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How to Patch a Tube

By Brad Quartuccio

A typical patch kit includes a swatch of sandpaper, a tube of vulcanizing fluid and a few patches. Here’s how to use them on a simple puncture.

Find the hole. Put some air in the tube, listen and look for the leak. You may have to give it a bath to spot the bubbles. Let it dry.

Scuff the area around the hole to clean and roughen the surface. It may help to flatten out seams, but don’t stress too much.

Evenly spread vulcanizing fluid around the hole. You must wait for the glue to dry and turn cloudy before moving along to the next step. It must dry completely.

Take the foil backing off the patch, and without touching the surface of the patch, firmly place it over the hole. One shot, no sliding. Burnish the patch with a coin or the edge of your patch kit and gently peel off the plastic backing.

Flat Diagnosis: If the hole was on the outside of the tube it was caused by something puncturing the tire. Be sure to remove the flat-causing shrapnel from tire before reinflation. If the hole was on the inside of the tube it was caused by the rim; either the rimstrip moved or there is a burr somewhere. Fix the problem. Or it was a pinch-flat, caused by the rim pinching the tube against the ground due to underinflation or an unexpected pothole. Sometimes these come in pairs, sometimes not. Typically you know when they strike. Put more air in it next time.