New-tire makers and major repair material manufacturers are constantly striving to improve their products through advanced technology and manufacturing methods. Yet all of this technology can be wasted at the other end by the tire dealer or repair shop. The problem lies with the influx of cheap, inferior repair methods that periodically make their way into the market. If a tire puncture is not repaired correctly, it could result in further tire failure.
We cannot challenge the fact that even when the best repair materials are used, unless the repair is made with adequate examination and preparation, as well as high standards of cleanliness, the repair most likely will fail.
When the tubeless tire came on the market in the 1950s, attention was diverted from the repair of tubes to the repair of tubeless tires, and a host of different repair methods quickly found their way onto the market.
The tire manufacturers often recommended the use of rubber plugs, which were pushed into the tire from the outside using a needle. As the long-mileage radial tire grew in popularity, and with concerns for motoring safety, the use of straight rubber plugs fell into disrepute. Even so, such products still crop up in the market from time to time.
Concerns for motoring safety and the need to set standards for tire repairing led to the adoption in the United Kingdom of the British Standards for Tire Repairs in 1979, which have been updated several times since.
These standards exclude all repairs made from the outside of the tire, that is without removing the tire from its wheel. An exception is that a temporary, ``get you home'' repair may be made by using materials colored other than black for ease of identification. Such repairs are subject to a 100-mile distance limit and a top speed of 40 mph. Neither plugs externally applied to fitted tires nor liquid sealants are recognized as acceptable repair methods.
These standards, which are strictly enforced, have led to the treatment of repairing as the specialized business it should be, rather than a hole-in-the-wall or ``do-it-yourself'' activity undertaken by inexperienced people.
In contrast to these very detailed standards, there are no repair standards whatsoever in the U.S. It looks like anything goes.
During a lifelong career in the tire business, I have examined thousands of tire failures, the vast majority of which were caused by improper, shoddy repair methods. Isn't it time we got on the ball?
The first step in repairing anything is knowing what to fix. The tire must come off the wheel for inspection.
Since you don't know you have trouble until the tire goes flat, how can you know what damage may have occurred to the inside of a tire unless you take it off the wheel?
No one should be allowed to repair any tire by shooting a plug or string into the puncture from the outside without first checking the inside of the tire. The plug is not what holds the air in the tire. The plug fills the hole. The repair patch holds the air.
A proper puncture repair is certainly not a ``do-it-yourself'' activity. The work should only be carried out by trained people to ensure motoring safety.
It's a pretty well-known fact that the average motorist hasn't got the faintest idea about what's inside a tire. Our industry has had enough problems with poorly trained repair people, so it is foolhardy to encourage the average motorist to repair his own punctures.
We are engaged in an industry where there has been in the past, and still is, insufficient training in tire technology and especially in tire repairing. To most outsiders that would be inconceivable when people's lives are at stake.
The risks arising from tire repairs increases with the severity of service. The repairer should, therefore, take into account not just the damage caused by the penetrating object, but also the future use of the tire.
Keep in mind that a car traveling 55 mph is moving about 80 feet per second, and it takes quite a few seconds before the car can be brought to a halt.
It is wise to remember that those people making a repair must take full responsibility for the examination and work carried out on the tire.
It also should be remembered that no tire manufacturer recommends the use of string, rubber bands, putty, sealants, plugs or any outside-in repair. These materials are only temporary at best, as they provide for no inspection of the tire interior.
As an aside, the gradually diminishing number of full-service gasoline stations is creating a void in the number of tire repair shops available to the motoring public. This translates into greater dependence on the tire dealer for quality work and, at the same time, it opens up a greater potential market for him.
Many tire specialists are unaware of the potential profits in puncture repairs.
The proper repairing of expensive, high quality radial casings also would prevent millions of tires from ending up in scrap piles.