Tyre puncture repair kits – how to use them
Manufacturers are increasingly choosing puncture repair kits over spare tyres. But how do you use them?
If you’ve got a new car, you’ll likely have a tyre puncture repair kit in it instead of a spare wheel. It’s no longer a legal requirement to carry a spare tyre and jack in your car.
Theoretically puncture repair kits are easier and quicker than replacing the wheel itself. But they can be confusing to use and aren’t suitable for all types of puncture.
We’ll take you through the basics of a puncture repair kit and how to use one, so you’ll be ready if the time comes.
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What's in a tyre puncture repair kit?
A puncture repair kit will help you get back on the road so you can have a proper repair at a garage.
It’ll usually consist of:
A bottle of sealant
A speed limit sticker to remind the driver to travel at a certain speed. They usually specify speed limits of around 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. It won't work if your tyre has blown out, of if the wheel structure is damaged. More on this later.
You’ll find the kit either under the floor of your boot or in the side panels of the car.
If you have a puncture, you need to make sure you’re in a safe place and the car is ready before you use the kit:
Your engine should be turned off
Turn your hazards on
Make sure your handbrake is on
Make sure you're away from busy traffic - don't try and repair a tyre on a motorway hard shoulder or at the side of the road
Tell any passengers to get out of the car and wait away from it
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.
How do you know if your tyre has a puncture?
There are certain ways you can tell if you’ve got a tyre puncture. These include:
Feeling shuddering or vibrations in the steering wheel
The steering gets difficult or is less responsive
The car is pulling to the left or right
What are the different types of puncture?
This can flatten the wheel straight away, making it very difficult or even impossible to drive on. At this point, you should pull over and consider your options for repair.
Depending on how serious the puncture is, you may 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 ever happens, you should keep both hands on the wheel, avoid heavy breaking and try to pull over safely. Once it's safe, you can either change your wheel or call your breakdown service.
Blowouts are often caused by having under-inflated tyres, or by hitting a curb or pothole at speed.
As we said above, having an under-inflated tyre can cause a blowout. So always make sure you inflate your tyres to the proper pressure.
How to avoid a tyre puncture
Check your tyres regularly, looking at things like their inflation levels and tyre tread levels to make sure they’re road legal
Avoid driving on roads where you’re more likely to get a flat tyre, e.g. 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 the inevitable happens
What are the downsides to puncture repair kits?
It’s difficult to repair your wheel after using a repair kit. The sealant is difficult to clean so many fitters may refuse to refit your tyre, or charge extra for cleaning it.
What are run-flat tyres?
Driving on a flat tyre may sound dangerous, but run flat tyres enable you to drive with a puncture for a short distance.
Bridgestone's DriveGuard tyres can be used on almost all cars, providing they have a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).
Since November 2014, all new cars must now have a TPMS. This measures the tyres’ internal pressure and alerts drivers to any pressure loss via the dashboard display.
While these tyres can stop you being stranded at the roadside, the you should tell your insurer if you have run-flats fitted, as they could be classed as a modification.
Read more: Car insurance for modified vehicles