Don’t let a relatively minor glitch throw you off balance. Only a set of tire caps will get you back on the road safely.
For years, when I was young, it was clear that every Le Mans Club cardholder had to be able to change a flat tire. My dad showed me how to change my first tire when I was too young to drive. A simple skill that fathers and mothers have been teaching their own children (and daughters too!) for many decades. We do this because a flat tire is a relatively common but simple repair that anyone with the least amount of knowledge can competently perform.
Changing a tire is one thing, but how many of you have gone the extra mile and used a set of flat tires to fix a flat? Personally, I didn’t have one until last summer. I would do the same as many of you, and I would pack a spare tire, throw a flat in the trunk, and go to a local garage or mechanic to have the repair done by someone who has the skills and equipment to do it right.
However, for cross-border travel or interception situations, we need to consider other circumstances. If you’re traveling 30 miles on a forest trail at night and you push a sharp root or debris into a tire, it’s good to have options.
For these reasons, and probably mostly for the sake of preparation, I bought my own set of plug-in tapes. He had been sitting safely in the back of my harness since last summer, waiting for a chance to use it, and the time had finally come.
Do you need a tyre cap kit?
The other day my wife and I were walking out of the house and I noticed that the tire pressure warning light came on. When we stopped, I checked the tires and saw that the rear passenger side was a little worn, but I put that down to the cold spell we had just had and headed home. The tire was much lower this morning and on closer inspection I saw the object in question, the bolt was there for all to see. He laughed at me right there in broad daylight.
Now I could just go to the place where my tires were mounted and they would fix it for free. I could have taken out the container from the road service, but I immediately thought it was the perfect time to use the plug-in tire set I bought last year.
Bonus Points – I also thought this article would be helpful to those who might wonder why, while I was safely at home, I volunteered to go to the trouble of fixing my own tire with a cap kit when I could have it done for free at a major repair shop.
Tooluxe 50002L Universal tyre repair kit
Includes all the tools you need, such as cable plugs and sealant grease, to perform all your tire repairs in your own garage. Includes additional connections for chains and for multiple applications.
Do you practice connecting the bus?
For me, doing something is the best way to learn a skill. I could read all the books and watch the videos on YouTube, but nothing like business to teach me a lot. Not only did I prove that I can fix a flat tire with a set of plugs if need be, but I also learned a few other lessons about safety and comfort on the road that are far superior to driving at night in the wilderness.
I recommend anyone who wants to become more proficient at car maintenance, assuming safety or time or life doesn’t dictate otherwise, to do the same. If you’re going to a wedding, or the roads are congested, or for a million other reasons, I leave the emergency car and go. But I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I didn’t want to miss it. Here’s how I connected the tape and what I learned from him.
Bus connection training with bus connection kit
Anyway, in my opinion…
First identify the object that caused the puncture.
I could clearly see the protruding bolt from the tire and it was stuck in the upper tread. A punch in the sidewalls is a whole different matter. It can be fixed locally, but I probably wouldn’t try. This foreign body on the tread was relatively easy and manageable.
Gather Your Tools – From left to right A Blue Ridge Overland Gear tool kit, a Toyota OEM tire kit with basic tools, a bottle clip and my tire cap kit.
I wanted to try to do the tire repairs with the simplest of tools, which meant getting the tire change kit and bottle jack from the factory. I have a 3-inch lift on my car, but I quickly saw that without a large piece of 4 x 4 or similar wood, the factory bottle jack wasn’t going to lift my unit high enough. It just didn’t have the height to lift my wheels off the ground, even when fully extended.
Hoisting the vehicle
Jack to the rescue with my BudBuilt slides for the lifting point.
So I took another chance to try something new in the relative safety of my driveway level, which was grabbing my Hi-Lift Jack and lifting the car. But before that, I learned another valuable lesson.
My factory tire replacement kit wrench does not fit the legs of my gas filled wheels. The cap holes were too narrow for a factory wrench, so if I had been out in the middle of nowhere without extra tools, I would have been screwed.
Identification and disposal of foreign bodies
On the other hand, the lift functioned without any problems and the BudBuilt slides supported the weight of the car with great ease. It was my first experience with a jack, and I was glad it was on a flat surface. I took the time to walk away from the inside of the jack handle and make sure the jack pin mechanism was tight each time. I’ve also used jack stands, but I haven’t crawled under the car yet.
