A punctured tire is inevitable, especially if you travel regularly on rough terrain.
At best, it throws a wrench in your plans, and at worst, it’s a serious safety hazard. Unfortunately, you can’t always repair tire punctures, especially if the structure near the sidewall is damaged.
So, how close to the sidewall can a tire be patched? Generally, anything beyond 1” of the shoulder is safe, but there are various other factors at play as well.
How Do Tire Patches Work?
Many tire experts recommend getting a new tire when it comes to patches, however, it’s not always feasible.
Patches are among the best ways to safely repair your tires as long as the damage is within 1/4th of an inch.
Bigger holes are technically possible to repair, but the risk of a blowout or permanent damage rises exponentially.
A radial patch is basically an additional vulcanized rubber piece applied from inside the tire with the help of a cement-based repair sealant.
The process is fairly straightforward and takes a maximum of 30 minutes on average.
Moreover, you also get a chance to analyze the extent of the damage to your tire during the patching process.
This way, you’ll precisely know when it’s a good time to start looking for a replacement rather than thinking about repairs.
Basic Things to Remember About Patching Tires
Tire patches are a permanent fix that can ensure your tire works perfectly for a very long time. When done correctly, your tire will work just like new and still deliver the same performance as before. However, there are a few things you should always remember about patching tires.
1. Always Seek Professional Help
Irrespective of what you find over the internet, radial patches are not a DIY solution unless you have the proper tools and expertise.
Tires are essential for your safety behind the wheel and you should never compromise on them.
A bad radial patch can lead to several problems for you and can quickly render your tire unusable.
You may not notice any air leaking quickly but bad puncture jobs can allow moisture to penetrate your tires and degrade them from the inside.
Not only that, but they can also cause a blowout and other safety issues during the drive which may lead to a serious accident if you are not careful.
2. Never Patch If the Hole is Bigger Than the Limit
As stated before, the maximum limit you can patch is 1/4th of an inch.
Anything bigger than that and your patch will definitely fail. Tires are generally subjected to a plethora of forces and pressures.
Different forces come into play, so it’s important to ensure that you maintain the structural integrity of your tire.
Holes slightly bigger than 1/4th of an inch will be patched, but the tire won’t be able to sustain it for very long.
So, you should only do it for emergency cases. In most cases, the experts at your tire shop will let you know if any puncture is completely irreparable.
3. Try to Avoid Multiple Patches
Another thing you should always remember is that tire experts never recommend patching a single tire after once.
However, multiple patches can work if you regularly drive on paved roads exclusively.
For multiple punctures, the condition of your tire, the proximity to the previous puncture, and the size. Everything matters.
Generally, the second patch must always be at least ½’ apart from the first one. Anything closer than that you’ll immediately have to get a replacement tire.
However, the final decision depends on the condition of your tires. The expert at the tire shop will guide you better about what to do in this case.
4. Always prefer Patches Over Plugs
Another important thing to remember about patching tires is that plugs are only a superficial fix for the short term.
They do last long, but radial patches will always be better. If you ever get a flat tire, always go for a radial patch. It’ll last better and keep you protected.
Plugs are only recommended for short-term uses. Suppose you get a flat and have all the tools needed for plugging a tire.
Get it done and go to the nearest tire shop asap. There, you’ll be able to get a long-term fix.
5. Never Repair a Tire with a Damaged Sidewall
Finally, it’s extremely essential for you to understand that you must never, absolutely never, repair a tire with sidewall damage.
It may sound harsh, but pinching a penny over here will lead to disastrous consequences.
If you ever see sidewall damage, simply consider replacing the tire.
You’ll find tons of advice on the internet where people would swear that they repaired their sidewall and it’s working well. However, ignore all that.
Even if you approach a tire shop with sidewall damage, you are unlikely to find an expert who’ll agree to repair your tire.
Multiple standards and regulations prevent them from ever servicing customers’ requests of repairing the sidewall.
So, it’s best to stay safe rather than regret it later.
Why Can’t I Patch a Tire’s Sidewall?
All tires have 3 regions.
The crown is the strongest part that remains in contact with the road, the sidewalls are the lateral part, and the shoulders are the boundary between the crown and the sidewall.
The design of the sidewalls allows them to bear all the weight on the tire.
They consist of several layers consisting of steel wires, polymers, and other elements that can’t be repaired with a simple patch.
Sidewalls are so sensitive that you shouldn’t even consider patching near them as it compromises a tire’s structural integrity.
It goes without saying that driving with a structurally weak tire will cause problems for you.
You’ll open yourself to multiple unnecessary risks that may have severe financial consequences and may even put your life in danger.
What About the Shoulder? It’s Not on the Sidewall
So, it makes sense that patching the sidewall is not safe. But you might wonder what’s wrong with patching a hole near the shoulder?
It’s actually a part of the crown, so why isn’t it in the safe zone?
The simple reason is that the forces near the shoulder are too great for a patch to sustain. Consider any car tire. Whether it’s stationary or on a moving vehicle, the tire deals with a lot of forces.
The internal pressure from the air inside, the weight of your car, the frictional forces from the ground, and numerous other factors affect your tire.
While most of the weight and pressure are sustained by the sidewall, the force still gets distributed across the tire.
The region within 1” of the shoulder undergoes a lot of pressure, and patching in that area might result in a severe blowout or any other issues.
How Long Will My Tire Patch Last?
Radial patches are a permanent solution that can last for years.
This means that you probably won’t have to worry about the patch giving up during the entire lifecycle of the tire.
However, this security is contingent on the quality of the patch. An improper job will not only cause your tire to lose its pressure.
You’ll also be at the risk of a serious accident because of a blowout.
Final Thoughts on How Close to Sidewall Can a Tire be Patched
Flat tires are something we all have dealt with. In many cases, a simple radial patch will be more than good enough for you to go.
However, the position of the puncture or damage matters a lot.
Anyone familiar with tires will tell you that there is a limit to how close to sidewall can a tire be patched.
Just like the location, the dimensions of the hole also play an important role.
If the damage is extensive or not in the safe zone, then it’s always better to look for a replacement.
You’ll be endangering your safety otherwise, and that is something you should never compromise on.