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Lessons from plugging a hole

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POSTED: August 17, 2011 10:00 p.m.

I got all shook up seeing my nearly new tire cast out as if it had been worn out.
Tires cost a lot of money to replace. How about having to buy a new tire because of a simple hole?
How about just plugging the hole? Well, that’s all right if you are content with periodically inflating the tire.
The problem with a plugged tire is the lingering doubt about the tire being up to par when you get ready for a trip. You wake up in the morning at some motel, prepare to leave and then there it is – a flat tire. Actually, you probably were under the pretense that the problem had been solved.
Punching holes in tires can occur anywhere and when we least expect it. A tire for my van costs nearly $135. While driving around, I unknowingly ran over a 2-inch quarter-sized bolt, which stuck right through the tire.
Days later after driving some miles, the tire was still inflated. How did this freakish thing happen? 
The bolt evidently plugged the hole that it made in the tire, temporarily preventing the tire from leaking down. 
However, one morning the tire was as flat as a wet rag lying on the driveway. What topped it all was that I had driven on the tire so long that the head of the bolt was worn down and level with the tread.
I replaced the tire with the spare and drove to a place to have the tire plugged. Since that time, the tire was plugged two more times.
One may say that the job wasn’t done right. Even after having it plugged three times, it may have worked, providing I had kept an eye on it all the time. But therein lies the pain-in-the-neck problem.
How about just installing an inner tube? Well, that won’t work either. Most new tires are belted, tubeless and flex at every turn of the wheel, generating heat. With an inner tube, there is always friction due to the slight movement between the walls of the tube and the tire. However slight, it’s still friction. Friction of any kind causes a buildup of heat.
Eventually, the tire, with the inner tube, will gain so much heat that it will cause a blowout. Therefore, most tire experts caution against using an inner tube.
What can we do about this, especially when we have a new set of tires? We can do nothing but hope for the best. There are sharp, pointed objects lying everywhere – in every road and every driveway – just waiting for us.
How do we know that a tire on our vehicle has not already picked up such an object? It can be a delayed action waiting for that crucial moment when we don’t have time to deal with it.
It sounds like a deliberate attempt by some enemy of society that places mines in roads and driveways for us. Of course, that’s not the case; it’s just a freakish thing that occurs.
I once thought that when a tire has been plugged, you’re home free. But that’s not the case. In my experience, plugging a tire is a good example of insecurity.
When a tire has been plugged, there are no guarantees it will hold, and it will never be like the new, undamaged tire.
I theorize that the structure of the tire probably has been disturbed to the point where the damage is irreversible.
Therefore, replacing the nearly new tire was the only thing to do. Now, I can rest easy, but I’d better watch where I drive.

Bond lives in Richmond Hill and can be reached at fsb007@aol.com.

 

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