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Flat tires - Fix yourself vs Roadside Assistance?

The_Observer

Member
Feb 14, 2020
711
426
Los Angeles
Hey all,

I know this isn't really a Model 3 specific question, but recently I had a flat tire and used Tesla's Roadside Assistance and costed me >$70 to patch a tire, a lesson to learn how to be prepared on the road. I could of just got a loaner and went to Discount/America's Tires to patch it for free.

That being said, how do you all deal with flat tires? Do you all fix it yourself by getting tire plug kits, or do you all rely on roadside assistance services to help patch your tires (or other places to patch tires for free)?

I am trying to see if I should get additional tools such as tire patch kits, wrenches, jacks/jack stands, or etc to fix flat tires, or just use a tire pump just to make it enough to a tire shop to patch the tires for free, or use Roadside Assistance. What do you all think?
 

camalaio

Active Member
May 28, 2019
1,483
2,095
Vernon, BC, Canada
Never used roadside assistance for flats (for any car), and I've had two on the Model 3. Usually just drive home and attempt a fill & DIY plug if reasonable. I had 2 plugs and 1 patch on a single tire on my last car at one point (tire shop didn't seem to think this was a concern, so I wasn't concerned).

If DIY plugs isn't an option or doesn't work, I drive to a tire shop and have them patch it. I've always been able to add a bit of air and continue on wherever. If I had a more catastrophic flat, not entirely sure what I'd do.

The one time it wasn't an option due to shops being closed at night, I had one of those sealant goop pump things. Just got a cheap one from Canadian Tire. Pump in the sealant, follow the directions driving around a bit, noticed it wasn't leaking anymore, and just waited until next morning to get it patched at a tire shop (they probably didn't enjoy the mess inside, but didn't mention it).

$70 for a patch is ridiculous. Most I've paid was $15 (Colorado Costco), usually get it free.

So I'd recommend a sealant goop pump thing (they usually double as inflator pumps) and additionally one of those cheap reamer/plug/snips kits if you know how to use them (they're a PITA at the best of times to be honest). Both have served me well. No jack stands or wrenches needed for that.
 

RayK

Active Member
Apr 5, 2016
1,919
1,873
San Jose, CA
The one flat I had repaired I took it to the local Tesla Service Center ($40). I figured they knew much better than my usual tire shop did (see story here). The second time that same tire got a puncture it wasn't fixable.

From what I have read, both here and at other forums, I would not recommend using a can of tire sealant (slime / goop), if the tire has the foam liner. The goop doesn't have much of a chance to penetrate the foam and seal the leak. I would recommend carrying a tire inflator as you can probably fill the tire and limp to a place where you can get it permanently repaired (patch from the inside).
 
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camalaio

Active Member
May 28, 2019
1,483
2,095
Vernon, BC, Canada
The one flat I had repaired I took it to the local Tesla Service Center ($40). I figured they knew much better than my usual tire shop did (see story here). The second time that same tire got a puncture it wasn't fixable.

From what I have read, both here and at other forums, I would not recommend using a can of tire sealant (slime / goop), if the tire has the foam liner. The goop doesn't have much of a chance to penetrate the foam and seal the leak. I would recommend carrying a tire inflator as you can probably fill the tire and limp to a place where you can get it permanently repaired (patch from the inside).

Oh dang that's a really good point that Tesla doesn't even make, and they have one of these sealant things in their online shop. The heck?

If you're reading this and unaware, stock Tesla tires include a foam liner. The same brand/type of tire via a local tire shop will not have this foam (unless you ask for the Tesla-specific SKU), nor any other tire you get (e.g. winters). Which is why I'm the heck'ing, because stock tires and "official" sealant pump would be a bad combo. Weird.

Of further relevance, and I completely forgot, is a lot of tire shops refuse to do the repair on foam-lined tires. If you ever encounter "we don't patch Teslas", ask why, this is often it. This was my experience with Costco. I had non-stock winters on and explained they didn't have the foam, only then would they repair it.
 

mattack4000

Active Member
Oct 1, 2017
2,399
935
CA
I plugged my model x tires 5 times, the same freaking tire!!!! It’s fine, every once a while it leaks though. I think it depends on where the damage is. If it is an easy one, just go plug it yourself.
 
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destructure00

Active Member
Mar 2, 2019
1,468
1,620
Scottsdale, AZ
I've had one experience with Tesla roadside assitance for a flat. I was given the choice between a tow to my choice of location, or a loaner tire. I chose the loaner, but should have gotten a tow back to my house in since I think the tow company picking up the loaner probably added an hour to the response time. Also, having to make multiple trips to Discount for a new tire and to Tesla to drop off the loaner tire.

After that I bought a plug kit and 12v compressor from Amazon. Next time I'd much prefer to get myself back on the road and deal with changing the tire later.if necessary, rather than wait for someone to hopefully show up.
 
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XLR82XS

D M C
Jul 26, 2019
3,127
1,762
SWFL | Vegas
I got a screw in a LR tire this weekend on a road trip. Was loosing ~10psi every 5 minutes. I stopped at every exit to add air and got the car home. Contacted roadside and they dispatched a tow company (awesome guy!) and got the car to a tire shop right near me.

Good news: not a complete blow out 100 miles from home.
Bad news: the puncture was at the side of the tire and it's getting replaced now.

I'm carrying a portable air compressor for now on.
 
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Feathermerchan

Active Member
Sep 21, 2018
1,157
890
Euless, Tx
Carry a portable compressor
Buy a tire plugging kit.
Carry a screwdriver, dykes, needle nosed pliers

For long trips, carry a jack and spare too.

I have plugged so many tires and then just worn them out. No problems.
Most flats can be plugged on the car. Back on the road in just a few minutes.
 

XLR82XS

D M C
Jul 26, 2019
3,127
1,762
SWFL | Vegas
Carry a portable compressor
Buy a tire plugging kit.
Carry a screwdriver, dykes, needle nosed pliers

For long trips, carry a jack and spare too.

I have plugged so many tires and then just worn them out. No problems.
Most flats can be plugged on the car. Back on the road in just a few minutes.
Plug kit for sure. Even if the repair is questionable at least the car is drive-able.
 
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Phlier

Bluebird
Jun 12, 2019
1,475
1,854
Utah
I've lived out in the boonies for the vast majority of my adult life. As such, I've plugged a few tires in my time. I carry a good quality plug kit, a tube of rubber cement (to lube the plug for easier insertion), some side cutters, needle nose pliers and an air compressor.

Plugs are considered a permanent repair, too.

If you do have the original tires on the car, as others have stated, stay away from goop/slime type tire sealants. Most all of the slime gets absorbed by the sound absorbing foam, which not only prevents the stuff from sealing the hole, it can also cause a pretty serious tire imbalance.
 

camalaio

Active Member
May 28, 2019
1,483
2,095
Vernon, BC, Canada
Did it go straight in?

Yepp, just the end that the rope/cable attaches to was smooshed and sticking out. I thought it was just a big rock wedged in somehow. They didn't think they'd be able to patch it, but it still holds to this day!

I have bad luck with tires. I punctured one on my ATV with a dulled tree branch that was about 4" in diameter.
 

dirkbike1

Member
Feb 8, 2014
113
80
Arizona
With 21 inch wheels on a Model S, I gave up and carry a full size spare and a jack. Takes up lots of room, but my last flat couldn't be fixed, Glad I had the spare.
 

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