How much to fix a flat these days?

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Just went down and saw a flat on my front right tire ('95 Probe GT). They're original tires as I hardly drive the car. I've read that one shouldn't insert Gunk to fill the tire unless you need to get to a gas
station or tire shop to buy a new tire, as stations hate to repair anything with that stuff inside the rubber tube.
I've also read there are two methods - the patch and the plug.
Any comments and prices?
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Do you have a spare that you can drive on to the shop? If you have a discount tire near you they will patch the tire for you for free.
http://www.carforums.net/ Auto Forums
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Around here they (Discount Tire) are known as America's Tire, and free here too.
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Shoe Salesman wrote:

Sam's Club too, for members, obviously.
Rob
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Yes I do have the spare doughnut.
If you have a

Yes I do have the spare doughnut. Free?! Are you kidding? I haven't found a shop or gas station that will do for free yet! You're lucky if they offer you a cup of coffee! I have to pay 50 cents for air in the city!
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snipped-for-privacy@needagoodyear.com says...

Various Les Schwab stores I have been to also do it for free. No you don't have had to buy your tires there.
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I fixed mine with a two cent screw. Actually, the screw was free out of my junk bin, but it was stainless. I check it periodically to see if it's backing out, still good at 4k miless. The tire only has maybe 10k miles of life left.
JazzMan
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anything
I took one off my van a week or so ago and carried it to a local tire distributor (not Discount Tire), where they dismounted it and repaired from the inside. Charge was $7.50.
I have used the canned inflatant in the past to get to a tire shop, and they haven't complained BUT I always tell them up front.
I used to use the adhesive felt strips, and plugged the tires myself. It always worked perfectly and I never had any problems with the method. I noticed that those kits now carry a statement that these are for temporary repairs. I wouln't hesitate to use them if I needed them.
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snipped-for-privacy@needagoodyear.com says...

10-year old tires can be dangerous. Tires do age and get hard, losing traction, flexibility, and possibly developing small cracks that can leak. You may want to consider new tires, simply for safety reasons.
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Most important, the sidewall belting rots by way of those hairline cracks.
May easily blow out at an inopportune time.
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Ironically, my recommendation is the patch/plug. It is one large patch that has a conical rubber "plug" molded to the center and perpendicular to the patch surface. There is a disposable metal sheath over the plug section to aid in pulling it through the hole in the tread. The patch finally is drawn to the inside of the tire and seals in the conventional way (with the use of a tire buffer and vulcanizing cement).
I would have to assume that these free repairs at tire chain stores are of the plug variety. Plugs are great if you do them right. Patches are actually harder to get right and require dismantling the tire, but when done right they are very sound.
I would not want or expect any service for free, nor would I trust the quality of free work being performed. Additionally, I would never trust a tire chain store to do *anything* unless I new the mechanic personally and was comfortable with his abilities.
Toyota MDT in MO.
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wrote:

No, they are not, generally. From a liability standpoint no tire store I've been in for at least 10 years now will plug a tire. Years ago I used to get sidewall punctures plugged (I know, naughty naughty) because a patch will just roll off on a sidewall, but nobody does that anymore.
The auto parts places still sell plugging kits, and like the other poster said, I would have no qualms about using one.

It's not free, trust me.
I've got about 6 free flats repaired at the Les Schwab tire stores around here before. Twice that it's happened, the tire was leaking due to bead leaks, and they refused to remount the tire. I will grant that the tires were very old and the bead was coming apart, that is why it was leaking. But the upshot is of course that I ended up buying two brand new tires each time. And of course, one set was NOT purchased when the Les Schwab stores were having their 2 or 3 times a year sale. (fortunately, the other set was purchased during a sale, because that is when the tire went flat)
The reason tire stores fix flats for free is that they know that if they make this a company policy that word gets around, and over time people will start coming in for the free flat repairs, and a certain percentage of them will buy new tires. When you are standing in the lobby of a tire store on Monday morning when you decided to get the flat fixed on your way to work, and they come in and tell you the sidewall has a hole in it and their company policy is to not remount the tire, you pretty much are stuck.
And since every other tires store would act the same way in this scenario, you might as go to the one were they fix the flat for free, since if it is a simple puncture then they fix it and your on your way.

