No one likes it, but if you drive a car then you will have to deal with a flat tire at least once. It’s annoying, it’s inconvenient, and it’s a nuisance. Thankfully, tire patch cost isn’t too expensive. If the puncture is significant, then you might need other repairs on your tires. However, most tire repairs are inexpensive and shouldn’t take too much of your time. There will be scenarios where you might be better off buying new tires altogether, but even this isn’t too expensive. We’ll discuss more this later on, along with tire patch cost, what you should if you have a flat, and all things flat tires.
What Causes a Flat Tire?
There are several reasons why your tire has gone flat. The most common cause is probably punctures caused by sharp objects such as nails, screws, or broken glass that you ran over on the road. Because these items are so small, it’s almost impossible to spot and avoid them as you drive along. When you do run over them, if they happen to be at the right angle, they can puncture your tire. This causes air to escape and your tires to go flat. This may take days or even minutes depending on the severity of the puncture.
Bent wheels or rims can also cause a flat tire. A bent wheel can cause your tire to slowly lose air, leading to a flat tire. This problem is usually caused by driving over a pothole at high speeds. If the impact is violent enough, then it can bend your wheels. If you have large rims with thin tires, you might want to drive more carefully and avoid potholes as they are more prone to damage and bending.
Other causes include collisions, hitting a curb, faulty valve stem, and overinflating the tires. Yes, overinflating your tires can actually lead to a flat tire. The reason is that overinflating your tires will cause the tires to wear unevenly. Over a period of time, uneven wear can cause tire problems, including flat tires.
What to Do if You Have a Flat Tire
In the event of a flat tire, there are several things that you can do depending on the scenario. If you happen to be driving slowly or stationary and you think you have a flat tire, pull over. Turn on your hazard lights and safely pull over to the side of the road to check your tires. Ideally, you will need a tire pressure gauge and the tire pressure should read at least 30 PSI, but you can physically check it as well. A well-inflated tire should feel firm when you push it, if it’s not that you may have a flat. Some new cars also have a tire pressure sensor, so you can check from the car’s on-board computer.
Once you confirm you have a flat, you have two options: either take it to a nearby auto shop (if there is any) or change the tires with your spares. If there is no auto shop nearby, then you will need to do the latter. To change your tires, you will need to loosen the lug nuts on your flat tire. Also, don’t forget to engage the parking brake. Then put the car on a jack, and proceed to remove all of the lugnuts. You can then remove the wheel and replace it with your spare. Afterward, put the lug nuts back on, lower the car from the jack, and tighten up the lug nuts again. You should be good to go to the nearest auto shop.
If You have a High-Speed Blowout
Now, if you’re driving at high speeds and you have a flat tire or a blowout, don’t slam on the brakes. Your car is currently unstable and slamming on the brakes will only make matters worse. Instead, let go of the gas pedal and gently feed the brakes, bringing the car to a gradual stop. If you need to change lanes, don’t forget to use your turn signal and watch your mirrors and the traffic around you. Once you’re on the side of the road or the hard shoulder, then you can turn on your hazard warning lights to warn other drivers. Afterward, replace the flat tire with your spare wheels to continue your journey.
Should You Use a Tire Patch?
Because tire patch cost is cheap, you might be thinking of immediately going ahead with the repairs. But before you use a tire patch, there are some things that you should pay attention to. First, try and locate where the puncture is. If the puncture is less than a quarter-inch in diameter, then yes you can use a tire patch. Otherwise, forget about it. Then if the puncture is on the shoulder of the tire, you can’t use a tire patch. Using a tire patch will actually cause internal damage in this scenario. Additionally, the shoulder is a structural part of the tire, and once there’s a puncture, the structural integrity of your tire is compromised. However, if the puncture is between tire treads, then you can use a tire patch.
Lastly, you will need to check your tire tread depth. You can do this by using a tire tread bar, and if the tread measures less than 3/32 inches, then you shouldn’t use a tire patch. If anything, you really should buy some new tires. Here’s a video to help you learn how to measure tire treads:
Tire Patch Cost
So, how much does a tire patch cost exactly? On average, a tire patch and rebalance will cost you around $25. However, depending on where you live, some auto shops may charge you as high as $40 for a tire patch. Some auto shops may offer you tire sealant, which will add another $15 to the bill. However, tire sealants are not necessary if you only have a single puncture. If you have multiple small punctures, then a tire sealant can help to seal these punctures effectively.
[highlightedDIY Tire Patch Cost[/highlighted]
A DIY tire patch kit usually costs between $5 – $20. It’s not really that much cheaper than the tire patch cost at an auto shop, but if you want to fix it yourself then you can buy the kit. You can also buy a more complete kit with a sealant and a pump for around $50.
