Dealing with a flat tire on your vehicle is often as simple as changing the tire, but if you have a compact spare tire on your car, you need to get the original fixed. Taking the tire to a tire repair shop and having them check it for damage is the first step in getting your tire fixed and back on your car.
Determining The Damage
The first step in repairing the tire that was on your car is for the tire repair shop to inspect the tire for damage. If there is no obvious damage, the tire tech will look for a nail or screw that may have punctured the tire and caused the flat. The tire repair can be different for small punctures than if it has more severe damage. If the tech does not find a hole in the tire, they may need to put the tire in a tank of water and visually inspect the tire for air bubbles coming out of the tire. Once the tire repair tech has located the hole in the tire, they will mark the tire so that they can find the leak after the tire is out of the water tank. For small leaks in the tread of the tire, the tech can often put a plug into the hole that will seal the leak, and when done correctly, the plug will last for the life of the tire.
Plugging the Tire
Plugging the tire is not difficult, but the hole must be in the tire's tread for a plug to be an option. If the damage is to the sidewall, the tire repair shop will recommend that you replace the tire with a new one. Your tires' sidewalls use fewer layers of rubber and are not strong enough to support the plug securely. For a tire with a hole in the tread, the tire repair tech will use a tool balled a reamer to clean the hole and rough up the rubber to have a better grip on the rubber plug. The plug is then forced into the hole with another tool, and once the plug is in place, the tool is pulled back, leaving just the plug in the hole. Once the plug is in, the remaining plug that is sticking out of the tread can be trimmed off or left in place to wear off as you drive. Some tire repair shops will also add a patch inside the tire to reinforce the area, but that can depend on the location of the plug and the size of the repair.