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UKoffroad Expedition Guide: Puncture Repair and Tyre Changing
Information on this page is intended for 4x4 expeditions to remote areas. It is not intended for use in the UK - where a mobile phone can influence whether a mobile tyre fitting service or pizza delivery arrives first!

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Expeditions to stony desert, rocky or thorny areas, to name a few, may require more than one spare wheel and tyre. It may become necessary to replace a tyre and/or repair a puncture yourself.
The manufacturer's jack is rarely suited to expedition use and a small hydraulic jack together with a ratchet type Hi-Lift jack (Farm Jack) is an ideal combination.

Tubeless Radial tyres:
Punctures should only be repaired in the tread area which is normally in contact with the ground. Sidewall damage is not repairable. A tubeless tyre repair kit can be easily used to repair a hole upto 1/4in dia. A typical kit consists of some cord, adhesive and a bradawl type needle. Procedure: dip the needle in the adhesive and push it carefully through the puncture. Remove it and thread the cord through the needle, leaving about an inch on the short side. Dip the needle and cord in the adhesive again and push it through the puncture so that the short end of the cord is completly inside the tyre. Remove the needle and trim the excess cord to about 1/8in. Pump up the tyre.
If the tyre leaks air around the rim then remove the valve core with the tool from your tyre maintenance kit and inject some tyre sealant according to the instructions on the can, re-insert the valve core and inflate the tyre. A double action foot pump saves effort here if you don't have an electric tyre compressor. Purchasing a complete tyre repair kit is advisable.

If the puncture is too large to repair it may be possible to still use the tyre by fitting an inner tube. Some tyre manufacturers permit tubes to be used in some of their radial tyres, others do not. An innertube must be of the correct size for the tyre. The tyre will have to be released from the rim.
A 21st century approach is to use a commercial latex sealant solution which is injected into the tyre through the valve (sometimes the valve core needs to be removed first). The tyre is then pumped up and driven. Heat generated in the tyre causes the sealant to set as it is squeezed out of the puncture hole. Several modern 4x4's have a similar solution already installed in the tyre pending a puncture.

Removing a tyre
The first problem is to 'break the bead' i.e the bonding of the tyre to the rim. You probably don't have a bead breaker and certainly not the hydraulic equipment the tyre fitting workshops use. The best alternative is to use your hydraulic jack. First remove the valve core, put the wheel under a stong part of the vehicle chassis and jack down the tyre from the rim, using the chassis to push down against. Take care not to damage the tyre and keep the jack vertical. The tyre will pop down into the wheel centre. You can stuff a few rags between the bead and rim to prevent them re-seating. Repeat the process for the other bead.
To lift the tyre bead over the wheel rim long tyre levers are needed
. Stand on one part of the tyre to press it into the centre of the rim and use a lever to prise the bead over the rim furthest from where you are standing. Hold down the lever with one foot whilst using the other lever to prise the next section of bead over the rim. Be careful not to damage the bead edge of the tyre. Continue until all the bead is released.
If you are removing the tyre then a similar procedure is used to get the other bead over the same side of the rim. If however, you are installing or repairing an inner tube
there is no need to remove the tyre completely.

Replacing a tyre
Apply a little soapy water to the bead and use the tyre levers to prise the bead onto the rim. For the second bead, stand on the tyre opposite the part of the bead you are prising over. If the tyre is a cross-ply then pump up the innertube to push the bead back fully onto the rim. If the tyre is a radial then you cannot produce enough pressure with a foot pump to lift the tyre bead onto the top of the rim. Without a commercial 'bead expander' you can improvise by wrapping a rope tourniquet-style around the middle of the tyre tread and tightening with a tyre lever whilst pumping. The sidewalls will bulge out and the beads jumps up onto the rim.

Repairing an innertube
If it becomes necessary to repair a punctured tube that has a small hole in it then a self-adhesive repair patch is the best option. These simply need to be pressed firmly onto the cleaned surface and left for a few minutes to bind. The inside of the tyre should be carefully inspected to remove any material that may rub against the tube and damage it.
Alternatively, tyre sealant can be used as for a tubeless tyre.


Installing an innertube

The bead should be broken on both sides and prised over the rim on one side. Pump just a little air into the tube to separate its sides. Remove the tubeless valve stem. Insert the valve stem of the tube into the hole in the rim and push the rest of the tube into the tyre. Take care not to allow the tube to become twisted. Add more air to the tube to keep the valve in position. Check the tube for twists and wrinkles. Apply a little soapy water to the bead and use the tyre levers to prise the bead over the rim. Be careful not to trap the tube with the levers or to damage the bead. Stand on the tyre opposite the part of the bead you are prising over. Check the tube is not trapped anywhere and pump to the desired pressure and check with a tyre pressure gauge.


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