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One of the last sights drivers want to see when they are getting ready to drive their vehicle is a flat tire. They realize that in addition to the immediate inconvenience of having to install their spare tire, they will have to get the punctured tire repaired. And if their tire is a steel belted radial (and whose isn't?), it must be repaired immediately to minimize potential long term deterioration started by the puncture.
A punctured speed rated tire brings with it additional considerations. While some tire manufacturers "allow" a tire to retain its speed rating if a specified multi-step repair procedure is followed exactly, most tire manufacturers reason that since they have no control over the damage caused by the puncture or the quality of the repair, they cannot confirm that the tire has retained its high speed capability. Therefore, their policy is that a punctured and repaired tire no longer retains its speed rating and should be treated as a non-speed rated tire.
While almost any sharp object left on the road can cause a puncture, most are caused by small nails and screws (typically less than 1/4" in diameter).
Guidelines allow the repair of punctures in a tire's tread area of up to 1/4" in diameter. Repair of larger tread punctures and of punctures to the tire's shoulder and sidewall areas are not recommended.
There are three primary considerations when repairing a punctured tire. You need to evaluate the damage the object caused as it punctured the tire, reestablish an airtight seal of the tire's innerliner, and completely fill the path the object took through the tire. Typically a mushroom-shaped patch and plug combination repair is considered to be the best method of repairing a punctured steel belted radial.
Any repair attempted without removing the tire from the wheel is improper. Without inspecting the inside of the tire for hidden damage comes the risk of returning a weakened tire to service. Punctures in the tread area that looked repairable have revealed upon further investigation that the object that punctured the tire had been long enough to cut the tire's sidewall from the inside. Without dismounting the tire, the hidden damage would have been missed.