Punctures are an annoyingly common issue for most road users and if you’ve bought a new car recently you may not have a spare tyre taking up boot space. In a bid to make vehicles more efficient, manufacturers are now opting to add puncture repair kits in their place.
Around a third of new models do not feature any sort of spare, while the majority of those that do have a space-saver instead of full-size replacement. But motoring boffins are now warning the kits, which aim to give you enough tyre pressure to safely reach a nearby garage, can actually damage other parts and leave you with a hefty and unexpected bill.
MotorEasy CEO and founder, Duncan McClure Fisher said: “Puncture repair kits provide a quick and easy way to get yourself back on the road and they can come in very handy in an emergency. But it’s important to know exactly how to use them effectively because they can end up doing more harm than good if used incorrectly. Sometimes the sealant supplied, either in liquid or foam form, can damage tyres beyond repair if it’s not compatible with your tyre. It’s not just the tyre that might need replacing as a result of using these kits, many new cars are fitted with tyre pressure sensors which are located directly next to the valve you insert the sealant into. If the sealant finds its way into the sensor, it's near impossible to remove and you could end up forking out for the cost of a new sensor as well as a new tyre – a disappointing double-whammy.”
The sealant, which often contains viscous liquid ethanediol, is inserted via the valve using a pressurised canister. The substance is then transferred around the tyre to block the area where air is escaping. It’s a quick and easy solution to being stuck on the hard shoulder – but there are some disadvantages to be aware of. Some punctured tyres can be repaired by a mechanic. However, using a repair kit can compromise the fix even further, resulting in a new tyre being necessary. It’s also important to be aware that sometimes repair kits are not enough, such as in the case of a severe rip.
Duncan McClure Fisher added: “We would recommend calling a breakdown service to get you moving again, and only use a puncture repair kit if it’s really necessary. While most car manufacturers supply a puncture repair kit as standard on new cars, you can request a spare tyre when purchasing. You can also take out tyre insurance to protect yourself from any hefty costs. Getting a puncture is one of life’s unfortunate realities, but ensuring your tyres are in good condition and maintaining the correct pressure can help minimise the risk.”