Are Tyre Plugs Safe?Depends who you ask the answers are different - Here is what we think
With spring coming up many of our customers are taking out their scooters again to enjoy the sunnier, warmer days. Logically, we always notice an increase in tyre punctures during this time of the year and our tyre fitting machine gets busy.
Most often punctures are caused by objects that fell off a truck over winter, ready to be “collected” by a scooter or motorcycle – especially the smaller 50cc ones riding more on the side of the road where all that stuff lands are great picking up things.
Any tyre with a puncture usually lets to more or less immediate deflation and with that your safety can be compromised immediately and you might not get home on your vehicle. Having a tyre repair kit with you can bring you out of trouble if you run tubeless tyres (as most scooters do). With a repair kit you can repair a puncture on the side of the road without having to remove the wheel and the tyre. It can get you going again but there are a few questions we always come across:
- When can I repair a tyre at all?
- Is a puncture repaired tyre safe to ride with?
- Can a puncture repair be permanent?
The answer to all three questions above depends on who you ask really. Depending on manufacturer of tyres and the countless repair kits out there, the answer might be different. In general, we think the answer to this question should not be made based on costs for a new tyre but on safety alone. After all the tyres you run on your vehicle are the only thing that connects you to the road and this should not be taken lightly. Faulty, not fit for purpose tyres could cause much more damage to vehicle and injury to the rider.
Nevertheless, a tyre is a very dynamic component, taking up a lot of load when riding, flexing & compressing with changing load all the time. A tyre is also exposed to significantly changing temperatures caused by exterior surface temperature but also internal friction.
When repairing tyre punctures there are a few rules to consider:
- A puncture can only be repaired if it sits near the centre (crown) of the tyre. Any plug that is installed towards the side of the tyre will be exposed to much greater mechanical forces and therefore come loose very soon, causing the same problem again
- A puncture can only be repaired if it is of small round size. Cuts, tears and oblong punctures to a tyre can’t be repaired
- There must be a good amount of tread left on the tyre to allow a puncture repair plug to hold
- And finally a plug needs to be installed professionally to hold. For this, the tyre needs to be removed, cleaned and the plug installed from the inside
So if the above factors all are ok, a professionally repaired puncture can hold permanent or at least for a long time. However, it is sometimes still a tough call if a tyre should be replaced or repaired. We recommend using plugs only for emergency purpose given the importance of a tyre related to the relatively low costs involved. For properly repairing a tyre, the wheel & tyre needs to be removed anyway. And then especially if the tyre is not very expensive, it is hard to justify not just putting on a new tyre and be 100% safe. This case might look different if you run a motorcycle where a tyre easily could cost $400 and more.
For customers who experience a puncture and can’t make their way home we offer a pick-up service of their vehicle which might be the safer option than trying to repair a tyre on the side of the road. Save our phone number 08 9300 1719 and call us in case you get stuck. If you do repair your own tyre, make sure you are doing this on a firm ground and in a safe place, especially if it is an emergency repair on the side of the road.