How to Patch a Flat Tire

How to Patch a Flat Tire

Last Updated August 8, 2023 | Bill Tumas

It's happened to everyone. Your car runs over a nail or a glass bottle and now the tire is leaking air. While there are cases where it's best to have a professional patch your tires, patching them yourself is a much easier and cheaper option that can hold up for daily driving.

Many flat tires don't require the time and money spent on a tow truck or a trip to the mechanic. With a little know-how and a few basic tools, you can patch that flat tire yourself and get back on the road in no time.

In this guide, we will take you through a step-by-step process, covering everything you need to know about patching a flat tire. We've got you covered from pro tips and detailed instructions to equipping yourself with the right tools and techniques. You'll have the confidence and skills to tackle a flat tire emergency like a seasoned pro by the time you finish reading.

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Steps to Fix a Flat Tire

For this repair we used a tire repair kit that includes a reaming tool, a patch insertion tool, tire patch cement, and the patch itself. The tire patching process is very easy and only requires the tools included in the kit. Access to pressurized air is helpful for inflation. The process will only take 20-30 minutes, so you should be back on the road in no time.

Step 1: Inflate the Tire

Unscrew the valve cap on the tire and inflate the tire using compressed air. You likely won't be able to inflate the tire to the factory recommended PSI due to the leak, so inflating it until the tire has some pressure will work fine.

Inflating a car tire

Step 2: Locate the Leak

Spray down the area you suspect is leaking with soapy water. If there is a leak beneath the wet area you should see bubbles that indicate air is leaking.

For larger punctures, you will hear a hiss as well. Once you locate the leak, make sure it's in a patchable area. Patch kits will only work on the tread area of the tire. They will not work on the sidewall.

Spraying water on a car tire

Step 3: Clean the Puncture

Make sure to remove any shrapnel from the puncture location before continuing. Then, use a reaming tool to press firmly on the hole until it enters the tire. Twist the tool from side to side- while pressing it into the tire. This will help open up the hole and clear out any debris. Be sure to press the reaming tool in the direction of the puncture.

Using a reaming tool on a car tire puncture

Step 4: Apply Tire Patch Cement

Apply a generous amount of tire patch cement around the puncture.

Applying tire patch cement

Step 5: Attach Tire Patch to Tool

Slide the tire patch into the opening in the patch tool. Pull on the patch until it is centered on the tool.

Attaching tire patch to tool

Step 6: Apply Patch to Tire Puncture

Push the tire patch tool into the puncture until the patch is sticking out slightly. Remove the tool from the patch (the tool is designed to release) and pull the tool out of the tire. Make sure the patch is tightly sealed to the sides of the hole.

Installing car tire patch

Step 7: Cut Off the Excess Patch Length

Use a pair of scissors to cut off the excess patch length, so it is flush with the surface of the tire.

Cutting car tire patch

Step 8: Reflate the Tire

Reflate the tire to the factory recommended PSI. Reapply soapy water to the tire surface to make sure the patched leak is not releasing any air.

Inflating car tire

Congratulations, you're all done!

Tire Patch Didn't Work? We've Got You Covered

Knowing how to patch a tire is a valuable skill that can save you time, money, and headaches in the long run. Whether you encounter a small puncture or a larger gash, the process of patching a tire allows you to regain control over your vehicle's safety and get back on the road quickly.

By following the proper procedures and using the right tools, you can extend the life of your tires, reduce the risk of blowouts, and maintain optimal traction on the road. Remember, safety is always a priority, so seek professional assistance if you are unsure or uncomfortable with the patching process. With the right knowledge and a little bit of practice, you'll be well-prepared to handle tire repairs yourself.

Some incidents will leave your tires beyond repair and in need of replacement. In those cases, we have you covered. Check out our extensive selection of tire options below for top quality brands and styles.

This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.