Where exactly do you buy tires?
Just about all tires sold around here ARE sold in tire chain stores! In fact the few independent tire dealers in this city make a living primariarly off selling used tires. I don't know where they get them but I would guess they buy them from the chain tire stores. Years ago there used to be more gas stations that were combination gas station/service stations that sold tires, but the last one of these in this area closed it's service bays and changed over to a mini-mart about 4 years ago. I used to buy gas from them all the time. Right after they did so I stopped in and asked them why and they told me their owner/mechanic died of old age, and the new owner couldn't find a new mechanic. (read between the lines - couldn't find a mechanic that would work cheap)
I would not buy tires from Walmart but that is mainly because I don't care for the company. But most other places that sell tires are chains, and all they do is sell tires. The people that work in them mount and dismount tires all day long, they certainly have more experience in tires than the average mechanic does.
Naturally, I would not advise people get brakes done in a tire store although many stores do this.
Ted
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I've had a tire plugged by a gas station in NJ (that also fixed cars and sold tires) as recently as a year ago. It definitely wasn't a patch, since they did it without removing the tire from the rim.
-Andrew
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message wrote:

They probably used the adhesive coated strips that we referred to earlier. Discount Tire used to swear that this was better than an internal patch because it excluded water from the hold. Water, and steel belts, didn't go well, according to company line at the time.
And, as I mentioned, I never had one go bad. Now, they won't work miracles... sidewall tears, enormous holes, etc should probably indicate a new tire anyway. But they have their place.
I am sure that Discount and others now use the internal patch plug. Whether it is any better, I will leave for others to argue.
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Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:

I buy them at a tire store and mount them myself. I mount them properly without any damage to the rim, and balance them to the closest tolerance the machine will allow, which in reality is better than 1/4 oz per plane -- and is displayed in .01" increments. The weights never fly off when I put them on either. Basically, I'm the only one that works on my family's cars for many reasons.
I certainly understand that the vast majority of folks don't even have access, let alone training or inclination to use tire equipment, but as I stated in the last post, *I* would never trust a chain store to mount my tires. Looking back on that post, I mispelled "knew". D'oh.
Toyota MDT in MO
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Around here it's $20 to fix a flat. And yes I've called around. That's why I fix them myself.
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"I certainly understand that the vast majority of folks don't even have access, let alone training or inclination to use tire equipment,"
How much does a tire balancing machine go for these days? Seems to me it would likely be out of the reach of your average shadetree mechanic.
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I've seen used tire mounting machines for under $500 but the biggest problem is the cost to move them, they are heavy and large. Also once you get them they consume a lot of space. I'd love to have one, but like a lift, you really need a dedicated garage work area for something like this.
Ted
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Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:

I use one of these, it's not very heavy duty but it gets me by. I've changed and patched maybe 20 tires using it. Of course the trick is to have it securly bolted down. It's all manual, and some old tires are very hard to break down. If you haven't ever busted tires I wouldn't recommend it, but if you have and know the tricks it works fairly well. http://order.harborfreight.com/EasyAsk/harborfreight/results.jsp I also balance my own tires, after backing off brake discs so they don't draq, put the wheel back on and let the wheel settle to the heavy side. Temp tack on some weights about 42 1/2 degrees apart until the tire doesn't settle at a heavy spot. I know it's not perfect, can't go much about 90mph using this method. For 7 to 9 bucks each you can have the tires balanced. Also one of those little air pumps that run off the cigarette lighter are in each of my vehicles, I don't have to use them often but they are cheap and very handy if I (or someone else) has a flat.
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When I was a young kid and cheap, I used to just do static balance on tires in the driveway. I got it pretty close. --scott
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