Most home-based DIY techs hate dealing with tire problems. For all the tools and equipment they might have, seldom are tire changers and balancers found in their garages. As a result, these shade-tree technicians often resort to repair methods that don’t always provide a safe and lasting result.

Rope seals are for dopes

The rope seal method for puncture repairs isn’t recommended for any tire that you will drive on a public road with. These small lengths of braided cord coated with sealant can’t be installed in a small puncture until the hole is enlarged with a circular rasp file. If you’ve ever used one, that grinding noise you hear when plunging the rasp in and out are the cords of the tire being cut with each push and pull. These plugs may stop air from leaking out, but they leave a weak area that can bulge and fail without warning. If the puncture is small enough and in the face of the tread (not near the edge), a patch plug can be applied from the inside. Good tire techs will take the time to treat the inner surface around the hole to ensure a solid bond that will reduce the chances of any related failures.

Too much tire lube can ruin a wheel’s balance

If you have the chance, watch how your tire tech mounts your tires on your rims. If they apply a generous amount of soapy liquid tire lube, be careful to avoid panic braking on the way home. The lube is required to get the tire on the rim without damaging either, but too much can allow the tire to slip around the rim under heavy braking or acceleration. Shift the rubber too far and you can throw off the wheel balance, leading to a vibration and a return to the shop. Many tire shops have switched to a thick paste to avoid this problem.

Bulges mean impact

corner wrench: stop cutting corners when you spot tire trouble

Delaminated tire bulging due to impact. Photo by Getty

Sidewall bulges don’t appear on their own. Seldom the result of a tire manufacturing defect, bulges are often caused by sidewall impacts such as hitting a curb. When the force is strong enough, the sidewall’s reinforcement cords get damaged causing the bulge. Replacement is the only cure. If you’ve got a tire with multiple bulges around the rim, it usually means that someone drove on the tire when it was low or flat. Just a few rotations of the wheel under a vehicle’s weight can be all it takes to ruin a tire flattened tire. If you come out to a flat when getting ready to head out and you have to move the vehicle to a better spot to jack it up, inflate the tire first.

Torque it or lose it

Unless you have a proper torque wrench in your home toolbox, make sure to heed the tire shop’s request to return after 100 kilometres of driving to get the wheel nuts re-torqued. People lose wheels every tire-swap season because they didn’t follow this recommendation, sending their own vehicles out of control and a spinning projectile careening into traffic — too often with fatal results.

Brian Turner

Brian Turner is still kicking and doing his best to put over 4 decades of frontline parts and service experience to work helping you understand not only how your vehicle works, but how to get the best deals when getting it repaired or maintained. He started with us at the Ottawa Citizen and hasn’t looked back. He survived rooming with David Booth during his university days and we all admire him for that.

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