GT3 Diaries

The GT3's first tire puncture

It was just last week I wrote about buying a 996 scissor jack to have in my emergency tire repair kit, in preparation for any puncture issues during long road trips.

And apparently on short ones, too.

In what is likely one of those ‘speak of the devil’ turn of events, I got my first tire puncture in the GT3. I was heading off to my usual Friday evening drive – after four solid weekdays of simply parking the car due to not using it for commuting – when I noticed the TPMS screen indicating the right passenger tire was down 3 PSI from the normal 33. Losing nearly 1 PSI per day is a textbook example of a simple puncture, probably a nail or screw.  

The inability to remove the wheels due to the center locking hubs meant a tire repair job on the GT3 is immensely more difficult than the typical car on the road. Having to look for the offending item, remove said item, and then patch the hole while the wheel remains on the car is not the best experience, especially considering the utter lack of clearance around the tire:

Have fun sticking any size of hand in through there.

Surely this is where the aforementioned 996 scissor jack comes in, but even with the assist, the GT3’s lack of suspension travel means there’s barely any droop to the wheel:

It gets worse: the 911 features an electronic parking brake, one that cannot be disabled without being in the car, door closed, engine running, and foot on the brakes. As soon as you open the door to exit, the parking brake applies automatically. Why is this important? In the puncture-causing object, it’d be great if I can freely spin the wheel to easily inspect the whole surface of the tire; sadly an impossible task on the rear tire of a GT3.

Therefore if the culprit can’t be found on the first instance I jacked up the car, I have to lower the car back down, get in and drive forwards so what was previously pointed towards the ground is now at the opposite, visible end.

As my (horrible) luck would have it, I had to do exactly that. My first attempt poking my way through the wheel-well with a flashlight was unsuccessful; armed with a spray bottle of soapy water, there were no bubble spots to be found. After much grumbling and work to reposition the car, I successfully found the stubborn son-of-a-bitch in the second attempt:

Right in the meat on the inside of the two center treads, a fortunately turn of events as this meant I can repair it using the traditional rubber plug. I am not dumb enough to do the same had the puncture been on the shoulder blocks or the sidewall. I am also not rich enough to follow Porsche’s guideline of replacing the tire not matter where the hole is; spending $300-$500 (front - rear) every single time I get a nail in a tire - even if the tire is brand new - is not my idea of wise spending.

I of course declined the $2,600, 7-year wheel and tire warranty when I bought the car.

As said before, I’ve been using tire plugs since I starting driving, and not a single one have failed. For repairing holes squarely on the tread-block, I have full confidence.

In this particular instance, the cause of the puncture is a metal screw, which proved quite tricky to remove. First I had to reposition the car again: I found the screw while it was facing the front, which offers no room for me to work due to the low-hanging side-skirt and the scissor jack itself. So for a third time I wound down the jack, got in the car and did the forward and reverse dance to place the screw facing towards the rear bumper:

Yes, that on the left is indeed a very hot exhaust manifold. Don’t ask me how I found out what temperature it was.

Already cramped for space and armed with only a flat-head screwdriver and a pair of needle-nose pliers, merely extricating the screw was a half-hour ordeal of pulling and tugging (that’s what she said). Lacking in any sort of leverage whilst lying on the ground, I was finally able to free the screw by slowly turning it, a quarter turn at a time.

The plugging procedure was super easy in comparison: I enlarged the hole with the included auger tool, and then shoved the rubber plug in. A healthy dab of rubber cement to seal it up, and we had a result:

No bubbles!

I then buttoned it all up by snipping off the excess and inflating the tire back to factory specs. The final test would be returning to the car the next day and verifying the pressure hasn’t gone down, which I am happy to report this morning the plug is holding superbly.

After this hopefully the tire puncture gods will spare me from another one for at least the rest of this year. Fingers crossed.