How to Ruin a Truck Tire

The importance of proper tire repairs cannot be overstated. Improper tire repair is the weak link of the tire industry.

I want to share a true story with you. A few years ago, a dear friend of mine - a high-ranking naval officer - was attending a semester at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. His family had accompanied him. When it came time to leave for his next posting, his wife and children left a few days ahead of him in the family car.

He borrowed a car to use in the meantime. The car was a new, top-of-the line, and very expensive Mercedes. As luck would have it, one of the tires on the borrowed car picked up a nail, leading to a flat.

My friend took the car to a local service station where he was told: "No problem. We can plug the tire and have you on your way in minutes." Sounded good to my friend, and sure enough, he was on his way after about five minutes and it only cost him five bucks for the plug.

I live very close to the Naval Postgraduate School, and my wife and I invited him to our home for dinner to say goodbye before he left town. During dinner, he proudly told us how he had handled the flat tire problem and that the tire was now as good as new.

I promptly went a little crazy and told him, in no uncertain words, that he would be returning the car to his friend with a time bomb built into the tire that had been plugged. I explained that the only way to properly repair a tire - any tire, car or truck - is to have it removed from the wheel and have the repair made from the inside by a trained professional.

He didn't believe me.

After talking myself blue in the face trying to convince him of the error of his ways, I excused myself and said I'd be back in a few minutes. Since my office is only a mile from my home, I quickly drove there and picked up the printed materials I would need to convince him that he really needed to have the tire repaired properly.

Returning home, I showed him the information and gave it to him to keep. Although slightly embarrassed at his stubbornness for not believing me, he was man enough to acknowledge that he made a mistake and that he would take the car to a tire professional I recommended and have the tire repaired properly. He did so the following day, and it became a story with a happy ending.

Now, back to how to ruin an expensive truck tire in ten minutes. Here's what to do: The next time you have a flat tire, have it plugged or, have it repaired by someone who is not a tire professional.

If you're lucky, you may not kill yourself or someone else when the tire fails, which it is bound to do. If you're not so lucky, well you know the rest of the story.

There are just two ways to repair a tire: the right way and the wrong way.

The only way to assure that you will protect both your investment and get back on the road safely when you have a flat tire is to have it repaired by a trained tire professional. He or she (there are many women repairing tires in our industry) will be certain to only repair the tire from the inside, following all the recommended steps from the tire repair material manufacturer.

A trained professional will not repair a tire unless they are satisfied that the tire is a candidate for being returned to full road service after being repaired.

There are a number of highly reputable tire repair material manufacturers, and they all offer excellent information at no cost that can help you better understand why a proper tire repair is so important.

All of these companies are members of the Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau (TRIB), and they have made their materials available to us for distribution to anyone who has an interest in doing the right thing when it comes to properly repairing a tire. In many cases, if your fleet or shop is large enough, these manufacturers will be happy to conduct a tire repair workshop for your people at your location.

Take advantage of our offer to send you this educational material. There is never a cost, and the savings you will make by learning about the difference between a proper tire repair and one that is not can save you a bundle, and maybe even your or someone else's life

To request TRIB's tire repair information packet, call our toll free number - 888-473-8732 - from anywhere in North America, or send an email to We will also include our new Understanding Retreading and Flat Tire! Now What? materials.

Harvey Brodsky is managing director of the Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau (TRIB), a position he has held since 1981. He is involved with promoting the use of retreaded tires both in the United States and many other parts of the world. Based in Pacific Grove, CA, TRIB is a non-profit, member-supported industry association dedicated to the safe recycling of tires through retreading and repairing, and to promoting proper tire maintenance for all tires. A part of the retreading industry since the early seventies, Brodsky is a well-known speaker at tire industry, government tire fleet and environmental meetings throughout the world, and has written numerous articles about retreading. He drives on retreads on both of his family cars, and has been doing so for more than 30 years.