Technically I didn’t have to remove the bushing either to effectively use the bushing jack kit, but it was much easier and I had to practice using my jack again.
Prepare to remove the bolt.
Removing the tape allowed me to prepare for the removal of the foreign body. In my case, it was a screw one inch long. Before removing it though, I took my reamer out of the tire stud kit and pushed it into the hole to the left of the bolt to reduce air loss.
I have now noticed that there are two different ways to stop the tires. The tire cap kit I have has a grease that looks like petroleum jelly. I’ve heard that the expander needs to be lubricated to make it easier to drive in and out of the tire, which on one hand makes sense since it’s the most physical part of the whole process.
I’ve also heard that you grease the piston itself to make it slide easier. When I was at Overland Expo a few years ago, our instructor told me about this one, and it seems like the most logical one, so when I slipped the extension in, it wasn’t lubricated. Use your own imagination.
Object of attack. Who knows where I crushed that screw.
I removed the screw with pliers, not the vise pictured above, but I forgot to take another picture. Once the object is removed, take the reamer and insert it into the hole, turning it up and down and around as much as possible. The reamer is used to clean the hole and remove certain wells. It also allows the steel strips to be separated and makes room for the ram to be inserted. It’s not an easy task and requires a little muscle, but anyone can do it.
Leave the expander in the hole while you prepare the plug to avoid losing extra air.
While I was making the fork, I left the reamer in the hole. This makes it easier to mark the hole and prevent air from escaping.
Insert the tire cap into the insertion tool the same way you insert the needle.
The material of the tire cap itself is incredibly sticky, and the most difficult part of the whole process can be the extrusion of the sticky piece of plastic it contains. Using your fingers, work the end of one side into a thinner point and insert it into the needle or insert the tool until it is evenly stretched on both sides. Afterwards, I lubricated the tool tip with a small amount of grease.
My plug pliers have a clip that prevents the plug from being pushed too far into the socket. Insert the fork into the hole (I don’t know where the picture went) until only about 1/4 inch of the fork sticks out of the tread, then pull the insertion tool back. The plug remains in the power rail, leaving a small section exposed. Finally, just remove the excess with a knife or razor blade and you’re back in business.
Once the tire was connected, I just rewired it and put it back on my car.
What other items should be included in the tire cap kit?
Use an air pump to inflate the tyre.
There are several kits available online. The tire cap kit I used is from Amazon and is called Tooluxe 50002L Universal Tire Repair Kit – $14. Here are the basics I needed to fix a tire, but nothing else. The tools are very durable and high quality, just like some of the most expensive kits.
There are better equipped kits like the Boulder Tools Heavy Tire Repair Kit – 56 PC – $38, which includes things like pliers and a razor blade, plus valve stem replacement. I chose the cheapest kit, but choose what suits you best. TRP also makes an even more expensive set, but without too many bells and whistles, than the Boulder Tools set.
Mountaineering tools – repair kit for heavy tyres
The Boulder Tools Tire Repair Kit is the highest quality tire repair kit on the market for repairing tubeless flat tires. Easy flat tire repair in tubeless tires on cars, trucks, jeeps, motorcycles, ATVs, lawn mowers, tractors, trailers and vans.
I also learned that my wheels seem to be the only ones in the world (just kidding) that are not designed for use with conventional gauges or fillers, because the valve stem points directly at the wheel and is not tilted outward. This helps to some extent to prevent damage to the collar, as my valve stem is somewhat protected from rocks that might scratch it, but it makes inflating unnecessarily difficult.
Valve stem adapter so I can bleed the tires.
So I had to buy cheap adapters for my valve stems to connect my air pump hose. I bought a digital ARB tire filler and deflator at the Overland Expo and was very upset when I found out I couldn’t even plug it into my valve stems. If anyone knows of another solution, please let me know. So far the adapter is working well, but I have to shake it a little every time I use it, otherwise I don’t have good pressure.
A set of tire caps is only part of the solution. You also need to find a way to get air into the tire. Yes, you can use a flat or a compressed air box, but I have an air pump.
My air pump is not a sophisticated on-board device, but it could be in my future. I don’t use it often enough and I don’t have an airlock, so I bought this ViAir pump and it works pretty well. I had to buy a replacement tube, but it has a longer range and works better with my TRP inflator.
So I took the opportunity to connect my bus to the bus connection kit to learn a few things about my configuration, the hardware I depend on, and my process. I hope this will help some of you, and let me know what you think in the comments below.
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