Roy Chattelle was on a road trip in 2008 and suffered what seemed like a minor tire leak. So he got the tire repaired. Many people think nothing of pulling into the nearest tire shop and getting that little puncture or tear repaired or “plugged.”
A few months after this routine repair, the tire blew, causing the vehicle to flip five times. Chattelle and his kids recovered from their injuries, but wife Gwen had a very different outcome: She was rendered permanently paralyzed from the neck down.
An investigation into what caused this tire to blow out revealed that the tire shop was negligent: faulty repair and installation, leading to a thread belt separation. The Chattelles were awarded over $13 million.
According to an article at boston.cbslocal.com, many tire shops repair leaks from the outside of the tire. Glen Wilder of Wilder Brothers Auto is quoted as follows: “They just jam rubber into it until it stops leaking.”
When you take your slowly leaking tire, or tire that has a little nail in it, to the tire shop, do you really know what the employee there will do to ensure that the repair means a perfectly safe tire to drive on?
Wilder explains that the inside of the tire needs to be inspected. Sometimes tire shops won’t do this, upping the risk of a blowout. Repairs should be made with a plug-patch and also with a rubber sealant—and not all tire shops follow this recommendation, which comes from tire manufacturers.
Not only that, but there is no law making it illegal for tire shops to deliver substandard tire repairs. It’s legal to perform a shoddy repair using superglue, for instance.
In fact, bad tire repairs are common, says an article at newyork.cbslocal.com. “This is a dirty little secret,” says Robert Sinclair, AAA spokesman. Anything goes, he says, because there’s just no law that requires a minimum standard of tire repair. He points out that some tires are repaired with spit and tape, sawdust or “whatever is laying around.”
A punctured tire should be removed from the rim and inspected. Al Eisenberg, a tire repair expert for 30 years in Long Island, notes that shoddy repairs are a ticking time bomb. “It’s not a matter of if, but when that tire will blow.”
So what should you do?
Just buy a new tire. Forget worrying about whether or not the punctured or gashed tire was repaired effectively. If your circumstances leave you with no choice but to have the new tire installed at a shop other than the one at your vehicle’s dealership, then as soon as possible after the repair, take your vehicle into its dealership to have the new tire installation inspected to make sure it was done properly.
Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen.