Not everybody comes prepared with a spare tire packed away in the trunk. If this is you, we have another solution. Learn how to fix a flat without a spare here.
The best way to fix your flat without a spare is with a tire repair kit. These DIY methods will only provide temporary mobility, and tires should be repaired or replaced permanently as soon as possible. The tire repair kit is the most reliable repair solution for you.
If you arent familiar with tire repairs, we are here to tell you it is not as difficult as it may seem. These repair options are low-cost and can be mastered quickly by any driver. However, as more and more vehicles eliminate the spare tire, It is best to learn now and be prepared for any emergencies in the future.
Tire repair comes down to a science based on PSI levels, types of damage, and available repair solutions. Our team has researched a comprehensive list of options for you to consider so you are well prepared. Fixing a flat has never been easier with the broad access to different products on the market.
Best Methods to Fix a Flat Tire
Before you attempt to fix your tire, there are a few things to remember. First, you should always make sure your vehicle is in a safe location. Avoid staying too close to the main roads, especially in the dark. Instead, pull as far off the road as you can get.
You should always park your vehicle on an even surface too. Parking on hills or uneven roads makes it difficult to take your tire off your car, even if it is only a slight incline or decline. Here are the three most effective methods to fix a flat tire.
Tire Repair Kit
If your vehicle has been purchased in the past five years, it is almost guaranteed that it comes equipped with a tire repair kit in the trunk. We recommend all drivers spend some time going through their kits to get familiar with all of the tools and make sure nothing is missing.
Tire repair kits are effective, but holes or punctures on the tire’s sidewall cannot be patched with this kit. If this occurs, you need to replace the tire.
How it Works
1. Locate the hole or puncture on the tire.
Finding the hole is the first step towards repair. Next, you can spray soapy water on the tire to see where it bubbles. This indicates the exact place the air is leaking.
2. Use the vehicle jack to remove the tire from your vehicle.
The vehicle jack will lift your car off the ground and make it easier to remove the tire properly. Never crawl under your vehicle if you are only using the hand jack.
After you lift the vehicle, remove the tire lugs with your wrench. Be sure to put these in a secure place because you will need them again later.
You also need to remove the valve stem core to allow the tire to deflate. By deflating the tire, you will enable the plug to patch the hole compared to a fully inflated tire quickly.
3. Remove the nail/screw from the tire with a necessary tool.
The most popular tire damages come from either a nail or a screw. You can use a screwdriver or a pair of pliers to remove them from the tire.
4. Ream the hole.
The reamer tool will open up the puncture in the tire so that the plug will fit. Simply insert the reamer into the hole, then twist and push.
5. Insert the plug or patch.
All tire repair kits come with contact cement, plugs, and a plug holder. Start by putting the plug into the plug holder first. Then, the contact cement is applied to the hole first to help correctly place the patch.
After using it, you can insert the plug into the hole. It requires some pressure but should fit firmly.
6. Inflate the tire.
Inflate the tire back to the ideal PSI level using a compressor you have on hand or a machine at a local gas station. Hand pumps work too.
7. Reinstall the tire.
Now you can remount the tire back onto your vehicle. This is when you will need those lugs again. After threading them back onto the tire securely, you are finished!
Fix-a-Flat or Similar Tire Sealant
Tire sealants are most popularly used as an aerosol spray with a foam substance that seals any punctures or holes while inflating your tire. The process is similar to filling your tire with air, except you use the aerosol can to get the job done instead.
Fix-a-Flat is not permanent. The manufacturers recommend driving on it for no longer than 100 miles or three days, whichever comes first. It is also weak in colder, near-freezing temperatures because it will freeze inside your tire and break the seal.
How it Works
The process to use Fix-a-Flat or another similar product is much more straightforward. The can is self-explanatory with directions for you to follow. The can has a nozzle attached that connects to the tire like an air pump and fills the tire to inflate and seal it.
Follow these instructions.
- Remove the valve stem cap.
- Connect the can’s nozzle to the tire.
- Fill up the tire with your sealant.
- Add more air to tires if necessary.
Other Repair Alternatives
Tire Puncture Kit
Tire puncture kits are a method geared towards more seasoned professionals with experience handling tire repairs. However, it requires more tools to accomplish. It probably isn’t something every driver is comfortable carrying in their vehicle but is highly effective in repairing your tire to last longer.
Tire puncture kits can patch holes or punctures on the tire well, but they cannot patch damages to the tire’s sidewall. This is a more complex situation that requires the total replacement of the tire.
How it Works
Tire puncture kits are very similar to tire repair kits. They use plugs and a t shaped tool to fill the tire punctures effectively. However, this specific kit carries more risk that could further damage the tire if you are inexperienced.
Follow these instructions to use your tire puncture kit correctly.
- Loosen and remove your tire with a jack.
- Remove the item that punctured the tire.
- Clean out the puncture.
- Use the tire plug tool.
- Insert the tire plug.
- Trim the edges of the plug.
- Inflate and install the tire.
How to Find the Leak in Your Tire
Soap and Water Trick
You can find the leak in your tire by creating a mixture of soap and water in a spray bottle. If you don’t have this on hand, any type of chemical spray can work like Windex.
Spray all of the tires or simply pour the mixture onto the tire. If done correctly, you will notice an area of the tire starting to bubble. This is the process of air leaking and meeting the soapy mixture. Once you see this, you have found your tire’s leak.
Submerge the Tire in Water
Another trick you can use is to submerge your tire underwater completely. Use something large enough to hold the entire tire like a container. Remember, the whole tire must be entirely underwater for this to work.
You will see air bubbles start to float to the surface. If you look closely into the water, you will see the exact spot these bubbles are coming from. And you have found your tire leak.
What’s the Best Way to Fix a Flat Tire Without a Spare?
It can seem overwhelming at first, especially in an emergency away from home. But fixing a tire without a flat is a simple process when you pack the right tools. We recommend having a car jack and a tire repair kit in your vehicle at all times.
The tire repair kit is the most effective solution to fix your flat tire. If you are uncomfortable using something like this, you should keep a can of Fix-a-Flat tire sealant in your vehicle too. This is the easiest solution to use for temporary road mobility. However, it doesn’t last nearly as long.
The most important thing to remember is all of these solutions are only temporary. It is best to get your tire fixed permanently as soon as possible after your incident occurs.
About THE AUTHOR
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding