The Importance of a Basic Tyre Repair Kit

A 4WD gives you the ability to travel further, exploring more of this great country and experiencing off-the-beaten-track locations. But as the saying goes… You really need to “go prepared.”

Michael Ellem
Jan 04 2024

A 4WD gives you the ability to travel further, exploring more of this great country and experiencing off-the-beaten-track locations. But as the saying goes… You really need to “go prepared.”

Do you have all the equipment you need to ensure a safe return from remote locations? Today we're getting back-to-basics and covering an extremely important piece of gear that is inexpensive but worth its weight in gold.

The basic Tyre Repair Kit.

If you own a 4WD and don’t have one of these, buy one today. You might never need it but when you do, you'll be so happy that you spent the small amount of money on an item that could get you out of trouble.

So, just what is a Tyre Repair Kit?

A basic Tyre Repair Kit is designed to repair a punctured tyre out in the field, but it has a few other advantages as it has several tools and spare parts which can help in other areas too.

When choosing your Kit, check to see it has spare parts -some important ones are replacement valves and valve caps.

Why do you need spare valves?

The valve ensures the air from your compressor can pass through into the tyre while airing up and stops air from exiting the tyre as you drive. If you are inflating in muddy environments, or the air equipment has been dropped in the mud, dirt, or sand, you may introduce contaminants that could damage the valve. The easy way to discover if you have a leaking valve is to apply a small amount of spit or soapy water to the opened valve. If you have bubbles coming out of the valve stem, you know that the valve has been compromised.

By utilising the valve removal tool in the Tyre Repair Kit, you can carefully remove the damaged valve and replace it with a new one from the Kit. This will ensure you can travel without being concerned about the tyre being under the correct pressure.

The Tyre Repair Kit was created to fix a punctured tyre, but it has evolved to include other functions. First, however, I need to stress that this is not meant to be a permanent tyre repair solution. While many people have repaired a tyre using one and run them for some time, you're advised to take the tyre to your nearest tyre repair location and request their expertise in fixing it from the inside using specialised tyre repair equipment and products like vulcanised patches.

When repairing a tyre, the first thing you need to do is figure out where the damage is.

Sometimes it’s obvious and you can hear it; other times it’s almost impossible to find. I recommend leaving a spray bottle in your vehicle for when you might need it. The bottle should contain a little dishwashing liquid, hand soap or shampoo and water which you shake up. When fixing a puncture, spray it over the tyre and look for bubbles. The fluid becomes more viscous and as the air escapes, it will expand through the film of water and soap creating bubbles which are easier to see. Keep this bottle on hand, as in just a few moments, you use it again. If you can't find the failure, move the vehicle forward a little as the damage might be under the tyre. If you still can't see the problem, check the rim for damage. Rim damage such as fine cracks, or completely broken wheels unfortunately won't be fixed by a Tyre Kit.

Now you know where the damage is, you need to figure out if the repair can be performed safely. If the puncture is in the tread of the tyre, you have a great chance of repairing the tyre successfully and safely.

If the damage is in the side wall of the tyre, a repair should only be carried out if you are driving at low speeds, for example, low range driving through dunes in the desert. The problem with repairing sidewalls is that the tyre could suffer a catastrophic failure at speed and cause an accident.

Each kit will contain instructions and should be followed, but here's a rough guide...

Something has created this puncture. It could be as simple as a stick, sharp rock, nail or screw which has penetrated or fractured the tyre. We've even seen things like animal bones stuck through tyres. You need to figure out if the debris is still in the tyre and clear out the hole it has created. We recommend wearing safety glasses or sunglasses while doing this as the tyre is under pressure and can blow items or debris out of the cavity as you try to clear it. Using the probe tool provided in the kit, lever it around the hole feeling to see if there is anything stuck. If there is, you might be able to lever it out, or using the long nose pliers from the kit, pull the debris out. When the hole is clear, you'll need to push the tool through the tyre to create enough space to push the plugs through.

Usually, a fair bit of pressure is required to achieve the required result. You can roughen up the hole by pushing through a few times. I recommend tools with metal handles as they are a lot stronger to support the force that needs to be applied.

A number of plugs come with the kit and these plugs are placed in a needle-like end ready for use.

The plug is then pushed through the tyre and the tool is rotated and retrieved leaving the plug stuck in the tyre’s cavity. The pressure from the inside of the tyre pushes against the plug sealing the hole.

When the tyre is temporarily repaired, the end of the plug will stick out slightly. Its best to cut off the excess plug using the blade provided in your Kit and then while pumping the tyre up to the required pressure, spray the repair site with the soapy spray to identify if there is any air still escaping. After a short distance travelled, have another look at the puncture-site, spraying it again to see if there has been any movement.

If the repair has been done properly, this will last the remainder of your trip and help you get to a tyre repair shop but remember… this is only a temporary solution.

The Tyre Repair Kit is designed to temporarily repair a tyre to keep you travelling. In instances like remote travel, you can fix multiple punctures using this kit to ensure you get to your destination.

On a trip many years ago with Ron Moon for 4X4 Australia magazine, I was sent on an expedition following the footsteps of an early explorer and was provided a new Hummer H3 to capture imagery from the trip.

This vehicle was top-of-the-line in many ways, but while the chrome upgrades and other accessories were probably a little excessive, the tyre choice was basic. It came with a set of Goodyear Wranglers which were not really meant for this sort of remote travel. I ended up getting puncture after puncture, with a total of 23 repairs needed using my ARB Tyre Repair Kit. That's a lot, right? This is why it's so important to choose good tyres for your 4WD.

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I have been running BFG KM3s for over 270,000 kms on our The Mighty 79 Landcruiser with not a single puncture (touch wood!). We finished that trip with the Hummer in South Australia but before I headed back to Sydney, I ordered a complete set of new tyres to get me home safely. There was no way I was going to take the chances of a tyre failing at speed and endangering fellow travellers.

The Tyre Repair Kit is a valuable addition to your 4WD so, head to your favourite 4WD store and pick one up before your next trip away.

“Cheers”

Michael Ellem | Offroad Images

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Michael Ellem
Michael Ellem is a long term friend of the Club 4X4 Insurance and voice of The Campfire. He is also an expert adventure, 4X4 photographer from the renowned Offroad Images and has over 20 years experience in the industry.