If you have a flat tire, you can already start running the numbers on how much a new tire will cost. But the good news is that you can, most of the time, avoid the headache by patching the tire.
So how much does it cost to patch a tire? Well, it depends on a few different factors, and we’ll break that all down for you here. Not only that, but we will also highlight a few different options you have at your disposal!
Let’s get started!
How Much Does It Cost To Patch a Tire Yourself?
If you’re looking to patch a tire yourself, you can expect to spend about $10 to $20 for everything you need to get the job done. However, it’s important to note that this cost also includes the tools you’ll need, and they typically come with multiple patches.
That means while you’re spending $10 to $20 to patch your first tire, if you need to patch another tire down the road, you likely won’t need to spend anything.
Moreover, another advantage of patching your tire yourself compared to having a professional shop do it for you is that you can patch the tire as soon as you notice the problem.
You don’t have to worry about getting the tire to a repair shop, and you don’t have to worry about finding one that’s open when you need it. When you have everything you need to do the work yourself, you can patch the tire and move on with your day!
While many good kits out there come with everything you need to patch a tire, we recommend this one by Wokape.
It comes with spare valve stems, valve stem covers, a valve core removal tool, and 15 different tire patches. If you store this kit properly you shouldn’t ever need to pay for a tire patch again, and you drive down the cost per patch to well under $1.
Even better, it comes with other replacement parts you might need if different parts of your tire start to fail, making this a great all-in-one tire repair kit you can use for your vehicle.
How Much Does It Cost for a Shop To Patch Your Tire?
While you can expect to spend anywhere between $10 and $20 to patch your flat tire, that’s similar to the cost of having a professional shop do it for you.
Shops charge anywhere around that price range. For instance, Wal-Mart charges $14 for a flat tire repair. However, that is a cost per tire.
That means the cost to repair the first tire is almost identical if you ever need to patch another tire, so you’re going to save money by getting the kit that has everything you need to do it yourself.
But if you don’t feel like doing the work, you can expect to spend between $10 and $20 per tire to have a repair shop patch it for you.
How Do You Know if You Can Patch the Tire?
Just because you have a flat tire doesn’t mean you can automatically patch it instead of replacing it. Determining if you can patch a tire comes down to two things: the puncture’s size and the puncture’s location.
The first stipulation is that the hole needs to be smaller than one inch in diameter to consider patching it. Anything larger and the patch won’t hold or provide the tire the integrity it needs when you’re traveling down the road.
The second stipulation is that the hole cannot be on or near the tire’s sidewall. If any portion of the hole is within a ¼” of the sidewall, you can’t put a patch on it. The sidewall takes far more weight and pressure than the rest of the tire, and patching this area of the tire simply isn’t safe.
However, if you have a hole less than 1″ in diameter and it’s at least ¼” an inch away from the sidewall, you can plug and patch the tire instead of replacing it!
Also read: What to Do if You Have a Tire Blowout
Patching vs Plugging Tires
When you’re looking at repairing a flat tire, there are two options available for you. Plugging and patching holes in tires are the two most common fixes, and they both have their pros and cons.
We’ve highlighted patching tires in our guide here, and there’s no doubt that patching tires are the more effective solution. Tire patches should restore your tires to their original length, meaning you don’t have to worry about the patch failing when driving down the road.
However, installing tire patches on your own is much more challenging. You have to remove the tire from the wheel, and without any specialized equipment, this can be a laborious process.
The most common method people use to fix their own flat tires is tire plugs. That’s because, with a tire plug kit, you don’t have to remove the tire from the wheel, making it much easier to get the job done.
However, while the cost of a plug kit and a patch kit is similar, the main drawback of a plug compared to a patch is that a plug doesn’t last nearly as long. Typically a tire plug will last about 25,000 miles before it fails, and you end up with another flat tire.
How To Patch a Tire
Now that you know a little more about plugging and patching a tire, it’s time to figure out how you can do it for yourself! Of course, if you simply plan on taking your tire to a repair shop to have them do the work for you, then you can skip this part.
1. Find the Leak
Before doing anything, you need to find the leak and ensure you can patch it. Inflate the tire and spray it with soapy water. Look for bubbles, as this is a clear indication of where the leak is!
Once you find the leak, mark it so that you don’t lose it and have to find it all over again after repeating the next steps.
2. Remove the Tire
Once you find the leak, it’s time to take the tire off your vehicle. Jack up the vehicle, remove the lug nuts and take the tire and wheel off your vehicle.
3. Remove the Valve Stem and Object
Before you can separate the tire from the wheel, you need to deflate the tire, and the best way to do this is to remove the valve stem. You’ll need a specific tool to reach the valve stem; most patch kits come with this tool.
You can typically reuse the valve stem, but if you have extras, it’s never a bad idea to replace it while you have the old one off.
4. Separate the Tire and Wheel
Next, you need to separate the tire from the wheel. This is a labor-intensive process, and it all starts with breaking the bead. You need to press down hard on one area of the tire to break the bead. Typically this isn’t something you can do manually.
Then you’ll need to use a pry bar to raise one lip of the tire over the edge of the rim, work it around the entire tire, and then repeat the process with the lower portion of the tire.
It’s a pretty easy process with a tire machine, but it can be a pain to do this manually.
5. Install the Patch
Once you get the tire off the wheel, it’s time to install the patch. Follow the instructions that come with your particular kit to get the best possible results with the patch.
6. Let It Dry
Once you finish installing the patch, give it plenty of time to dry. You’re going to put a lot of pressure on it when you’re inflating the tire, and you want to ensure it stays in place throughout the entire process.
7. Put the Tire on the Wheel
Once the patch dries, it’s time to put the tire back on the wheel. Once again, this is easy with a tire machine. But while it’s certainly far more labor-intensive to do manually, it’s easier than getting the tire off the wheel. If you already got it off, you should have the strength to get it back on.
8. Inflate the Tire
Once the tire is back on the rim you need to inflate the tire again. You need an air compressor with enough air pressure to set the bead during this process. Keep your fingers clear while inflating the tire or else you risk pinching them between the tire and the wheel.
9. Reinstall It!
Once you reinflate the tire, it’s time to put it back on your vehicle! Put it on the vehicle, lower it, and torque the lug nuts and you’re good to go!
Now that you know all about patching and plugging tires, it’s up to you if you want to take it to a repair shop or try tackling the job yourself. Our recommendation is to do it yourself if you plan on plugging the tire but take it to a professional repair shop if you want a patch!