Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sidewall puncture is conditionally repairable...

For so many years I embraced a belief that sidewall puncture is NOT repairable or very unlikely repairable. The reason is simple, unlike the tread area that consists of cap piles and steel belts, sidewall on the other hand is mainly vulcanized rubber with hard rubber apex and synthetic inner liner layered on it. So sidewall is relatively weaker compared to tread area, hence such defects either big or small may lead to sudden blowout and may also lead to other major failures. So I can understand why weren't so many Auto-Tyre personnel willing enough to take the risk or attempt sidewall repair when the general build in design of the sidewall was fairly understood.

General rules of for tyre repair

I'm just an ordinary user and as we know money doesn't come the way leaves fall from a tree. So when it comes to sidewall puncture, which happened twice in my to date experience, a right decision have to be made either to scrap it off and replace with a new one, or take the risk and save some money. In both of my cases, I was quite fortunate since it happened to my very brand new tyre (less than 10 days old), therefore I took the later option.

I was quite surprised seeing a 3 inches nail pierced firmly in the sidewall of my left rear tyre, which I only realized after traveling 320 km away from Pahang. Ironically the 110-120 km/h speed I drove on the highway that supposed to be unsafe for sidewall defects, turned out to be a safe one. Allah is great! I quickly drove my car to Auto-Tyre Garage and get it fix right away. As expected, the tyre personnel was reluctant at the beginning and has recommended me for a new tyre replacement. After noticing the tyre was kind of brand new, only then he attempted to repair.

My Michelin 175/65 R14 after months of sidewall puncture repair

Close up view of the puncture sealant - pretty ugly, eh?

Alhamdulellah, now almost 14 months have passed and my affected Michelin tyre still looks good like the rest three. I'm not sure whether this was the coolest decision I've made so far out of my driving experience. As far as safety is concerned I'm sure Michelin would have discourage me from the very beginning. Sometimes we just have to trust our basic instinct but of course don't do something stupid. I will definitely scrap my tyre off if the sidewall puncture involves bead tearing or cracking. For my case I didn't observe any tearing or deformation around the nail puncture and the tyre didn't go flat prior to repair. InshaAllah it's going to be fine as far as I don't drive the way Paris-Dakar rally driver does. Considering a bit of knowledge I gained from this experience, I think it worth more than 100 new tyres… huhu.

Those out there who have limited budget and want to save some money over a new tyre, hear my say. I'm not a tyre expert, I'll never be one. I'm just sharing my experience (twice so far) to prove that sidewall puncture is repairable, perhaps I should rephrase that one… CONDITIONALLY repairable. So please justify before attempting such repair.



I believe it was indeed the long mileage that was put on the tire directly after the tire repair. The heat from the road friction created a vulcanizing effect on the plug repair and literally welded the tire and plug together. Another option may have been to use a vulcanizing patch on the inside, which is something that is rarely performed these days.

I haven't been to the tire repair business for 25 years, except as a consumer, and I'm assuming that not a whole lot has changed in the road rubber industry. But the sidewalls can be repaired if the puncture is close to perpendicular to the sidewall. If the impaling object penetrates at too much of an angle to the sidewall too much damage is possible and repair is not recommended.

Izat Ezwan said...

Thank you so much Richard for your fruitful comment.