How to Use Tire Repair Kit

Knowing how to use a tire repair kit is one of those things we all hope we will never have to implement in our real lives. It’s a plan B, like pepper spray or a bandage – you hope you never have to use it, yet you’re glad to know it’s there.

As a driver, knowing how to fix a tire is essential. Whether you’re a woman driving, or a man, you should always know how to fix your own problems without having to scream out for help to the closest vulcanizer. This is something you have to know, like how to change a tail light. A flat tire is just one of those things that will happen to anyone at some point in their lives, so you should learn how to fix it in time, so you can be prepared. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Let’s start with the basics, shall we?

How Do You Know If You Have a Flat Tire?

Before we head straight into what a tire repair kit looks like, you should know what a flat tire that needs repair looks like. For starters, the easiest way to figure out if something is wrong with your tires is to take a look at your dashboard. If there is anything wrong, there will most certainly be some kind of an indication.

The Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) will notify you if there is anything wrong with the tires. However, that could mean one of many things, one of them being tire pressure, which is no big deal, and only means that you should stop by the next gas station and have someone pump it again. 

If your tire gets ruptured a bit more seriously, you will definitely feel it while driving. You will start to feel your steering wheel become more unstable, and you won’t be able to control your vehicle as well and maintain the speed. But your flat tire could also go unnoticed for a longer period of time. In those situations, the difference isn’t obvious, so I recommend going around the car and feeling each of the tires, and comparing them. If one of them is off, you will absolutely be able to feel it.  

How Do People End Up With Flat Tires?

This is a regular occurrence, no matter how great your tires are or how experienced a driver you are. An unexpected pothole or curb comes out of nowhere, and the blunt force impact is enough to make the tire rupture. Not to mention countless objects on the road that could rip your tire. And more tires rupture in the summer than in winter, since the difference between summer and winter tires is that the winter ones are sturdier. 

What Should You Do In Case of a Flat Tire? 

If you ever do notice a flat tire, pull over immediately. A flat tire could cause all kinds of problems while driving, so as long as you have it, you present a danger on the road, especially while driving at night. And if you’re in no position to call a vulcanizer or change your flat tire because you don’t have a spare one, there is no need to be alarmed, your tire repair kit is more than enough.

A car with a flat tire
Pull over and remove yourself from traffic if you notice a problem with your tire

What Is a Tire Repair Kit?

A tire repair kit is a portable kit containing the right tools to help you quickly fix a flat tire. It’s not a perfect or a permanent solution like changing the tire, but it will be more than enough in a pinch. A lot of cars have them in the trunk, right next to your fire extinguisher and a first aid kit. If for whatever reason you don’t already have one, they are really easy to find, look in your local auto parts store or simply order them online, but keep in mind there are two types – sealant and a plug type. 

Tire Sealant Repair Kit Is Great for Smaller Holes

This type of a repair kit contains a salient you’re supposed to inject into the tire through its valve stem. Then, the sealant fills any holes from the inside out, and seals the tire that way so that no air can escape. The tire sealant repair kit is not that common, since it’s more expensive, not as accessible and easy to use as the tire plugs, and the sealant needs to be injected into the tire by an electric inflator. 

Tire Plug Repair Kit – The Most Common Solution

Tire plug repair kit is the most common one out there, and it contains a plug that you need to insert into the hole in your tire in order to stop the air from leaking out any further. The plug comes in two styles – it’s either a type of string that’s about four or five inches long, or it’s a leather piece covered with vulcanizing cement. These two plugs are the best solution to larger rips, but they still have to be smaller than ¼ of an inch. 

What Does the Tire Plug Repair Kit Contain?

