No one wants a flat tire. But the unfortunate truth is they happen to all of us. Sometimes, it’s without any warning, and you’re going to want to be prepared just in case.
The good news is it’s actually relatively fast, cheap, easy to fix your flat — even without a spare. Read below for 8 easy steps to repairing your flat.
You can fix a punctured flat with a few small tools. Most tire kits will have the necessary equipment. Remove the wheel, locate the hole, and seal a tire plug into the puncture. After refilling with air, place the wheel back on, and you’re good to go.
Why Not Use a Spare?
Safety. Spares aren’t in it for the long haul, and many new models don’t even include them. They’re designed for a slow trip to the tire shop and not much more.
However, you learn how to fix a flat tire and avoid using a spare altogether if you have the right tools and know-how.
What Tools Do You Need?
Making sure you have these tools if you want to fix a flat tire quickly:
- T-handle insert/reamer
- Tire plugs
- Rubber cement/sealant
- Tire inflator
- Tire gauge
These necessary tools won’t cost much and are cheaper than getting towed. Additionally, they’re light and can hang in the trunk.
Steps to Fix a Flat Tire
Pay close attention to the instructions, and you’ll know how to fix a flat tire in no time.
1. Find the Hole/Puncture
After pulling over to a safe spot, it’s time to find what caused your flat. Sometimes the problem is spotted immediately.
If you don’t see any foreign object wedged in right away, try rolling your car forward a foot or so. Do this until you expose the issue for reference later.
2. Remove the Wheel
Loosen the lug nuts (lefty loosely!) before jacking up your vehicle. Follow the instructions in your owner’s manual to use the jack properly.
Remove the lug nuts once the wheel is off the ground. Stow them somewhere safe. Carefully pull the wheel towards you to remove it.
For safety: Take out your spare and set it under your vehicle’s frame (in front or behind the rear tire). If your car falls off the jack, it’ll fall onto the spare, posing less risk to your and your vehicle.
3. Examine the Puncture
If the hole’s in the sidewall, time to stop. Mount your spare, and get the flat replaced ASAP. But if it’s in the tread, it’s an easy fix. Roll the tire to your tools and make sure you’re away from traffic.
Evaluate your tire, searching for any additional foreign objects or holes. If it’s small, mark it for reference later.
4. Remove Any Problems
Remove the problem with your needle-nose pliers.
A few things can make a hole, and not all of them are as clean as removing a screw. For example, a tree branch may leave additional residue behind. You’ll want to clear away things like that before proceeding.
5. Make the Puncture Bigger
You can go to the next step if the hole is bigger than a pencil. Otherwise, take your T-handle and make the hole about the size of a pencil. Apply downward pressure and slowly screw into the tread. If it’s a little larger, push the tool up to the handle and pull it out.
Do this until you can insert and remove the T-handle with minimal effort.
6. Install Your Plug
You’ll need to thread your plug through the T-handle’s center. To ease this process, flatten on end with your needle-nose pliers.
If you have lubricant, apply this to the tire plug before insertion. This will make installation easier and promote a better seal.
Place the T-handle on top of the hole and push it through until about ½” of the plug is visible.
Yank the tool straight out. Do this as hard and fast as you can. The plug should remain in your car’s tire. You can cut away excess material with a razor or box cutter.
Add a little sealant to make sure it holds. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to try again.
7. Inflate the Tire
Pump air back into the tire. Use your tire air gauge to ensure the tire is at your car manual’s recommended air pressure. If you have never done this before, consider checking our guides: How To Put Air In Tires or How To Put Air In Tires At Gas Station.
8. Install the Wheel
Install the wheel’s lug nuts to secure it to the wheel hub. After lowering your car and putting away the jack, make sure the lug nuts are as tight as possible. Tighten (righty-tighty) in a star pattern.
Fixing a flat will get you further than slapping on a spare. With just a few tools, typically found in a tire kit, you can travel short distances at moderate speeds safely.
Now you know how to fix a flat tire! The fix isn’t permanent, but it’ll give you the time you need before full tire replacement.
Did you find this article helpful? Then consider checking:
How Far Can I Drive With A Flat Tire