Although tyre punctures are a fact of life for drivers, many can be avoided through careful driving and parking and can be fixed easily and safely with the correct equipment.
Most frequently punctures result when sharp objects like nails or glass penetrate the tyre causing air to escape. Here are further causes of punctures and tips to help you avoid each:
- Valve stem damage – The valve stem is the tiny tyre protrusion used to inflate your tyre. When loose, clogged, corroded, or damaged, it causes air leakage. Examine your valve stem when checking your tyres and repair or replace where necessary.
- Worn tyres – Check your tyres for wear as this makes them more susceptible to punctures, a sudden loss of inflation and greater braking distance, which can lead to serious accidents.
- Tyre bead leaks – The tyre bead is the edge of the tyre which rests on the rim and causes a flat tyre when leakage occurs around the circumference. Spray your wheels with soapy water if you suspect a leak. If bubbles emerge, see a tyre technician to confirm whether you have a puncture or not.
- Vandalism – Park your car in a safe place to prevent vandalism and criminals letting the air out of your tyres.
- Collision causing the separation of the tyre and rim – The most common cause of separation between tyre and rim is a tyre hitting the curb. This causes a slow loss of air over time and needs an experienced tyre technician to fix the problem.
- Tyres are over-inflated – This extra tyre pressure is dangerous. At worst it can cause a sudden loss of inflation pressure and at best lead to tyres being taught and inflexible which makes them more susceptible to punctures should you hit a pothole.
- Road hazards – Be vigilant while driving and do your best to avoid potholes, extremely uneven roads, and debris (including glass and nails), all of which can damage your car’s undercarriage, axles and wheels.
How to Tell You Have a Puncture
The seriousness of tyre punctures varies according to the nature of the damage and the extent of the penetration. The following symptoms may indicate a tyre puncture:
- Loss of tyre pressure
- Immediate tyre deflation
- Wheels wobbling or shuddering
- Difficulty steering your car
- Car pulling to the left or right as if pulled in that direction
Ignoring these symptoms can cause unnecessary tyre damage and the disintegration of the tyre components. Even more importantly, you could be putting yourself and passengers at risk by leaving you stranded.
What to Do if You Get a Puncture
It’s a good idea to keep a tyre sealant in your car. Note that if your tyre is ripped more than 4mm wide your tyre repair kit is unlikely to work.
If you suspect a puncture, turn off the road safely and gently and follow these steps:
- When several metres away from the traffic and in a secure place, stop your car and apply the handbrake.
- Guide passengers from the car to a safe place.
- Take your tyre sealant from the boot of your car (and compressor, should you have one).
- Locate the puncture.
- Replace the damaged tyre with the spare.
- If you spot a nail or piece of glass in the tyre, do not remove or this will cause a bigger hole.
- Should you need to repair your tyre on the roadside, use the sealant by following the instructions as mechanisms in these repair kits vary.
- After repairing your tyre, check if your car is in neutral, then start the engine and switch on your compressor.
- Inflate the tyre to the correct PSI/Bar recommended in your vehicle handbook.
- When driving off don’t exceed the maximum speed detailed in the car’s handbook and on the repair kit.
A repaired tyre using a repair kit is a temporary measure and only meant to help get you to a safe place. Drive to the nearest Supa Quick dealer and have it properly repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information.