If you head out 4WDing without a tyre repair kit in the back, you are mad. They are cheap, easy to use and extremely effective at getting you home without needing help from anyone else.
Now, this doesn’t have to be a full blown repair kit with tubes, tyre levers and everything else to swap a tyre over on a rim, but it should at least be able to fix basic punctures. I’d consider this a necessity for your 4WD tyres.
What’s in a tyre repair kit?
Most basic tyre repair kits come with a reaming tool, plug insertion needle, a knife, plug lubricant, tyre valve stems and cores, tyre plugs, patches and its all in one neat case that is quite light, and takes up very little room.
How do you use a tyre repair kit?
These can be used without much knowledge or effort at all, and will give you lots of peace of mind, especially if you only carry one spare tyre.
Where is the puncture?
To start with, consider where the puncture is, and if it is fixable or not. Sidewall tyre punctures are generally the end of your 4WD tyre, and even the best all terrain and mud terrain tyres do occasionally get stakes through the edge.
If you are off road, these can be repairable using a tyre repair kit, even if its just enough to stop most of the leak. A good mate of mine staked the edge of his tyre on the Holland Track, and rammed about 16 plugs in.
It was enough to get us off the track, where he was then able to put the spare on and drive home without the worry of puncturing another tyre and being stopped in his tracks.
You should not drive on the road with a sidewall puncture that has been repaired, and even off road at anything more than slow speeds, as the repair is simply not reliable.
If its a puncture in the tread, its super easy and quick to repair, unless the hole is massive (but they usually aren’t).
Repairing the puncture
The actual repair is easy as.
Cut a tyre plug in half, and feed it through the plug insertion tool.
Remove what ever caused the puncture with pliers, and then push the reaming tool in to clean the hole out and make it a suitable size.
Push the plug insertion needle into the hole, until its about half way into the tyre. From there, push the plate down and pull the needle out, in one movement. The end result is the plug sticks through the tyre in the hole, and it should be holding the air.
Trim the excess rubber off, and pump the tyre up. Spray some water on the hole to make sure that the leak is stopped, and then keep an eye on it. If its still leaking, you can add a second or third plug as required, until it stops.
How much do they cost?
Tyre repair kits range from about $25 to $100, depending on whether you buy a brand name one, and how much gear comes in it. We’ve been happy with our $30 Repco unit; you don’t have to spend a fortune. You don’t need the best tyre repair kit in Australia!
When you compare this to the price of a formal tyre repair, or even a replacement mud terrain or all terrain tyre, its money well spent.
How long does a tyre repair kit last?
We are still on our original tyre repair kit (nearly 15 years old), and its been used more on our cars driving around town than anywhere else. I picked up two screws in a matter of weeks driving around Perth, and with the kit its so easy to do the repair and get on with life.
Most kits come with about 20 plugs, and if you are cutting them in half its 40 normal repairs, or less if you need to double them up.
Where can you get a tyre repair kit?
You can buy Tyre repair kits from all the usual Auto shops. Repco, Supercheap, Auto One, Auto Pro, Auto Bahn, Veale Auto Parts etc. Alternatively, most 4WD shops sell them (ARB, TJM, Ironman etc) or you can buy them on eBay, from Snowys and plenty of other online shops.
Temporary vs permanent repairs
One important thing to mention is that tyre repairs done with these kits are intended to be temporary, and they should be professionally repaired when using the vehicle for on road use.
They are great for getting you back to civilisation, but you should have the tyre repaired properly from the inside, or replace it as required.
This is even more critical if the puncture is from the sidewall, as these types of plugs will eventually fail, and you’ll be back to square dot.
Get a tyre repair kit
If you are travelling without a tyre repair kit, you are mad. Seriously. They are cheap as chips, light weight, take up no weight and can save your bacon more than you might realise. We’re really happy to have ours along, and know that if we do get a puncture in the middle of the bush its not a big deal.