Punctured tyre? We look at the best solutions

Punctured tyre
This doesn’t have to be you if you’ve had a puncture (Picture iStock/Bobex-73)

Had a punctured tyre recently? If so, how did you deal with it? Chances are you didn’t change the wheel at the roadside. Not because you couldn’t be bothered but because spare wheels are considered old tech by most car makers now.

More than 90 per cent of new cars are sold without a spare wheel as standard. Drivers can often specify one as an optional extra (they cost between about £100 and £300 depending on the car), so it’s worth checking whether that box has been ticked by a previous owner if buying a used car.

If it hasn’t, what are your choices and are they any good? We investigate three puncture solutions.

What is a run-flat tyre?

These are called different names by different manufacturers: Self-Supporting Run-flat, ExtendedMobility or Zero Pressure are a few. Whatever the name, the idea is a simple one. A run-flat tyre has a super-stiff sidewall that doesn’t require air to enable the tyre to function as it should. In regular tyres, it’s the pressure of the air contained within the rubber casing that enables a tyre to do its job.

For

You may not know you’ve had a puncture if your car has run-flat tyres. Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) actually first came about to warn drivers using run-flat tyres who may not have realised their tyres had lost air pressure.

Against

Your TPMS should warn you about a loss of pressure and although you can continue driving safely, you shouldn’t travel for more than 50 miles. Run-flat tyres can’t be repaired because it’s impossible to tell if the tyre’s integrity has been affected by running without air. And thanks to the more rigid sidewall, drivers can find the ride of their car feels rather hard and unforgiving over bumps.

What about tyre sealants?

Punctured tyre
Tyre sealants can be an effective solution (Picture Holts Auto)

Instead of a spare wheel, many new cars come with an aerosol of sealant and a compressor. You attach the sealant to the valve and inject it. Hopefully this should plug the hole when the tyre has air put back into it. You can then use the compressor to re-inflate the tyre. Assuming the tyre doesn’t let go completely and blow out, the sealant should enable you to get home but it’s a temporary repair. You can buy cans of sealant at most car parts retailers. Prices start at £2 but expect to pay between £5 and £10.

For

Car makers have chosen this option because they are significantly lighter than spare wheels. Tyre experts claim sealants will fix about four in every five punctures, which theoretically makes them about as useful as carrying a spare wheel.

Against

If the tyre is ripped rather than holed, for example by a pothole or kerb, they won’t work. Some drivers say they’ve had trouble injecting the sealant. And although sealant producers claim their product will easily wash out, many tyre outlets remain cynical. This means if you have a simple hole in the tyre that could be legally and safely plugged by a professional, tyre repairers may refuse.

How do puncture-proof tyres work?

punctured tyre
Simple explanation of how puncture-sealing tyres work (Picture Kumho)

For around the last 100 years, as long as cars have had pneumatic tyres, the puncture has been the blight of life as a driver. But now someone has come up with the puncture-proof tyre. The idea is that a rubber gum lines the inside of the tyre. When something like a nail holes the tyre, the membrane ‘heals’ it.

For

No more stopping at the road side to change a wheel with a tyre that’s been punctured by a nail.

Against

Some experts worry that if nails or screws are left in tyres, they might cause damage that will eventually see the tyre fail suddenly with a blowout. The puncture-proof membrane can’t work on the side walls so isn’t effective against potholes or kerb damage.

Read how to look after your tyres here

13 comments on “Punctured tyre? We look at the best solutions

  1. Eric Hayman April 23, 2019 3:08 pm

    Another example of trying to solve a needless problem. The full size spare wheel is a pefectly sensible way to deal with punctures, along with sealant and a compressor or tyre pump. But no – car makers design cars with no space for a full size spare wheel, or for any sort of spare wheel; just to save a few pounds in weight and cost. And that is supposed to boost sales?!!!

  2. Ian Burgess April 23, 2019 6:36 pm

    my solution was to join green flag

  3. Ray Stevens April 24, 2019 11:47 am

    very interesting message regarding the use of sealants !!! i question the use of them though i always new getting one fixed properly at a garage with sealant in would highly likely be a no no, as for No spare tyres with new cars today manufacturers are scrimping again, i would Not buy a car without a spare and i would Not be prepared to pay extra for it either, So Car dealers take Note plenty more people with my attitude

  4. dave April 24, 2019 6:34 pm

    I for one think this idea of injecting this liquid rubber into your tyres is a very good idea my tyres have had this in them for about 2 years and it seems to work.I was in the forces when this liquid was first introduced used for transporting fuel on the ocean in giant rubber tyres no punctures were ever had with this product so I have first hand knowledge of the stuff,

  5. Eric Hayman April 25, 2019 12:14 pm

    How about using the insides of all four road tyres as extra fuel tanks?

    • Godfrey Jaye April 25, 2019 1:34 pm

      Ha ha that might be a bit dangerous!

    • Eleanor Holmes June 5, 2019 9:03 am

      Bonkers and potentially very dangerous. I’m sure it would also be illegal.

    • Em Lillyman June 25, 2019 9:24 am

      er… tires get HOT!

  6. Daid D June 3, 2019 5:50 pm

    Being ex forces I had the chance to try out the new then liquid tyre injection not just for tyres either used for rubber fuel containers and it worked extremely well so that’s what is in my tyres.

  7. Nigel Leavers June 5, 2019 6:44 am

    Although still in early stages of development, airless tyres are on the way – at last.

    • Eleanor Holmes June 5, 2019 9:04 am

      I’ve got airless tyres on my wheelchair and they give an appalling ride. If you don’t mind your fillings falling out – you are welcome to them!

  8. Nicholas Langrishe June 5, 2019 8:43 am

    I simply ordered a spare wheel when I bought my Mini – good value when compared to the rip off charge for metallic paint. In 7 years I have used it twice, the jack is quite good & the skinny spare is light and easy to put on, unlike my BMW wheels which are big and heavy & would be awkward for a smaller/ older person to change.

  9. Glenn Sealey June 14, 2019 10:51 am

    The tyre fitters all refuse to mend a tyre on which the sealant has bee used. A replacement canister from Jaguar’s pump cost £38 . A canister from a motor retailer cost £10. It’s just another way of cutting manufacturing costs and then ripping off the motorist, we are seen by most types of organisation as a bottomless money pit.

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