Four Touring - Fixed my first flat on the road yesterday

Discussion in 'Gen 4 Prius Main Forum' started by texasdiver, Apr 14, 2018.

  1. texasdiver

    texasdiver Member

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    I bought my Four Touring in Sep 2016 and have put about 26,000 miles of mostly highway commuting on it since then. My one big reservation about this car was the lack of a spare tire. I've read the threads about retrofitting a spare with interest but never actually pulled the trigger on buying a donut spare to toss in the back.

    What I did to is take a look at the tiny compressor and goo kit that came with the car and said, no thanks. I can do better. I already had a Masterflo Tsunami portable compressor that I used to carry in the Highlander when towing a camping trailer to be able to air up tires on road trips.
    It is great little portable compressor that has about 10x the flow rate of what came with the Prius. You simply can't get any kind of portable compressor designed to run off the cigarette lighter outlet because those 12 volt circuits have way too low of current capacity and you'll blow fuses if you try to run anything big. So you have to get a compressor like the Tsunami that has alligator clips for attaching directly to the battery.

    The other thing I bought was a real tire repair kit. This one in fact:
    which I keep in a tool bag together with the compressor in the back of the car.

    In any event, I noticed the tire pressure warning light come on when I was driving my daughter to soccer practice last night. When we pulled into the school parking lot the tire was completely flat. I pulled it off the car, nervous of what I would find and there was a big hole on the tread that looked like something a large framing nail would make. I'm guessing I hit a nail driving through the many construction zones around here and it finally flew out at some point. So I pulled out my repair kit, followed the instructions to ream the hole and install the plug. Then pumped the tire back up. 24 hours later the plug appears to still be holding so I'm happy about that. Hasn't lost a drop of air. The Tsunami compressor also pumped those low profile tires up to 35 psi in about 1 minute. Very fast. Took me exactly 25 minutes to jack the car, pull the tire off, patch it, inflate it back up, and re-mount it back on the car. And I wasn't really hurrying. Honestly not really any more time than it would have taken to pull out a spare.

    So the compressor and professional patch kit turned out to be an exceptionally good purchase for this car. I'm extremely glad I had them with and didn't have to coat the tire with a temporary goo patch that might or might not of held up and certainly would have made me nervious about going to work this morning. I don't have time to mess around going to tire shops during the week days.

    Those of you guys who are reasonably handy and have one of these Priuses that lack spares? I would highly recommend purchasing a good after market high capacity compressor and a professional grade tire patch kit. Extremely worth the money if you can fix just one flat yourself.
     
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  2. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    Good going!

    I've got one of our OEM tires and one snow plug repaired now, both at least 3 years post repair and still fine.

    You're good to remove tire for the plug repair: even though it's more work it makes it a lot easier to do the repair.

    I make do with a half-decent bicycle pump, it's a bit of exercise to air up a completely flat tire, but you get there.
     
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  3. steuermann

    steuermann Junior Member

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    Hi texasdiver,
    a new compressor and a tire repair kit were my first buys, when I got my new gen. 4 Prius end of January this year. It's good to hear that you have been successfully using similar equipment. I would have prefered a doughnut tire, but it is extremely expensive over here.
    Have a nice weekend and always safe road trips and texasdiving
    Mike
     
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  4. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Has anybody got experience with the mushroom-insertion style of plug repair kits?

    There seem to be two main flavors going around. One is this kind, which uses vulcanizing cement, and the other is this kind, which doesn't.

    The first kind, for a bit more money, includes an 8 ounce can of heptane/latex vulcanizing yuck in the kit, and also uses mushroom plugs that are coated in some kind of orange reactive goo.

    The second kind comes with no can of yuck and plain black rubber plugs, apparently counting on them to stay put just because of their shape.