You can learn how to plug your own tire if you have a flat with this great video from ChrisFix:
What If You Can’t Use a Tire Patch?
As mentioned, if the puncture is on the shoulder or sidewall of your tire, then you can’t patch your tire and you will need to change it. Your mechanic will also tell you if the puncture is too big to fix with a tire patch. In which case, you will need to replace the tire altogether.
It is recommended that you at least replace two tires and not just the one with the puncture. For example, if your left front needs to be replaced, then ideally you should replace the right front as wear. This is to avoid uneven tire wear on the two tires. But if your tires are still relatively new, you should be fine with replacing just one of them.
Average Tire Price
On average, a cheap entry-level tire costs between $80 – $200 to buy. For sedans and hatchback, it’s usually around $130 on average for an all-season tire, while summer tires are usually around $100 each. If you have a larger car like an SUV, it might be more expensive with an average price of around $170. Some auto shops may offer tires with free mounting and balancing service, but some may charge between $15 – $45 for this service.
Of course, you can also buy higher-quality tires as well if you feel like splurging. They can cost anywhere between $200 – $500 depending on your tire size, with an average price of around $230 for most cars. Of course, if you have larger and wider wheels, the tires will be more expensive.
If you have a performance car, then it will be necessary for you to purchase these high-performance tires. They offer better grip and traction, and sometimes better durability as well. High-performance tires will sometimes come with a limited warranty as well, which means you can replace them for free if they fail and you meet the warranty requirements.
Understanding Your Tires
Before you buy new tires, you will need to understand what all the numbers and letters mean on the side of your wall. Here’s our guide to understanding tires:
Tires come in many sizes which you can tell by simply reading the numbers and letters on the sidewall. You will normally see something like this at the side of your tire: 245/40-R18. The first number indicates the width of the tire in millimeters, so if it reads 245, that means the tire is 245mm wide. The larger the number, the wider the tire is.
The second number after the slash is called the aspect ratio, which indicates how tall the sidewall is as a percentage of the tire’s width. Or in simpler words, it’s how thick the tire is. The larger the number, the thicker or taller the sidewall is. Most sedans and SUVs will have a sidewall around the 45 – 60 range or thicker. As for sports cars, they will normally be around 30 – 40, also known as low profile tires. These tires provide better handling and traction which is needed by sports cars. However, they are less comfortable and your wheels are more prone to bending since the tires are thinner.
Finally, the last number indicates the diameter of the wheel in inches. If you have 18-inch wheels, then your tires need to be R18. If you have 19-inch wheels, then your tires need to be R19 and so on. As for the “R” it indicates that it’s a radial tire, which virtually all of today’s tires are.
You can generally just choose tires that have the same size as your original ones. If you want more comfort, you can buy thicker tires instead. For example, if your original tires are 245/40-R18, then you can buy 245/50-R18 for better comfort. However, thicker tires usually mean more rolling resistance which costs more fuel and can make your car feel slower.
Tire Speed Rating
Tires have a speed rating which indicates how fast they can safely go for an extended period of time. Your car’s manufacturer will usually fit tires that have the appropriate speed rating according to how fast the car can actually go, so you should at least match that speed rating.
Speed ratings are expressed in letters ranging from L to Y on your tire’s sidewall. An L speed rating means the tires can only safely go at a maximum speed of 75mph. The highest speed rating is (Y), which means the tires can safely go over 186 mph. If for example, your original tire has a speed rating of H (130 mph), then you should buy new tires that match that speed rating.
Tire Load Index
Just before the speed rating, you will see a two-digit number on your tire sidewall. This indicates the load index, or how much weight a tire can support. For example, if it says 89H, then that means the tire has an H speed rating with a load index of 89 which can support up to 1,279 pounds. The higher the number, the more weight the tire can support. Make sure to match your new tires with the load index on your original tires and you will be fine.
Run-flat tires (RFT) are tires that are capable of driving for short distances at low speeds even when they’re deflated. This allows you to reach home or the nearest auto shop without having to change the flat tire. They can go anywhere between 10 to 50 miles depending on the type, but you can only drive them at reduced speeds, usually at a maximum of 56mph.
Some cars will come with RFT tires from the factory, and you can identify them by looking for the letter RFT on the side of your tires. You have the option to replace them with standard tires instead, but that does mean you will have to change to the spare wheel the next time you have a flat.
Run-flat tires are convenient but they are more expensive. They can be anywhere between 50 – 200 percent more expensive than an equivalent tire, making them an expensive purchase. Another argument against run-flats is that they tend to be a bit harsher and uncomfortable. Some people don’t mind this, but you might notice it and it can be quite annoying. However, if you want the peace of mind and convenience of not having to change to a spare wheel when you have a flat, then run-flat tires are worth the purchase.
