Feeling a little deflated and flat
Having spent over 30 years of my working life in the motor industry, I recent realised I am still learning how even the most basic things can develop and change. Whilst driving last weekend, my car displayed a low tyre pressure warning. After finding a place to pull over and check, I could immediately see my offside rear tyre was virtually flat. My car has no spare wheel and instead, provides an emergency re-inflation kit. The kit consists of a chemical fluid which is pumped into the tyre, which when swirled around whilst driving a few feet - finds the puncture and seals it temporarily. The second part of the kit is a small electric pump to re-inflate the tyre. The whole process took less than 10 minutes, required no jacking or wheel changing and was generally a clean and simple process which certainly beats changing a wheel. The emergency re-inflation kit does warn the repair is temporary and recommend locating and driving to the nearest tyre repairer/retailer for a more permanent solution. This is the point at which I learned something new. I drove to four nearby tyre centres, only to be told, without exception, that because the re-inflation chemicals had been used, the tyre was no longer repairable and my only option was to buy a replacement tyre. I had previously heard that some tyre retailers were resistant to repairs, preferring to sell a new tyre and make a little more profit, but didn't realise how rare they are or why.
It turns out that re-inflation fluids can be damaging to the internal structure of a tyre due to it's chemical 'welding and bonding' that is required to plug small holes. Understandably, tyre fitters/repairers are not prepared to manually remove the chemical and clean the internal tyre wall before attempting a puncture repair - and often the chemical has temporarily sealed the puncture making it harder for the repairer to find the puncture. So what I expected to be a £25 puncture repair, cost £175 for a new tyre, plus a further £35 to replace the now spent re-inflation kit. This experience left me feeling positive about the ease of overcoming a puncture at the roadside using the re-inflation kits - but also regret for not taking out Tyre Insurance when it was offered to me. If a new tyre is required every time I get a puncture and the result will be a £210 unforeseen expense instead of £25 - this is one technological development that only favours the motor manufacturers and tyre retailers. Quick tip. Next time you buy a car that you think has low cost repairable tyres, think again about Tyre Insurance. Checking the prices on this website (www.car2cover.co.uk) Tyre Insurance looks like a no brainer but it's too late for me because it can only be purchased within 30 days after taking delivery the vehicle.