Question: I got a flat tire last weekend in Chicago and had to use a shop there to repair it. The cost was $40! Why was the repair so much? I remember paying $10 for a tire patch. —All Out of Air, Evanston
Here’s why it costs more to have a tire repaired than it used to
Answer: In the Good ‘Ole Days, patching a tire was a 10-minute task. We plugged it from the outside, and it was a quick and easy repair.
But for safety reasons on today’s tires, the Rubber Manufacturers Association and tire manufacturers require a plug-patch repair. First, a rubber stem (a.k.a. a plug) must be applied to fill the puncture, and second, a patch must be applied to seal the inner liner. A plug by itself is not an acceptable nor safe repair.
Repairing tires this way properly and safely seals the puncture on both the inside and outside. But it also means we have to remove the tire from the rim to access the damaged area. As you can imagine, this involves a lot more steps—and time—than it used to. (If you like a good technical read before bedtime, you can check out the Rubber Manufacturers Association Puncture Repair Procedures here.)
To repair a tire today, we need to:
CARS of America has the tire mounting equipment required to mount tires on alloy wheels without scratching them.
- Use a tire machine to remove the tire from the wheel.
- Clean and prep the area around the puncture.
- Apply the tire plug from the inside.
- Remount the tire on the wheel—just like you have done when you buy a new tire.
- Rebalance the tire & wheel—also, what you have done when you buy a new tire.
So what used to be a 10-minute tire patching job is now a multi-step process that takes at least 30 minutes. And if you have alloy wheels, the auto repair or tire shop needs to have special tire mounting and balancing equipment that doesn’t damage the wheels. These two pieces of equipment cost about $25,000.
While $40 may seem like a lot for a tire repair, it’s the result of all the above. I hope this helps you understand why it costs more than it used to. The good news is that you were able to salvage your tire. A client of ours recently had a nail in a tire and had to replace all four tires because she has an all-wheel drive vehicle. But that is a blog post for another day.
Have questions about tires or tire repairs? Contact us today.