish your day and have the tire repaired or replacement at a more convenient time.
Tire plugs are sticky rubber-impregnated pieces of yarn that, when stuffed into the offending hole, stop the air leak. The repair is often very easy, and if you catch the puncture fast enough you can plug it before the tire fully deflates. In fact, our experience tells us that digging out the repair kit or finding a buddy on the trail with a repair kit is often the biggest delay in tire repair.
Lets run through the routine;
1, The first step in tire repair is to remove the offending item. That could be a stick, nail, screw, even an exhaust mounting that happened to get caught at just the wrong angle before being run over. Remove the item with a pair of side cutters or pliers.
2, Now to prepare the remaining hole to receive the plug. This tool is called the reamer and its use is twofold. One, is to make sure that the hole is large enough to accept the next tool you will be inserting, and two, is to rough up the internal sides of the hole to make sure that the rubber cement has the best chance to adhere to the holes surface area.
3, Now take some rubber cement and smear it all over the plug and even put a dollop on the hole you will be pushing all this into. Obviously one reason for the rubber cement is adhesion but another is that it acts as “lube” to help get the plug and the insertion tool inside the hole to about half the length of the plug once it is doubled over.
4, Now, with all your effort and as much speed as you can, yank out the insertion tool, without losing your grip. What this does is sever the plug and allow for the removal of the insertion tool leaving just the plug coated with cement in the void.
5, Let the cement harden for ten to fifteen minutes and fill the tyre with air. Then trim off the excess so as not to disturb the bond that you want to happen between the plug and the tyre once you get rolling again.
It really is as simple as that !!
Another derivative from the plug is a plug patch. This is both a plug and patch, this goes from the inside of the tire to the outside. It’s pushed through and then you grab it with a pair of pliers and you pull it. It has a rubber plug that is built into it, so once this is pulled through, the metal piece comes off, the inside is a patch, it seals the inside, it seals the outside, it’s considered a permanent repair.
However please note tyre shoulder and sidewall punctures CANNOT BE REPAIRED, and no attempt should be made to do so. There simply is not a safe way to plug, or patch a sidewall simply because of the extreme flex that sidewalls undergo when cornering or even going over bumps.
Don’t try it. If you do and it fails then you are jeopardising your life, the lives of those in the car with you and on the highway around you.
Hopefully this has helped those who were not aware of this method of roadside tyre repair. Self sufficiency is more than just about Swiss army knives and band-aids, it is about being able to help yourself out of different precarious situations.
Knowledge is power!
Check out the Safety Seal – How To Video: