“In principle, a lot can be repaired on tires”, explains Christian Koch, tire specialist at expert organization DEKRA. Minor damage does not necessarily mean that the entire tire has to be replaced. If repaired professionally, you can often still use it for a long time.
“There is a myth that you can only repair tires that are approved up to a certain speed. That's definitely not true”, emphasizes Koch. “It always depends on the extent of the damage and the overall condition of the tire.” For example, it must not have been driven in a depressurized state. In particular, the area where the tread joins the sidewall must not show any damage. Motorcycle tires may only be repaired in the tread area.
Assessing repairability requires expertise and experience
“The tricky thing about repairing a tire is not so much carrying out the repair itself as making a well-founded assessment of whether tire damage is, in fact, repairable. This is a complex issue that belongs in the hands of a specialist garage with trained and experienced personnel”, emphasizes the expert. This is a job with responsibility, because with the repair, the company often assumes liability for ensuring that the tire is roadworthy and has the same performance characteristics as the original.
Removal from the rim is indispensable
In order to assess whether a tire is suitable for repair, it is absolutely necessary to remove it from the rim. This is the only way the specialist can check the tire in its entirety from the inside: for example, whether the sidewall has remained undamaged or whether the puncture is too large. “If the tire is repaired from the outside, there is no such certainty. The risk of tire failure, possibly at higher driving speeds, is always present”, warns the expert.
“From a technical point of view, the actual tire repair isn’t rocket science”, says the DEKRA tire expert. It is even repeatedly suggested to consumers as a simple, do-it-yourself solution. However, the expert recommends that laymen keep their hands off it. In addition to training, specialist knowledge and experience, this also requires the equipment needed to remove the tire from the rim.
Don't make any mistakes in the event of a puncture
If you want to keep the option of a tire repair open, you must not make any mistakes in the event of a puncture. “If you fill the tire with a puncture spray to seal the puncture from the inside, for example, you will not be able to have the tire repaired afterwards, but will have to replace it”, explains Christian Koch.
You should also not drive on with a flat tire, even for short distances; this would damage the tire beyond repair. It is also not advisable to pull objects that caused the puncture out of the tire, as this leads directly to a rapid loss of pressure.
Important to know: If you use a puncture spray, for example, or insert rubberized cords from the outside to seal a puncture, you must visit a workshop quickly. “Such solutions are only suitable for short distances. They do not constitute a repair, but merely a short-term restoration of the tire's functional properties”, says the expert.
A flexible solution for a flat tire is a complete spare or an emergency wheel in the car, provided there is enough space in the trunk. This also gives you the option of having the tire repaired afterwards.