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Is it safe to have a punctured car tyre repaired?

As sure as the leaves fall from the trees in the autumn, there’s debris all over Britain’s roads at this time of the year and potholes are lurking around every corner.

James Mills
Written by James Mills
Edited on
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If your car suffers a puncture because of striking debris, then the good news is that more often than not, experts say that punctures can be repaired. And we know what you’re thinking: Excellent; that’ll save me a few quid. But as always, there are right ways and wrong ways to go about it.

It’s legal to repair a punctured car tyre, so long as the work is performed following British Standard BS AU 159. The British Tyre Manufacturers Association says tyre fitters must follow this standard in order to determine whether a repair will be safe and adhere to the guidelines to ensure a lasting fix.

Any tyre repaired this way is able to operate at its original speed and load capabilities for the remaining lifetime of the tyre. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe and save a few bob.


Top 6 signs of a slow puncture

  1. The steering wheel or back of the car is vibrating
  2. Car is pulling to one side of the road
  3. There’s an unusual clicking sound as the tyre rotates
  4. One of the tyres looks flatter than the others
  5. You checked your car’s tyre pressures and one is lower than the others
  6. The car’s tyre pressure monitoring system has issued a warning


Puncture repair guidelines

Puncture repairs are defined by rules set out by British Standard BS AU 159. Depending on the width of the tyre, puncture repairs for cars and vans are only permitted in the central 60 to 70 per cent of the tread area.

The maximum diameter of the hole left by the puncturing object is limited to 6mm. This means a tyre damaged by a screw, nail or other sharp objects can usually be safely repaired. But note that any additional repairs must not overlap one another.

The sidewall is load bearing, so can’t be repaired, as the strength of the tyre’s fundamental structure would have been compromised by damage in this area.


My tyre was damaged by a pothole: can it be repaired?

Bad news. The type of damage most often inflicted by the nation’s plague of potholes is usually different to a having a screw or nail pierce a tyre. It means the hole tends to be greater than 6mm across, which means it’s not safe to repair.


Why it pays to keep a tyre pressure gauge in your car

Kicking your tyres and guessing whether there’s a problem such as a slow puncture is not how to keep yourself – and passengers and other road users – safe.

Pressure gauge measuring quality of repaired punctured tyre

By investing in an air pressure gauge, you can quickly and conveniently check whether any of your car’s tyres is below the pressure level recommended by the car maker. If it is, inflating it to the correct level and checking again in a short space of time will reveal whether there’s a lasting problem.

Tyre pressure gauges can be bought with a tread depth indicator, from around £10. See the best of the bunch in this review


What to do if you get a puncture when driving

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM Roadsmart) offers the following tips for motorists to help them stay safe if their car suffers a puncture when driving.

  • If your car alerts you to a puncture or you sense a tyre is flat, where possible pull off the road to a safe area.
  • It’s not safe to continue your journey when a tyre has a puncture
  • Activate your hazard warning lights to warn other traffic.
  • If you have to stop on a road, place your warning triangle at least 45 metres behind your vehicle, but not on a motorway.
  • Avoid changing your wheels on the hard shoulder of a motorway. If you have a puncture on a motorway, use the emergency phones to contact the motorway control room and they will send assistance to protect the area if required. Or arrange for your breakdown recovery organisation to assist you


Need to change a tyre? Watch as the RAC explains how to do it



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