Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tubeless tyres and punctures

For a self proclaimed geek, I don't know too much about cars. The proof - I did not know that my Ritz Vxi has tubeless tyres. No one told me so, but I don't think that's a good enough excuse. Anyway, the point is that I kept noticing that the air presure in the front tyre got low very fast (from 33 psi to 20 psi in 2 weeks). Then one day, the petrol pump attendant advised me to check for a puncture and sure enough, a long nail was embedded in the tyre. Got it pulled out and all was well.

For everyone's benefit, I am sharing the collective wisdom I have gathered from the Net about tubeless tyre punctures

1. The puncture may not be visible. In some cases, a nail may enter the tire and 'seal' the puncture itself, therefore slowing down the leakage of air. This is what happened in my case
2. The only indicator is the rate of loss of air pressure. In extreme cases, this may be a large figure (down to 20 psi in two days after refilling air), or it may be a slow loss (5-6 psi in 2 weeks). Some drivers may notice a 'drag' in the steering towards the tyre which is punctured. If you have a doubt, get it checked ASAP. Slow deflation is the norm with tubeless tyres. I have driven my car for 3-4 weeks with the puncture!
3. While tubeless tyres do not need as frequent air refills as regular ones, it's a good practice to check the air regularly. I check once in 2 weeks.
4. Leakage from the wheel rim is also a possible cause of pressure loss. This is not the same as a puncture, and the only solution is to replace the tyre or to live with frequent refilling.
5. The way to check a puncture is to inflate the tyre and dip it in water.
6. As you would already know, the roadside tyre repair guy cannot properly repair a tubeless tyre. Ideally, take  the puncture to your authorised service centre, or to a specialised tyre repair outlet. Improper repair can further damage the tyre. You can also buy a tubeless tyre repair kit and fix it yourself.
7. Carwale has a useful suggestion for long-distance travellers. Buy a spare tube and a plug puncture repair kit. Just in case you cannot find someone to repair your tyre, you can insert the tube into it and use it as a regular tyre for the rest of the journey.