Manufacturers are increasingly choosing puncture repair kits over spare tyres. But how do you use them?
Here we take you through the basics of a repair kit so you’ll know how to mend a puncture if the time comes.
Do new cars come with spare tyres?
It’s no longer illegal not to have a spare tyre and the vast majority of new cars don’t have them. Those that do normally have a space-saver tyre rather than a full-sized one.
So if you buy a new car, it’s likely that it has no spare tyre and instead comes with a tyre puncture repair kit.
The move away from spare tyres is partly down to space and weight considerations, and it’s also a cost saving for manufacturers.
What are space-saver tyres?
If you do have a spare tyre in the car, it’s probably a space-saver.
As the name suggests, it’s thinner and smaller than your other 4 tyres.
It’s not meant to be used as a permanent replacement, and should be used only to get you to somewhere you can get a proper replacement.
As a rule of thumb, don’t try driving more than 50 miles when you’re using a space-saver.
You shouldn’t go more than 50 mph with a space-saver on one of your wheels, and drive even slower if it’s icy or wet.
How do you know if your tyre has a puncture?
There are various ways that you can tell if you’ve got a tyre puncture, including:
- Feeling shuddering or vibrations in the steering wheel
- The steering getting difficult or becoming less responsive
- The car pulling to the left or right.
What are the different types of puncture?
This can flatten the wheel straight away, making it difficult or even impossible to keep driving. You should pull over.
Depending on how serious the puncture is, you might not be able to use a repair kit to fix it.
A blowout is the scariest type of puncture. This is when the tyre bursts and all the air escapes, destroying the tyre.
If this happens to you, keep both hands on the wheel, avoid heavy braking and try to pull over safely.
An under-inflated tyre could cause a blowout, so make sure you inflate your tyres to the proper pressure.
What’s in a tyre puncture repair kit?
A puncture repair kit could help you get back on the road so you can head to a garage for a proper repair. It also means you won’t have to change the tyre yourself.
It usually consists of:
A bottle of sealant
A speed limit sticker to remind you to stick to a certain speed (usually about 40 mph).
How do puncture repair kits work?
The disadvantage of repair kits is that they don’t repair every type of puncture.
If it’s a small puncture, the repair kit should help. But it won't work if your tyre has blown out, or if the wheel structure is damaged.
You should find the kit either under the floor of your boot or in a side panel.
If you have a puncture, you need to make sure you’re in a safe place before you use the kit.
Turn your engine off
Turn your hazards on
Make sure your handbrake is on
Make sure you're away from busy traffic – don't try to repair a tyre on a hard shoulder or at the side of the road
Tell any passengers to get out of the car and wait away from it.
How to inflate your tyre:
Remove the dust cap from your tyre
Attach the sealant bottle to the tyre valve
Attach the compressor to the sealant
Attach the compressor to the 12V charger (the cigarette lighter) in your car
Turn on your engine and wait for 10-15 minutes. At this point the tyre should be inflated
Disconnect the compressor and the bottle of sealant, and replace the dust cap.
What are the downsides to puncture repair kits?
Theoretically, puncture repair kits are easier and quicker to use than replacing the wheel itself.
But they aren’t suitable for all types of puncture.
It’s difficult to professionally repair a tyre after using a repair kit. The sealant is usually difficult to clean so many fitters might refuse to repair it, or charge extra for cleaning it.
This means you might have to buy a brand-new replacement, even if the puncture was minor.
A puncture repair kit could get you safely to a garage where the problem can be dealt with professionally. But driving on the repaired tyre could aggravate the original damage.
This might make it less likely that the tyre can be properly fixed and more likely that you have to fork out for a new tyre.
How to avoid a tyre puncture
It’s impossible to guarantee that you’ll avoid a puncture, but there are some things you can do to minimise the risk:
Check your tyres regularly, looking at things such as their tyre pressure and tread levels to make sure they’re roadworthy.
Avoid driving on roads where you’re more likely to get a flat tyre. This includes roads full of potholes, dirt tracks where rocks stick out or industrial estates where there could be nails or glass on the floor.
Make sure you keep the repair kit in your car so you’re prepared if you do get a puncture.
What are run-flat tyres?
Driving on a flat tyre might sound dangerous but run-flat tyres enable you to drive with a puncture for a short distance.
While run-flat tyres could prevent you being stranded at the roadside, you should tell your insurer if you have them fitted.