Getting punctures is an irritating fact of motoring life. But car tyre repair is entirely legal – as long as the puncture is in specific places on the tyre. And if your tyre can be repaired legally, and it’s done by a reputable company, the repair may well be guaranteed for the life of the tyre. We look at when you can and can’t repair a tyre.
Where can you repair a tyre?
For the purposes of repair, a car tyre is split into two: an area for minor repair and one for major repair. The minor repair area covers three quarters of the central tread area. The major area is the rest of the tread plus the sidewall. You can repair a hole in the minor repair area. You can’t in the major part.
There’s a British standard governing where you can repair a puncture in a car tyre. Any company that suggests they repair it outside this is breaking the law. More importantly they’ll be leaving you with an illegal tyre.
When can you repair a tyre?
The size of the damage to the tyre also has an impact on whether it can be repaired or not. The regulations say a hole with a diameter that’s bigger than 6mm can’t be repaired. That means punctures caused by screws and nails can be fixed. Those caused by bigger bits of debris such as metal or sharp stones my not be.
Check the speed rating
Tyres can be repaired more than once. However, tyres that have a speed rating of V or above (for performance cars) can only be repaired once.
Why can’t you do repairs anywhere else?
When you’re cornering in a car, an awful lot of force goes through the sidewall. When a tyre is repaired, the puncture is cleaned up using an air drill. This enables the hole to be plugged safely and a lasting bond to be made between the repair and the tyre.
However, the air drill could well damage the tyre’s structure if it’s used anywhere outside the minor repair area.
How can you help a tyre to be repaired?
When you notice a puncture, it’s important that you stop driving on it as soon as safely possible (assuming you’re not on run-flat tyres). Driving on a non run-flat tyre that doesn’t have sufficient air in it damages the construction of the tyre’s sidewall.
Even if your puncture is in the minor repair area, the technician may say it’s unrepairable if the sidewall has been badly damaged as a result of driving on it.
When else can’t a tyre be repaired?
If a tyre is on or below its 1.6mm legal minimum tread depth, it won’t be repaired. Equally, if the tyre’s cords (the bits that give the rubber its strength) are exposed in any way, or the tyre has lumps in its side wall, it won’t be repaired either.
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.