Since this is the more accessible option, I think it’s better to learn how to fix a tire on this one. Of course, each brand will have its own unique kit, and there will be differences between them, such as price point. The more expensive ones will usually be a lot easier to use, and have more tools and items that could help you out, such as a small air compressor, or a razor for cutting off the excess of the plugs. But there are staples that every kit must contain, such as:

  • Plugs – Obviously, the most important thing each kit has to contain are plugs, whether they’re the leather type or the string type, they both have the same use and goal – stop the air from escaping the tire. 
  • A reamer – Next, we have a very important tool. A reamer is used to clean out the hole in the tire so you can insert the plug more precisely and easily. 
  • A plug insertion tool – This is a little tool that’s supposed to help you insert the plug into place. 
  • Rubber cement or glue – Whichever one you get inside your kit, they both have the same purpose, they will be used as a glue to bind the plug onto to tire.
  • A rasp – A small tool you’re supposed to use to poke around inside the hole to rough it up a bit, so that the plug can adhere better to it. 
  • Pliers – Sounds simple enough, but a pair of pliers is a must have in order to pull out and remove any strange objects that ripped the tire and created the hole you need to fill. 

How Should I Use My Tire Plug Repair Kit?

If the worst case scenario does occur and you find yourself in the situation where you have to fix the tire yourself, you’ll be all set as long as you have a kit with you. The first thing you need to remember is that these kits aren’t meant to fix every situation. If your tire completely rips in half a plug won’t really be able to help it. Your kit is only meant for holes smaller than ¼ of an inch in diameter. Any larger, and your tire has to be changed, and it’s beyond repair. But if it’s just a tiny bump in the road you can fix on your own, follow these steps and you’ll fix your tire better than any vulcanizer would. 

Get All of Your Equipment Ready to Go

For starters, you have to gather all of the tools and items you will be needing so you can have them at hand’s reach. If you have company, the whole process will go by a lot smoother since you will have someone handing you every tool as you go, but if you’re alone, all you need is a bit of preparation and organization. Here are some things you should get out of your trunk and prepare:

  • The tire plug repair kit – obviously,
  • Gloves – It’s hard work, you have to protect your hands,
  • A sharp knife if the kit didn’t already come with one,
  • A pair of pliers if they weren’t already included in the kit.
Find Out Where the Air Is Leaking From – Locate the Hole

Once you have everything assembled, the first step is to find the source of the problem. You have to locate the rupture. It should be fairly obvious, but if it’s well-hidden, use the soap hack – spray soapy water on the whole tire and look for air bubbles.

Carefully Remove the Object That Caused the Puncture

Once you’ve located the rupture, carefully remove the object that caused the rip, if there is one. Make sure to use gloves and a pair of pliers, and be extra careful when picking this object out, if it caused a rupture in the tire, it will have no problem cutting you.

Prepare the Hole for the Plug – Clean It

The next step is to simply prepare the hole for the plug. Clean it from any debris by using your reamer. This step should also make the hole a little bigger so that the plug can fit better, so don’t worry if it starts to tear even more. Now would also be a good time to use the rasp to roughen up the inside of the hole a bit.

Carefully Insert the Plug Into the Hole

Now comes the most crucial part of the whole operation – you have to insert the plug into the puncture. This part will make you feel like a surgeon, and that’s great since this should be done with surgical precision. The process is the same no matter which type of plug you get inside your kit. Get the rubber cement and apply it onto the plug, just make sure not to overdo it. A small amount goes a long way. After that carefully insert the plug and use the plug insertion tool to push it further down, and after that remove the tool. And voila – your flat tire is filled.

Trim Any Excess of the Plug

After you’ve removed the tool, one of the final touches is to trim off the excess plug so that it’s leveled with the tire. Use the tool that came in the kit or your own sharp knife if the kit didn’t come with any.

Inflate the Tire Back to Its Normal Shape

And the final step – inflate your tire back to its normal pressure by using your tire inflator or compressor. Most kits should already contain it, except the more affordable ones.

Double Check If Everything Went According to Plan

Once everything is done, take a second look and check the pressure of all tires before going back on the road. If you feel that everything is in order, safely continue your drive.

If You’re Not Sure How to Do It Properly, There Is No Shame In Asking for Help – Call a Vulcanizer

If even after all of my instructions you still feel like a professional would do a better job, feel free to call the closest vulcanizer to fix your tire if you get the opportunity. They will do everything much quicker, and probably check your brake fluid while they’re at it.