A hole or cut in the sidewall of a tire means the end of the tire, right? The same for a large or odd-shaper hole in the tread, right? Up until recently that has been the case. Modern technology has changed all that. With the right training, tools, materials, and expertise, almost any hole or slash in a tire can be repaired.
Upon visiting Northern Tire, in Colebrook, New Hampshire, I was amazed to see the results of current tire repair technology in use. The Laperle's, (father and son) operate a tire repair and retreading shop that is responsible for extending the life of tires previously thought beyond repair.
They can make a repair on a tire that will actually be stronger than the surrounding area. Cuts and slashes, even X-shaped slashes in passenger car tires can be repaired. The bigger the tire, the bigger the hole they can fix. Large heavy equipment tires can have a hole in them the size of your head, and still be patched reliably.
As they gave me a tour of their facility and described the repair process, it became apparent that this is an art as well as a science. The integrity of a repair is directly dependent on the skill and training of the person doing the repair. The damaged area has to be sculpted to accept the filler material. Then the filler material is applied. Depending on the location of the hole, one or two patches are applied to the inside of the tire. Two are applied in areas where the damage exposes the metal bands in the tire. Double patching prevents moisture from reaching the metal and rusting it.
After the filler material and patches are applied, the section of tire is placed in a heated press that vulcanizes the materials. If cosmetics is important, they can make the exterior of the tire look almost brand new.
If you have fairly new tires with damage, it may be worth considering having them repaired. You can ship them via UPS for 3 to 5 dollars. You can save some on shipping by strapping two tires together. Bear in mind the maximum weight allowed by UPS for one package is 75 pounds. (You pay the shipping both ways) The repair for an average 2 inch cut is around $18. With the cost of tires these days, if your damaged tire has over half its tread left, it's worth sending it to them.
Suppose you have a large expensive tire from a piece of heavy equipment with a hole or tear in the sidewall or tread. As you know replacing these tires is very expensive. The folks at Great Northern may be able to save the tire for a fraction of the cost of a new one. With off road tires they generally apply just one of their high tech patches. These will usually hold for the expected lifetime of the tire without using filler material.
Suppose you have an unrepairable blowout on one tire with the rest of your tires on the vehicle partially worn. Normally you're stuck with buying 4 new tires if you want a matched set. You must do this with some of the newer cars with some types of anti-lock braking. If the tires aren't worn approximately the same amount, the brakes won't work properly.
Northern Tire can save the day here. Often they can supply you with a repaired tire from their stock that will match your tread and wear. Contact them for more information. You'll be glad you did!
By the way, if you have a tire shop and want to learn this technology, please call Mr. Laperle. He's not adverse to teaching what he's learned through experience and from the training he's received.
By the way, this is not an advertisement. I believe very much in recycling and even better, repairing as much as possible. I have been doing the same in every way possible since long before it became "fashionable". It's just common sense to conserve of resources by getting the most use out of them.