So, you’ve got yourself a puncture in one or more of your tyres. It can happen. Tyre repair is an option to explore rather than buying a brand-new tyre, but drivers should know the full extent of what is legally permissible to have fixed.
The law in most countries has a strict definition as to the classification of repair materials and the number of repairs permitted on a single tyre. Regulations like these are necessary to ensure safety for all road users.
In summary, tyre repair work is not permissible when:
- The tread depth is lower than the 1.6 mm legal limit;
- The structural integrity of the tyre has been compromised or there is run flat damage;
- The rubber is cracked, worn, or deteriorated;
- There’s damage caused by an external object;
- The cords are exposed;
- There’s any sign of faulty repairs made in the past.
The precise location of the puncture is also a deciding factor. The rules stipulate that tyre repairs must stay within the central three-quarters of the tread, known as the “minor repair area”.
Moreover, if the size of the puncture is more than or equal to 6 mm in diameter, a repair isn’t permitted at all. Drivers have no other alternative than to invest in a brand new tyre.
Are punctures in the sidewall repairable?
In a word, no. More specifically, a puncture that falls outside the minor repair area is not eligible for fixing because of its proximity to the sidewall.
The sidewall is off limits for a straightforward reason. When the tyre is in daily operation, this section undergoes a significant amount of stress. Any attempts at making repairs in this area will potentially weaken the structural integrity of the tyre.
Another factor is that the sidewall experiences the most flex in the tyre. It is unlikely that a repair patch applied here will stay in place for very long, and the tyre will fail once again.
Another aspect concerning the sidewall is that you should avoid driving any further on a flat tyre if you hope to salvage it. Inflation pressure maintains the shape of the tyre while driving; when that pressure is lost, the tyre sidewall is going to be pinched between the wheel rim and the road, therefore continuing to drive will extend the damage beyond the minor repair area.
To summarize: Do not drive on a deflated tyre while the puncture is within the minor repair area (and is therefore repairable). The tyre sidewall could sustain additional damage that renders it beyond repair. The better course of action is to have the vehicle towed or swap the punctured tyre out for the spare tyre until you reach the nearest garage.