As any car-owner would knows, tires are the lifeline of a car. If they are damaged during a trip, it is essential to repair or replace them immediately, or else you run the risk of road accidents.
But the age-old question then appears: is it better to replace a tire, or just repair it? The answer depends entirely on the extent of the damage on the tire.
If so, attempting to patch that tire should not be too difficult. But if it is a considerable amount of damage, you should replace it. But rest assured, this article will help you find the cheapest way to patch a tire rather than replacing it and also tell you how much does it cost to patch a tire.
Assess the Size of the Damage
Before determining how much it would cost to patch a tire, check how damaged the tire is first. The rule of the thumb is that if a tear is longer than 16 inches, it is best to replace the tire entirely. Big cuts or thread separation are also permanent cases of tire damages that a patchwork cannot fix.
For these cases, opt for a replacement over repair. But in other cases, patching tires can still work. However, it is still important to detect the damage first.
Locate the Damaged Spot
If you are unable to see any nails or spikes stuck to the tire walls, yet hear air escaping from it, you probably have a small puncture that is hard to spot with naked eyes.
It is even harder to notice punctures if the tire has been through muddy or dusty roads.
Wash Your Tires
Determine the unseen holes by washing the tire. Use normal soap water while washing it, but make sure to spray the water across the tire walls, or possible areas you suspect it might have been damaged. If you notice bubbles forming in a particular area, that is where the puncture most probably is.
Listen for Significant Pressure Loss
Other ways to spot damages that are hard to see are by either listening for a hissing sound, caused by the escape of air from the tire, or feel the tire with your foot to see if it feels lighter.
Escape of air is the most common cause of a tire puncture, and if you are attempting to patch the tire, that is the main thing you would want to avoid.
How Much Will It Cost To Patch A Tire?
Generally, to fix the sidewalls of the tire, you would need at least $20.
The sidewalls are the areas that are affected the most in case of unseen damages and would cost more to fix if the damage is too severe. It is recommended for everyday car-users to just replace the tire if there is a tear on the tire sidewalls. And it is not only safer for the car, but for your own wellbeing as well.
Imbalance of air pressure between the tires can easily cause a car to wobble and malfunction, leading to unfortunate scenarios while driving.
It must be kept in mind that the sidewalls add to the overall structural rigidity of the tire, so it must not be underestimated when attempting a patch. Sidewall repairs usually cost more because it is not only the outer sidewalls that get damaged but the inner sidewalls as well.
So there is a lot of additional patching involved, which can even reach $30 on average. Be especially aware that in some places, sidewall tire repairs are not legally allowed, so be careful in the regulations that you follow.
To be on the safe side, just replace the tire entirely if you find a big enough tear on the sidewalls.
Is It Better to Replace a Tire?
A lot of people opt to fix tire damages by themselves instead of replacing the tire.
While that is understandable since a tire replacement can cost a whole lot more, usually from $80 to $200 range, it is once again recommended for general car-owners to choose tire replacement over general tire repair.
Nonetheless, for extensive tire damage, consult a professional anyway.
Gather the Necessary Tools
Experienced car-owners who are handy with power tools prefer fixing tires on their own, and they normally use air die grinders, compressed air sprays, and vulcanizing cement to get a patchwork done at home.
Access to such tools is a bit hard if you do not know where to look from, but generally, their costs range from $20 to $80. 25 ml of vulcanizing cement glue can go for $10. While toolkits containing air-die grinder and polishing equipment can be found for $50 or even less.
Regardless, such tools are difficult to use for a complete beginner and generally not recommended unless you are confident with home tire repairs. It is a safer bet to just go for $20-$30, paying a mechanic for a more reliable tire fix.
Repair vs. Replacement
Lastly, when considering how much does it cost to patch a tire, you should be aware of the implications of choosing tire repair over tire replacement.
- Fast Repair
The sealants that are used to fix punctured tires are definitely not meant to be permanent solutions. Emergency inflators, which are also used to repair damaged tires, are exactly for what they are named after emergencies.
These will not hold up in the long run. It also is kept in mind that tire patches are almost always recommended for the center of the tread area.
Damage to the center area is not recommended to be fixed with a patch, and as discussed above, the sidewall repair is not always a reliable thing to do too.
Nonetheless, it does not cost much to patch a tire, so in cases of light tire damages, go for this relatively cheaper solution.
Learn to Patch Your Damaged Tires in a Pinch!
You might find it convenient to fix tires in a jiffy instead of busting out a spare tire every time your tire gets scratched or bumped.
It is always recommended for car owners to carry an extra tire in cases of emergencies.
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