Inner Tube for Tubeless?


I sustained a small (~6p nail) puncture on the sidewall of a tubeless radial tire ('99 Chevvy Venture). Following conventional wisdom, the tire was replaced, since it couldn’t be repaired by either plug or patch. Regrettably, the tire was only 3 months old at the time of this tragedy.

I have heard a suggestion that perhaps an inner tube can be used with it, to get at least some use from it. Does anyone know if this is okay? Can you get inner tubes that will work with cast alloy tubeless rims?




The reason patches (and plugs for that matter) aren’t recommended for sidewall punctures is that the movement the sidewall goes through as the tire rolls through the fottprint is complex and patches tend to work loose. And since part of the function of the patch is to “bridge” the damaged area and replace the loss of structure, this would be bad.

A tube doesn’t address the “bridging” issue at all, and there is a possibility that the damage - even though it is small - will continue to tear, and eventually the tire will rupture. Since the largest stress occurs at high speed, this is when the tire is most likely to rupture, and this is the least opportune moment to have this happen.

So unless you have a death wish, I’d suggest not using a tube in this way.


I have driven tires for years with a nail(s), or screw, in the tread. If left in, it usually did a good job of self-sealing. When it did leak a little, out came ol’ faithful Stop Leak. I haven’t gotten a screw, or nail, in the sidewall, but, I’d still try it. The hole grow to a rupture? How? There is reinforcing cords in the sidewall as there is in the tread area. Reaming out a hole (making the hole BIGGER) in the tread to put a plug in? Now, that is dangerous! When that plug blows out, your tire is, almost, instantly flat. Give me a little nail, or screw-size hole any day!


Didn’t someone post here a little while ago about the heat build-up between an inner tube and a new style radial tire, causing excessive internal heat to the tire? Last tube I used was in a racing application and I remember the “tire guy” with our crew always insisting on some type of talcum or baby powder between the tire and tube. I’d be careful with the tube idea. Rocketman


If the damage is a simple, clean nail puncture without any cord damage (broken cords in the sidewall), a tube should work fine. The puncture could be patched before the tube was installed for added insurance. In the past, this was done all the time. The real problem is lawyers and liability issues, not safety…The attitude now is “don’t take a chance on a lawsuit, just replace the tire”. Radial tires have very tender sidewalls because all the cords run in the same direction. One ply sidewalls are common, so ANY cord damage compromises the tire…

There is one REAL issue to consider. The tube will add mass and bulk to the tire. During sustained high-speed summer driving, heat build-up may or may not be a problem. Probably not, but the tube will add a small amount of heat to the tire at high speeds…

Installing the tube is simple. LOCATING a suitable tube may not be, and they are not cheap…


The real challenge trying to find a garage with the guts to install the tube into a JUNK tire. The tire will make a nice swing or boat bumper.


When tubes get punctured they deflate quickly, i.e., they BLOW-OUT. Tubeless tires leak-down somewhat slowly depending on the size of the hole. As said above, the issue on repairing a hole is liability, not reliability. But without seeing your tire I won’t suggest what to do other than say err on the safe side.


Agree with posts. I have used a tube in my spare tire once when I had a hard to fix leak. However, I was aware of this at all times, and would only use it to drive slowly to the next service station. Tubes build up a great deal of heat, and high speed driving with one will be very hazardous to your health.