    There's a video demonstrating the first kind:



    -Chap
     
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  5. texasdiver

    texasdiver Member

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    I don't know about those mushroom type plugs. The process is similar to the simple plug that I installed with simpler tools. Presumably they work fine but might be overkill for an emergency kit that you might never use. The machine looks pretty expensive and professional.

    For all these plug systems it is basically the same process.

    Step 1, Remove the item (nail, screw, wire, etc.) for that process it is probably good to make sure you have a good pair of needle nose pliers.

    Step 2. Ream out the hole with a reaming tool which is supposed to also push the steel belt wires out of the way so they don't snag and tear the plugs when inserted.

    Step 3: Insert the rubber plug with some kind of applicator tool. Mine is just a simple slotted push rod and the plugs are these sticky rubber adhesive strings that you push in and then trim off flush with the tread.

    Seems to work. It is the same basic approach used by the tire repair shops except they have fancier tools because they are doing it all day long. I was happy with how easy it was to do and the tire is still holding air.
     
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  6. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    I think the tire shops have moved to dismounting the tire, and putting in combined plug/patch from the inside. I'm not sure, but I believe there's tightening reg's. against them doing simple plug repair. The newer methods are unarguably superior, but:

    1. Beyond the scope of a DIY'r, less convenient.
    2. Not usable within an inch of tread edge.

    My plug repairs were the traditional type, a tacky cord pushed through and snipped off.
     
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  7. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    That's my understanding too: the Tire Industry Association has pretty strict guidelines.

    I'm not sure the second point is specific to any newer methods ... I don't think anybody's saying you get to use a gooped string within an inch of the edge either.

    One thing they seem more concerned about now is to not only keep the air in, but to fully seal off the borders of the puncture the whole way through the tire, so water can't work its way into the interfaces between the rubber and belt plies.

    That seems to be part of the point of the newer materials with a rubber stem fat enough to fully fill the injury. (The kind they can pull through from the inside when the tire's dismounted are even bigger and more mushroomy.)

    I think the Tire Industry Association is always going to maintain that you should have the tire dismounted within a short time from any on-road repair, and inspected and done over right. They may say within 100 miles or something like that, but when I think of the number of times I travel long distances during non-business hours, I might like to have something I'd feel confident in for at least a smidge longer than that.

    -Chap
     
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  8. texasdiver

    texasdiver Member

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    I guess I'm out of date. Last time I actually watched the discount tire guys repair a tire they were just putting in plugs. But that was years ago.

    Now that I've read up on the subject I'm debating whether to eventually take the tire into Costco or a tire center and have my self-installed plug replaced with the newer plug and patch from the inside. I'm not sure how long I'm going to keep these OEM Yokohama tires. They are already about 1/2 worn out and I commute daily on wet freeways. So I might just move up the tire replacement.
     
    #8 texasdiver, Apr 14, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
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  9. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    Yeah, agree with all your points. Still, 4~5 years on, my plug repairs look like I've caught a piece of chewing gum in the tread, and appear to have completely amalgamated. Knock on wood...

    The first one, on one of the OEM tires, the dealership looked at it, said it was too close to tread edge, about 3/4". It was a tiny finishing nail, embedded in the tread, a slow leaker. I used one of the smaller diameter plugs in the kit I bought (BlackJack).

    Second time was a snow tire, and a more substantial bolt in the tread, about the same distance from the edge. Same drill, with the larger diameter plug.

    I've done at least two more (losing track) repairs on our son's car, no problems. Believe all those tires have been replaced by now.
     
    #9 Mendel Leisk, Apr 14, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
  10. alanclarkeau

    alanclarkeau Senior Member

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    The tyre shops always take the tyre off here and plug from inside - though 2 yrs since I've had one repaired.
     
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  11. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Straight from the stranger-than-fiction department....