Summer, Winter, or All-Season Tire?
You will have the option to choose between these three types of tires. If you live somewhere that’s dry all year long like Los Angeles, then summer tires are the way to go. They offer enough grip and are designed for dry weather conditions. Less grip from summer tires means less rolling resistance which means better fuel consumption as well.
If you live somewhere that snows, then you should consider winter or all-season tires depending on how often it snows. These tires offer a better grip than summer tires and make driving safer in slippery conditions.
H/T, A/T, and M/T
If you have an SUV, chances are your tires will have either H/T, A/T, or M/T written on it. H/T stands for Highway Terrain and is suitable for highway and normal road uses. They are also much quieter and comfortable compared to A/T and M/T tires, and you should just go for H/T tires if you don’t go offroading.
A/T stands for All-Terrain and M/T stands for Mud Terrain. They are both offroad tires and you should consider them if you often go offroading. A/T tires are generally the better all-rounded option, they’re also still quieter and more comfortable than M/T tires. However, since M/T tires have deeper grooves, they are better for dealing with mud and loose dirt. This makes them the more capable offroad tires. Mind you, M/T tires are often very loud on the road at high speeds and can be quite annoying.
Choosing the Right Tires
Now you know what all the numbers and letters mean, so how do you choose the right tire? Generally, just go with whatever the manufacturer fits your car with in the first place. They considered many things before they choose a tire, and chances are the tires that came as standard was picked because it went well with the car.
If you’re torn between budget and premium tires, then really this depends on how much cash you have at hand. If money is a bit tight, then there’s nothing wrong with going for the budget option. Chances are you won’t notice a big difference in terms of performance, and they last about as long as the premium options anyway. However, we’d like to note a couple of things.
If you have a performance car, then it’s generally a good idea to go for the premium tires. More power means the car needs more grip. Cheaping out on tires means you might not have the grip to handle your car’s power. Secondly, if you live somewhere that snows a lot, choosing premium winter tires isn’t a bad idea. They offer better grip and will make driving in slippery conditions a lot safer.
Don’t Forget to Read Reviews
If you’re still not sure about which tire should get or you’re torn between brands, you can read reviews online to help you decide. There are tons of reviews both from users and professional car journalists that might help you decide.
Maintaining Your Tires
Whether you patched your tires or buy new ones, here are some tips on how you should maintain your tires:
1. Check Tire Pressure Regularly
You should check your tires monthly as they can lose around 1 PSI per month. If your car has a tire pressure sensor, then you don’t even need any tools to do this. But even if you don’t it won’t take more than 5 minutes to check them.
Different cars with different tires will have different requirements, but it’s generally safe to have between 30 to 35 PSI of air inside your tires. If the pressure has gone down below 28 PSI, then fill it back up to the appropriate level. Check again in a couple of days and if the pressure has gone down drastically, then you might have a leak in that tire.
Keeping your tire pressure on the correct level will not only optimize driving but will also prevent uneven tire wear.
2. Rotate Your Tires
Speaking of uneven tire wear, you should rotate your tires every 6,000 miles or so. Your front tires will often wear out more quickly than your rear tires, by rotating them you can wear them evenly. This will also prolong your tire’s lifespan. Many auto shops offer a free tire rotation service. But even if they don’t it should cost you no more than $50 to have your tires rotated.
3. Don’t Overload Your Car
This one is simple enough, your car’s tires have a load rating. Loading your car with more weight than the tire can handle may cause tire failure.
4. Don’t Install Mismatched Tires
Mismatching tires can lead to uneven tire wear, and it can also impact your car’s handling. If your current tires are not in stock, then you should buy a pair of them, and ideally, you should install them at the rear.
5. Balance Your Tires
Balancing your tires will lead to equal weight and force distribution across the tire and wheel assembly. This eliminates vibration and makes driving smoother and will also eliminate uneven tire wear.
You should balance your tires around every 12,000 miles. Or if you experience steering wheel vibration when you drive, then you need a wheel balancing. If the problem persists then you have another issue that’s causing and you should check it.
Tire Patch Cost: In Conclusion…
A flat tire is never fun to deal with but thankfully tire patches are inexpensive. It should cost you no more than $40 to patch your tire and in most auto shops you will pay a lot less. You can also purchase your own tire patch kit if you don’t mind doing it yourself, but we wouldn’t recommend that.
That being said, in certain conditions you won’t be able to patch your tires and you will need to buy new ones. In which case, we hope we’ve helped you to make an informed decision.