Tyre puncture is among the most problematic driving incidents. What do you do when you get a flat tyre while on the road? If you can’t safely make it to a garage, you have to rely on what your vehicle is equipped with. Traditionally, this has involved relying on the spare wheel but, nowadays, this isn’t always the case.
More and more often, car and delivery truck manufacturers replace spare wheels with puncture repair kits. They do it for a variety of practical reasons, especially to decrease the total weight of a vehicle.
Similarly, owners of cars equipped with LPG systems often look for alternatives to a spare tyre, also leading them to invest in a car puncture repair kit. This is because the LPG tank replaces the spare tyre, so the need for a smaller solution prevails.
What’s in a car puncture repair kit?
More recently, over the last couple of years, car shops and manufacturers have been offering tyre spray sealers as part of a tyre puncture repair kit, including a sealing agent and a compressor. The compressor kits and spray seals are both moderately effective and both will allow you to drive at reduced speeds - this means there is enough support to reach the nearest tyre repair shop or your home.
You should bear in mind, however, that a tyre repaired using such a kit or spray may not be suitable for a full repair and many tyre shops, consequently, will refuse to do it. In the event of an unsuccessful or unavailable tyre repair, your best option is to buy two new car tyres.
Why two tyres? This is because both tyres on an axle should have the same type and tread depth. Ideally, you would get all four tyres replaced, especially for 4 wheel drive cars and vehicles equipped with ESP systems.
Tyre repair sprays versus full puncture repair kits
It is worth knowing the difference between repair sprays and a full kit. It basically comes down to the effectiveness. Tyre repair sprays are only capable of repairing very small instances of damage such as slow punctures. When getting a slow puncture repair kit, you will probably get a bottle of sealant designed for quick temporary fixes. Furthermore, sprays may sometimes fail in low temperatures. In any case, they just offer a short-term solution.
Car puncture repair kits, on the other hand, consist of a sealing agent and a compressor (air pump), which are much more recommended. There are, however, huge differences in their efficiency, depending on which kit or manufacturer you choose to use.
How to choose the right tyre repair kit
In an ADAC study, five kits were rated as good, while two were sufficient and three were rated as insufficient. The winner was Premium Seal Repair which contains a micro-phase sealant able to repair larger punctures. It also has a concise manual and can be disposed of in a normal manner after use.
However, the compressor turned out to be too weak and the testers complained about the inaccurate manometer readings. Because of this variance, consider reading a car tyre puncture repair kit review or two about any given product you are interested in, to ensure it is right for you and your car. Also remember that it may be worth spending a few pounds more on your kit as the poor quality ones are normally more likely to have faults like this.
All puncture repair kits, of course, allow for further driving to a limited degree and limited distance. This is usually enough to get you home or to a garage. Ultimately, puncture repair kits only offer a temporary solution and, likewise, they cannot repair larger instances of damage, tread faults or any defects in the sidewall or valve stem.
How to repair a car tyre puncture using a car tyre repair kit
If, while driving, you feel you have a flat tyre, stop your car in a safe place and locate the source of the problem. Don’t try using a repair kit if the rim has been affected or if you see serious tyre damage such as sharp objects stuck in your tyre, big cracks, exposed belts or broken plies.
If the problem can be fixed with a car tyre repair kit, place the wheel in such a way that the damaged part is up on the top.
How to use a puncture repair kit
First, attach the sealant bottle to the valve and then attach the compressor to the other side of the sealant bottle. Then plug the compressor’s cord to your car’s socket. Start the engine (or turn the “ready” mode on if you have a hybrid car), switch on the compressor and wait until the tyre gets inflated to the desired pressure. Finally, place one sticker on the tyre to mark it as sealed and another sticker in an easily visible place, e.g. inside the car, to remind you that the tyre should be replaced soon.
The effectiveness of spare tyre alternatives
Ultimately, neither spray seals nor repair kits can fully replace a spare tyre, or even a limited use tyre. And that isn’t totally compensated by a lower fuel consumption rate (which comes as a result of the lower weight of a car) or by additional space in the trunk.
If you are concerned about the risk of getting a punctured tyre, run flat tyres may be a great solution for you. These tyres are constructed in a different way, a way that enables you to drive up to 93 miles (150 km) at speeds of up to 49 miles per hour (80 km/h) even with no tyre pressure.
To avoid any damage to your tyres, ADAC recommends using tyre pressure control systems. These allow you to notice any damage right away, often before a breakdown occurs.
Nothing will replace a spare tyre but, if you no longer have space for one, seal kits or tyre spray products are the alternatives. Sprays are cheap but often ineffective, while puncture repair kits are normally much pricier, but more effective. Some kits are also reusable, so long as you pay for the refills, while others are designed to be disposable.
This is, of course, your choice as a driver. Yet it is one that you should always consider so that, when you do have a punctured tyre on the road, you have the best tools and supplies for the challenge.