Tire Repair... Off Road Style!
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Flat tires and tire repair are common challenges for off road travelers… are you prepared to fix a flat on the trail?
I’ve had more flat tires while four wheeling then I can remember and a good number of these flats were the second or third of the day! Needless to say, I’ve spent a lot of time hiking out for help.
Always keep in mind that flat tires are the most common off road
With all the inexpensive tire repair kits available to off road adventures today… one or even multiple flats shouldn’t present a problem anymore.
First… always carry a good spare tire, preferably an exact match to the others on the vehicle. A proper jack, portable air source and strong lug wrench come in handy as well.
Tire Repair Options in the Field
Tire shops are notorious for over torquing lug nuts. I’ve broken lug wrenches trying to change a flat tire in the field. Make certain your lugs are at the proper torque setting so you can remove them if need be.
1… The first and best option… is to use the spare, this way you can take your flat tire to a tire shop later for a proper repair.
2… The stuff found in cans, such as fix-a-flat seem to be very popular due to ease of use. The drawbacks are, it’s only a temporary fix and messy to remove later at the tire shop.
The goo only seals the tread area, not the sidewalls and the inflation part doesn’t work very well.
Using the sealant/inflator in a can is a simple procedure. Just attach the hose to the valve stem and squeeze the nozzle to release the sealant and inflate the tire at the same time. Quick and easy!
3… Tire breaking tools and a patch kit allow you to take a radial or bias tire off the rim to repair (patch) the puncture from the inside. The bonus, this method allows thorough inspection for hidden damage.
The downside, this procedure is a lot of work (it’s possible that you won’t be able to break the bead) and you could damage your aluminum rims and tire too! Unless you have specialty tire tools like TyrePliers!
First remove the tire from the vehicle. Then remove the valve core to let all the air out. Mark the position of the valve core on the tires.
Next lay the tire flat on the ground, stand on it and use a tire bar to break the beads. Finally, remove the tire from the rim and apply the patch, reinstall, inflate and mount.
4…Tire plugs for radial tires work well on both sidewalls and tread alike. I’ve even seen large gashes in sidewalls, repaired in the field with multiple plugs. This method produces an excellent temporary fix and you probably won’t even have to remove the tire.
Tire plugs, this procedure is relatively simple and straightforward. I have to admit that I have tires with these plugs in them that have survived over 40,000 miles without problems.
First, read the instructions that came with the kit! Then, locate the cause of the leak, remove all puncture objects, and clean the puncture area to keep debris from getting inside the tire during the repair.
Next, ream the puncture path with the ream tool to rough it up, apply cement as needed and make the hole large enough to pass the plug through.
Now, thread the plug cord through the eyelet of the needle tool. Apply cement onto the plug if called for.
Finally, push the needle tool, with plug into the tire as instructed to insert the plug. Pull the needle tool out with a slight twist, hopefully, leaving the plug in.
Cut the remaining plug down to about 1/8 inch sticking out of the tire. Inflate the tire, wait 15-20 minutes for the plug seal to cure and be on your way…
Please note… none of the above repair methods should be considered more than a temporary fix! At the first opportunity, the tire should be taken to a reputable tire shop for proper inspection and repair.
Temporary vs Permanent Tire Repairs!
Repairs done in the field only represent a temporary solution. A proper
involves removing the tire from the wheel and making a thorough inspection for damage and debris which otherwise may not be seen.
This involves cleaning the puncture path and placing a patch on the inner tire liner, combined with a plug that extends completely through the puncture path for a tight seal.
The plug/patch combo keeps moisture away from the steel or nylon belts to prevent deterioration and rusting that could cause the tire to eventually weaken and fail.
Tire Repair Tools and Kits
Safety Seal is the best plug repair kits I’ve seen for off road tire repair. Their proprietary manufacturing process produces the finest patching materials, good directions and is easy to use. The kit comes in a sturdy package too!
North Shore Laboratories
Dept. ORN 40-44 Endicott Street
P.O. Box 568 Peabody, MA 01960
Phone 1.800.888.9021 or 1.978.531.3044
Manufacture a line of tire changing tools and tire repair products. Notably their tire changing tools (Tyrepliers) are quite simple to use and compact enough to carry on off road excursions.
Offered by SOPUS Products is a tire repair solution in a can that most anyone can use in an emergency. Although messy and a temporary fix, it can get you out of a bind and back on the trail.
Interesting tire related Links on this site!
Off Road Tire
Off Road Wheels
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