Don’t let a puncture ruin your 4WD trip
The correct knowledge and the right repair kit will ensure a speedy repair of any puncture
Tyres are obviously an important part of driving your 4WD, and as such when they go down you are usually a little annoyed and rightly so. They are bloody expensive and who really knows which ones to get? Everyone has an opinion, which will no doubt be voiced around the campfire that night, or at the very least while you repair your flat tyre.
Most punctures are repairable so at the very least you can get yourself out of trouble. The method of repairing these tyres depends on the type of tyre you are running.
Dealing with 4WD tyre repairs
If you are running a radial tyre you can usually use a plug type repair that when inserted into the tyre will seal the hole. Once your tyre is inflated back up to the correct pressure for your current terrain application you’ll be mobile once again. However, these are not meant as a permanent fix and the tyre should be replaced at your earliest convenience. Easy to say, but if you are on day 1 of a 3-week desert run, then you’ll need to manage your tyres carefully, keeping more than one spare is always a wise option.
If necessary you can keep using the repaired tyre while off road, and replace it with your good tyre when you get to the bitumen for high speed running. Some tyres have been known to take as many as 15 plugs, and up to five in one hole. Although this was extreme, we managed to put two new tyres on for the home run, without having to pay exorbitant prices for tyres in remote places.
Choosing the right tyre repair kit
When purchasing a plug type kit for your radials make sure that they have sturdy, strong and heavy handles, as when you are trying to push through steel belts on some tyres, it can be exceptionally hard, and a fair amount of force (usually your full body weight) may be required. There is nothing worse than falling flat on your face because the handle could not take the pressure.
Plug type kit usage guidelines
Using a plug type repair kit
First you need to find the hole by using soapy water if you cannot see the offending blighter that put the hole there in the first place. Then remove the offending object, run the rasp through the hole to clear the ends of the steel belts so they will not damage the plug when it is inserted.
- Insert the plug
While the rasp is in the hole, note the angle that the rasp is on as that is the way that you will put the plug in with the plug tool. When you have inserted the plug tool leaving approximately 10mm hanging out of the hole, pull the tool out. Do not twist when you take it out. This will leave small tails hanging out. Trim the tails, reinflate the tyre, check for leakage and keep travelling.
- Repair the hole
It is easier to repair while there is air in the tyre so if it is flat get your compressor and put some air in the tyre. If the bead has been broken then you may need to repair the tyre while flat, and then try and get your compressor to seal the bead, and then pop it. This is not always so easy, however, if you have to do it a lot there is a tool for this called a bead bazooka, which is a tank that has compressed air in it. While your compressor is trying to inflate and seal the tyre you will shoot the compressed air at the portion of the bead that will not seal. By forcing air in you will create a back pressure from the air already in the tyre and hey presto a sealed bead.
- Reinflate the tyre
Now simply wait for your compressor to inflate the tyre and pop the bead making sure you do not have your fingers anywhere near the bead when it pops because you may lose them. While the bead is broken it would be smart to clean them up, using a bit of detergent to make the bead pop easier, and also to show if there are any leaks once the bead has popped back on.
Easy and quick, it will probably take you less time to do the fix while the tyre has air in it than it will to read this article, or at the very least for me to write it.
Rag tyres or radials that you run with a split rim are a different thing altogether. These tyres usually have a far thicker side wall and are horrible to drive on but super tough when in stake country, as the walls on these are usually at least 12 ply or equivalent and sometimes a lot more.
Right, now you have the knowledge, go buy the correct equipment.