Tire maintenance & safety

Tire repair: What is it & when is it better than buying a new tire?

If you're having minor issues with your tires, tire repair may be the best and least expensive solution. However, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), the national trade association for tire manufacturers, nearly 88% of all tire repairs are done improperly. Also, repairs are often made when the tire really should be replaced. Any time a tire is damaged or leaking, it's absolutely necessary to have it examined by an auto technician. They work closely with tire manufacturers and have the expertise to determine whether a tire should be repaired or replaced.

What Is Tire Repair?

Tire repair is any variety of tire solutions that salvage a tire after it becomes damaged or becomes flat. It's quite common for people to misdiagnose slow tire leaks as a problem with the tire, when it may actually be a much simpler issue that doesn't require full replacement, such as a problem with the valve stem. Tire repair is simple in such instances and can be dealt with quickly by any qualified tire technician.

More severe tire damage, such as punctures, will require the attention of a tire technician as well. These professionals are able to take tires that are minimally damaged, remove them from a wheel or rim and repair them to quality working order.

Tire repair becomes a problem when people choose it as a solution to all tire problems. When tires become unevenly worn or lack tread, they're no longer repairable. Owners of larger, heavy-duty tires might be able to take their tires to a specialist in order to have a process done known as regrooving or retreading. This isn't really an option for tires that are used on passenger vehicles and should be avoided at the risk of compromised safety on the road.

Tire Repair vs. New Tires

Tire repair is a smart solution for some tire issues. However, when tires become damaged, it's best to rely on the advice of a certified auto technician to find the best and safest solution. Additionally, it helps to know and understand the signs that tires need to be replaced, as opposed to getting them repaired. A good resource to help you identify whether a tire should be repaired or replaced is the RMA.

Replacing tires is something that will take place in the life of your vehicle if you drive it long enough. No tire is made to last forever, and regardless of its toughness, it won't be immune to roadway hazards or poor tire care. There are some obvious signs and symptoms that indicate the need to have your tires replaced, beginning with tread wear.

As tires experience normal wear and eventually become bald-whether in one spot or across the whole surface of the tire-it's time for them to be replaced. If tires have been properly maintained through routine rotations, balancing, and alignment, all four tires should wear out at roughly the same rate.

Another reason to invest in new tires, as opposed to attempting tire repair, is uneven wear on a tire or tires. Uneven wear is most commonly associated with tires that are overinflated, under-inflated, or on wheels that are poorly aligned. This problem is usually easily detected if tires are rotated properly every 5,000-6,000 miles. Uneven wear may result in the need for two new tires, as opposed to four, so long as there is no uneven wear or damage noticeable on the other tires.

If you're tires seem like they're not performing the way they should be, if they're leaking air, or if you have a flat, you need to have your tires checked out. If the circumstances are right, you may be able to get your tires repaired and avoid having to purchase a new set. Head to your local auto dealership to consult an automaker-certified technician about your tires.

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