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How Long Does It Take To Fix A Flat?
A flat tire can happen at any time and it’s important to know how long it takes to fix one so you can plan accordingly.
Let's look at some of the factors that affect how long it takes to fix a flat tire and provide some tips for a speedy repair.
- Location you got the flat in - If you are in a remote location with no cell signal, it may take longer to get help.
- The severity of the flat tire- If the puncture is small, it may take less time to repair than if the puncture is large.
- The experience level of the person repairing it - An experienced mechanic will be able to fix your flat tire quicker than a mechanic just starting out.
- The tools available - If you have all the necessary tools, such as a spare tire, jack, and lug wrench, the repair will be quicker than if you have to go buy or borrow them.
- The weather conditions - If it's raining or snowing, it may take longer to fix a flat tire as the wet conditions can make the repair process more difficult.
The time it takes to fix a flat tire car varies, but in general, it should take around 15-30 minutes to replace a tire with a spare. However, this time can increase if the tire is difficult to remove, the spare tire is hard to access, or there are other issues with the vehicle that need to be addressed.
If you're using a tire repair kit to fix a puncture, it may take longer as you'll need to locate the puncture, remove the object causing the puncture, and then apply the repair solution. Depending on the type of repair kit you have, this process can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.
If you take your vehicle to a repair shop, tire repairs at the shop usually take no longer than 30 minutes. The tire shop will use tire patches, a radial patch, a patch plug, or a plug. After they repair the tire puncture, they will fill the tire pressure.
Flat tires to professionals at auto repair shops are like flipping burgers. It’s the most common type of job that comes into a shop. The smallest shop I worked at had at least two flat repairs a day.
With a plug repair, you don’t even have to take the wheel off the car. If the tire is a rear tire, it’s exposed in a way that you can just spin the tire around while it's still on the car and plunge the plug into the puncture hole. This saves every one time.
If the shop uses patches or plugs, you have to take the wheel off the car and dismount the tire. You then have to buff up the tire area on the inside and apply different types of adhesives to get the tire patch to stick to the inside of the tire.
This process can be lengthy and cumbersome, yet can still be done relatively quickly. With a patch plug, you're looking at 15 minutes. This is the time it takes the mechanic to do the job. If the mechanic has to find where the air pressure is leaking from, this can also add some time, as finding the puncture location is not as easy as it sounds.
Sometimes, mechanics have to put the tire in what is called a dunk tank, in order to find the location of the leak. Sometimes, customers come in saying “I have a tire leak”, but they don’t know which tire the leak is coming from.
This requires the mechanic to take one tire off at a time and dunk it into the dunk tank to find the location of the tire puncture. If you have a leak, and don’t know where it’s coming from, give the mechanic up to an hour to find the location of the leak.
Fixing A Flat Yourself
Fixing a flat yourself is always a viable option if you have the right tools. Using the plug method doesn’t even require you to remove the lug nuts. Most tires get punctured in the tread area. So all you have to do is locate the puncture wound yourself.
If you are having a difficult time finding the leak, take a spray bottle full of soapy water and spray the tire down. Any leaks will start to bubble up with the soap. Once you have located the leak, remove the sharp object like you are a surgeon with some needle nose pliers.
Take the reaming tool out of the plug kit and start plunging the reamer into the hole as hard as you can, and take it out halfway. Repeat this process 15 times. It cleans up the puncture hole and makes it nice and smooth.
Next, set up your plug kit as per the directions on the back of the kit and plunge the plug into the tire wound as hard and deep as you can. Once you cannot go any deeper, quickly pull the plunger out. This will leave some remaining plug left over, sticking out of the tire.
Take some cutting tool, like a razor blade, and remove the excess plug. Your tire should be officially plugged. Now set the tire pressure and you should be in good working order. Recheck that the plug is holding air by spraying it with soapy water. If there are no bubbles coming from the plug, the plug is good, and you're good to drive!
If there are bubbles, you should try to add another plug on top of the current plug. The width of two plugs is more likely to hold air pressure than one for some wounds. And if two plugs doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to take it to a shop and have a mechanic dismount the tire and use a patch or a patch plug, as this method is fail proof for most punctures and tire wounds.
About The Author
Christopher Sparks has been servicing vehicles since 2012. After completing the automotive studies program at Camden County College, he was awarded an Associates's Degree in Applied Science. His first job was a lube-tech at Jiffy Lube, and is currently an independent B-Technician servicing vehicles for the United States Postal Service. Christopher is ASE certified and loves rebuilding engines.Read more about Christopher Sparks