Gear: Puncture Repair Kit Buyers Guide

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Words by Andrew Middleton

We’ve all been there, stuck on the roadside and in need of a quick fix. Most 4×4 drivers carry compressors, so a repair kit may save you changing a tyre − but do you know that not all repair kits are created equal?

We can speak from personal experience: poor-quality kits simply don’t work. In this quick guide, we compare the pricing and features of a list of kits from most of the premium brands, where you expect the quality to be at a high level. This is an important purchase, and while it is not the most expensive outlay you will make in preparing your rig for overlanding, there are a couple of things you should remember.

Firstly, be sure that the kit you’re using has sturdy components. The handles of the insertion tool should ideally be aluminium, and the split shaft very robust – those iffy plastic handles and thin spikes don’t work for too long. The same goes for the reamer used to make the hole sized to fit a plug, and to roughen the rubber enough to create plenty of purchase/grip.

You want to have a good selection of various sizes of quality plug. The cheaper bonded cord disintegrates quickly, causing leaks. You might consider purchasing a few of the thicker, heavy-duty ones which are used to repair large truck and tractor tyres. (Ask at your local tyre-repair shop). In addition, getting a few more to add to your kit won’t hurt, especially if you’re the only person on the expedition who has remembered to bring a puncture remedy…

Lastly, you will need a sharp knife or NT cutter and the all-important vulcanising glue. Check at regular intervals to see that this has not dried out, and replace if necessary.

As off-road tyres are much tougher to penetrate than standard sedan tyres, a normal puncture repair kit may be inadequate. Be sure that you have the right kit for the job.

Most of the kits featured here have a selection of tyre deflators, extra valves and pressure gauges – all useful, and in one place when you need them.


Quick Guide to plugging a tubeless tyre

Plugging-step1

Locate the object that caused the puncture (if it’s still there). Remove the offending nail, thorn, etc.

Plugging-step2

Put a few drops of rubber cement on the reamer and insert it into the hole. Work it in and out a few times to make sure that the hole is clean. This process will also enlarge the hole so that the plug will fit.

 
Plugging-step3

Roll the plug into the centre of the needle-eye of the insertion tool, apply a few drops of rubber cement.

Plugging-step4

Push the insertion tool into the hole. Make sure to leave 1cm of plug exposed and sticking out of the tyre.

 
Plugging-step5

Give the insertion tool a quarter-turn and remove it briskly from the tyre.

Plugging-step6

Cut off the end of the exposed plug with a sharp knife or cutter, leaving about ½ cm exposed.

 
Plugging-step7

Inflate the tyre, and check for leaks by pouring liquid over the hole while looking for bubbles.

Plugging-step8

The vehicle can be driven immediately, and should be safe to use until you get to a tyre shop and install a mushroom plug for a permanent repair.


What about the sidewalls?

For me to recommend plugging a sidewall puncture would be ridiculous, and doing so is certainly not safe. But, in certain situations, plugging a sidewall may be your only way home. On two occasions in the Tankwa Karoo, once in a VW Touareg (which has no spare as standard) and once in a Fortuner, I lost a sidewall without the option of fitting a spare. Because the Touareg has paper-thin sidewalls, the plugs kept coming out − and by the time I got home, 150km later, I’d stopped 18 times and used about 60 plugs. By the end of the trip, the tyre had a hole in the sidewall so large that it took six plugs doubled up to seal the hole. The Fortuner’s front Bridgestone D693 III suffered a similar fate, and also needed six plugs to stop the leak. Here, I improvised with superglue and hot-melt glue to help gum up the gash, as I had run out of rubber cement.

The moral of the story is that, if you have a sidewall puncture, plugging it is sometimes possible − but be sure not to drive over 60km/h, and then replace the tyre with a new one as soon as possible. Tyres with sidewall gashes must be thrown away; they cannot be safely repaired.

Puncture Kit Selection


ARB Speedy Seal Puncture Repair Kit

Price: R795

 

ARB Speedy Seal

 

 

As is expected of ARB, their puncture repair kit is of extremely high quality and uses only the best plugs. Adding extra valve accessories is a good idea, in case you damage the valve when deflating tyres for off-road use. Spare cords can be bought in packs of 50 from 4×4 Megaworld

In the box:
1. Alloy T-handle reamer and insertion tool
2. Lubricant for easier tool insertion
3. Additional accessories
4. 30 self-vulcanising repair cords for complete air sealing
5. Allen keys
6. Pencil-type tyre pressure gauge
7. Valve core tool, spare valves and valve caps
8. Tube of vulcanising adhesive
9. Hard carry case

Available from 4×4 Megaworld

Tel : 011 454 2875

Website: www.4x4megaworld.co.za


Ironman 4×4 Tyre Repair Kit

Price: R695

 

Ironman4x4

 

 

Much like the ARB kit, Ironman’s kit is very well made and will work for any large 4×4 tyre. The useful addition of a digital pressure gauge and high-quality tooling gives the Ironman kit an edge in the market. Ironman also stocks spare cords so that your puncture repair kit will last you many years.

In the box:
1. 30 self-vulcanising repair cords
2. Alloy T-handle spiral probe tool (reamer)
3. Alloy T-handle eyelet insertion tool
4. Allen keys
5. Hard carry case
6. Tube of vulcanising adhesive
7. Digital tyre gauge

Available from Ironman 4×4

Tel : 011 634 7770

Website: www.ironman4x4.co.za


Trailboss 45pc Tyre Repair Kit

Price: R495

 

Trailboss

 

 

The Trail Boss kit offers excellent value, thanks to many added accessories, while component quality remains good.

In the box:
1. Alloy T-handle eyelet insertion tool
2. Alloy T-handle spiral probe tool (reamer)
3. 20 self-vulcanising plugs
4. Digital tyre gauge with light
5. 4-way valve stem tool
6. 1-3/4-inch plastic valve extension caps
7. 4 standard valve cores
8. 4 brass hex valve caps
9. 4 plastic valve caps
10. L-type hex tool
11. Lubricant
12. Knife
13. Carry case
14. Double head valve core tool for standard and large bore

Available from Outdoor Warehouse

Tel : 0800 007 261

Website: www.outdoorwarehouse.co.za


Off-Grid Tyre Repair Kit

Price: R395

 

Off-grid

 

 

The Off Grid puncture repair kit covers all the bases and offers an extremely competitive price – lower than any of its rivals. Quality is still high despite this, although the accuracy of pencil-type pressure gauges has been queried in the past.

In the box:
1. Alloy T-Handle eyelet insertion tool
2. Alloy T-Handle spiral probe tool
3. 30 self-vulcanising plugs
4. Pencil-type pressure gauge
5. 4-way valve stem tool
6. Standard valve cores
7. 4 Alloy hex valve caps
8. 4 Plastic valve caps
9. 4 Plastic valve extension caps
10. Allen key
11. Lube and vulcanising adhesive

Available from Safari Centre

Tel : 021 595 3910

Website: www.safaricentre.co.za

 
 
 

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