Off-roading through the Australian bush is an exhilarating experience. There’s a sense of freedom and pride in being isolated, however it’s vital that you come prepared. Anything can happen when roaming through the scrub, none of which are more common than getting a punctured tyre. You could always change your punctured tyre with the spare, but there’s always a chance that another tyre can go flat and then you’dhave two damaged tyres.
Instead of changing your tyres, the quickest and easiest way to get you back on the road less travelled is to plug your tyre using a tyre repair kit and air compressor. Almost all modern 4WD’s these days have tubeless tyres, so if you get a puncture through the tread then you can plug it with a self-vulcanising repair cord. Keep in mind that this method is not intended to permanently repair your tyre – you should get it repaired as soon as possible by a professional. A repair cord will allow you to continue driving at reduced speeds which will buy you time until you can get the tyre repaired.
If you’ve never used a tyre repair kit before, today we’ll be discussing the process in more detail including each of the steps and other tips and tricks. For your information, tyre repair kits generally include the following:
- At least 10 repair cords
- Auger tool
- Insertion tool
- Pointy nose pliers
- Replacement valves
While you can easily feel when a tyre is punctured when driving on bitumen, it can be much more difficult when you’re driving off the road. This is why we advise equipping your vehicle with a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) to alert you when any tyre’s pressure falls below a specific psi. If you don’t have one, then you’ll probably hear air escaping the tyre before you feel the effects on your driving. In any case, hopefully you catch the puncture early and your tyre can still be used.
You’ll need to find the location of the puncture on your tyre which can sometimes be tricky if it’s not readily visible. Listen to any air escaping from the tyre and add some water which will help you pinpoint the exact location. If you can’t hear any air, move your vehicle slightly forward as it may be on the bottom of your tyre. Once found, you’ll be able to decide whether or not you need to remove the tyre from your vehicle to make the repair.
If a sharp object caused the puncture, remove the object with a pair of pliers and try to insert a plug. To do this, you’ll need to insert a plug into the eye of the insertion tool, apply some lube, then push the insertion tool into the hole. Most of the time you’ll need to apply a decent amount of force to make it fit. If it doesn’t, then you’ll need to make the hole bigger using the auger tool.
Be careful not to make the hole too big though, and never use the auger on a shoulder or sidewall puncture. Once the hole is big enough to fit the plug, insert the plug until the two ends are projecting about a centimetre from the tyre. Slide the insertion tool collar against the tyre and remove the tool while the plug remains intact.
Once you’ve removed the insertion tool, use water to check that the plug was successful and no more air is escaping from the puncture. It’s also a sensible idea to check for other punctures just in case you missed them. It’s common for more than one plug to be needed on a single tyre (I’ve seen about 8 before!). Once you’re certain there are no more leaks in the tyre, use an air compressor to inflate your tyre to the appropriate psi. If you removed the wheel before plugging the tyre, then you can now refit the wheel to your vehicle and continue on your journey!
Once you’re back on track, you’ll want to check the tyre pressure about 10 minutes after driving, and again the following morning. Don’t forget that this isn’t a permanent fix and there may be internal damage to your sidewall, so you should get your tyre repaired as soon as possible by a professional.
Being adequately prepared is paramount when travelling by yourself in the bush which is why we recommend youinvest in a tyre repair kit to get you back on the road quickly and efficiently. If you’re interested in purchasing a tyre repair kit for your 4WD, get in touch with the off-roading specialists at TJM Australia by phoning 07 3865 9999.