    Remember how, back in April, I was deliberating whether to buy one of these mushroom-plug kits? I even had a rationale for it:

    And then, life being the way it is, I didn't get around to actually buying one, before going on a 1200 mile round trip I make once or twice a year. Always uneventfully, until this time, when somebody seemed to have lost the hook to one of those rubber load-securing straps on eastbound US-35, and sure enough, I collected it:

    hyookuh.jpg

    The sound of somebody's rubber strap hook whanging around the wheel well fifteen times a second is a real proper racket. Amazingly, the only damage it did (besides to the tire) was to tear the plastic clip out of the little air dam at the front edge of the wheel well. And I happened to have a spare clip that size.

    What I didn't have was the plugger I had thought of buying, and I was about 200 miles into a 600 mile trip, after hours, on July 3rd. I ended up putting on the donut spare and driving back about 20 minutes the wrong way to a Walmart, where I camped in the parking lot until their tire operation opened on the morning of the 4th. (As far as I could learn, they had the only tire operation in that town that opened on the 4th at all.) They don't carry the model that matches my other 3, so I had them put on the cheapest store-brand they had in my size, and made it to my destination about 18 hours late, and now that I'm back home, I can go measure my tread depth on the other 3 and decide if it's feasible to have TireRack send me one replacement tire shaved to match.

    It's possible the plugger kit could have saved a great lot of hassle. I now think I really will buy one, even though that surely guarantees I'll never have a need for it again.

    One upside was I discovered a pretty cool place to get coffee in Xenia, Ohio.

    -Chap
     
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  12. kithmo

    kithmo Couch Potato

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    #12 kithmo, Jul 14, 2018
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  13. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Agreed. In this case, had I been equipped to plug it immediately at the side of the road where I pulled off, I would have felt comfortable plugging it because it had still not lost enough air to be visibly low. I still would have had it dismounted and checked, but maybe on July 5th when I would have been where I was supposed to be and more shops would have been open.

    -Chap
     
  14. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    I'm now thinking I probably won't go that route, as my existing ones turn out to be closer to half gone than the one-third gone I was expecting.

    -Chap
     
  15. padroo

    padroo Senior Member

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    When I plug tires at home I use my cordless drill to ream out the hole and don't remove the tire and if I can get to it I don't jack the car up, it's the safest way.

    I carry a heavy duty plug kit from Amazon and I have my aftermarket wheels on this summer with the goofy lug nuts that need a special socket to install attached to my torque wrench.

    Tuner Lug Nuts spline drive, anyone ever use them?
     
    #15 padroo, Jul 15, 2018
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  16. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    #16 ChapmanF, Aug 17, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
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  17. padroo

    padroo Senior Member

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  18. Smaug1

    Smaug1 Member

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    The plug kit in the original post is a good buy. I carry a similar (but more compact) one on my motorcycle. I'd rather drive on a plugged original tire than a doughnut spare. If done properly, that plug is good for the life of the tire and there are no speed or handling limits, like on doughnut spares.

    The mushroom plugger kits are expensive enough that I decided to go with the good old "gooey rope" kit instead.

    The nice compressor is a "nice to have" item. The stock one will get the job done while taking up less space and adding less weight. Or a bike pump, as a previous poster mentioned. Then, you don't even need to plug it in; you just need to sweat. ;)

    However, no matter how good the patch kit, it still pays to have a doughnut spare. Some tire failures can't be fixed. (anything involving the sidewall or a bent rim.

    The goo kits, I don't like. They make a huge mess inside the wheel.

    Here's a tip that cut the frequency of my flat tires WAY down: When you go to a home improvement store like Home Depot, park in the VERY back of the lot. The contractors' trucks are forever dropping screws and nails, and if you park in the very back, you're less likely to pick them up in your tires. I haven't had a flat in 6 years, since I started doing that.
     
  19. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    I plugged one of the OEM tires about 5 years back, it's still on the car. Same thing for one of the snow tires.

    Our nearby home repair place was storing some sort of lumber bundles at one back corner, they had covers that were held on with long staples driven through a coin-sized plastic disk. There's always a few of those gizmos lying in wait...
     
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