Patched Tires

To make a long story short, on a day trip out of town yesterday I came up to the aftermath of a horrific accident with crash debris heavily littering the road. An officer was emphatically directing traffic to drive through so approaching emergency vehicles could get to the site. Like other drivers I tried to thread slowly through all the debris but could tell I had picked up something in at least one tire. I made it into the nearest small town, hunted up the only tire shop and had the tires checked.

Both right side tires had punctures about like a very large nail would cause with the debris still embedded. The tire man first put some soap on to verify there was air leaking which definitely was. Wheels were dismounted, tires removed from rims, tires patched on the inside (not plugged, but patched), tires remounted and back on car. Of course, I will keep a close check on tire pressure of all tires even more than my normal weekly routine. The tire man said I should still get full normal use from both tires.

Tires had ~12,800 miles when damaged and I drove the 90 miles back home with no problems.

Tires are the original Michelans when I bought the Camry new last year.

I know a properly patched tire can have a long life, having a few previous encounters with nails. But I do have one concern this time. The tread of one tire had the surface very slightly damaged around the puncture hole. I can best describe it as looking like a lot of hangnails in need of a manicure. This small spot of minor shredding was only perhaps a quarter of an inch deep at most covering an area of a large thump print. For SAFE use tire longevity, should I be concerned?

Side note: The crash that had all the debris in the road appeared to be from a car passing in a blind no passing zone and meeting a semi tanker truck head on. Not much left of the car. Add this to the discussion thread ongoing about why such drivers are still alive. I doubt this one was.

Can you post a photo?
As a general statement I’m inclined to suggest that if one of the tires could not be safely patched the tire guy would have said something. But without actually seeing the damage, all I can do is guess wildly.

Patch Only? I Could Be Way Behind The Latest Thinking On Tire Repair, But I’ve Always Utilized The Combination Plug/patch, A One-Piece Device.

Almost all tires now are steel-belted and I doubt a small hole in the belt is going to compromise the integrity of a tire. Also, I wouldn’t be concerned with a small “scuffed” spot.

I do know that some tire shops won’t repair tires with punctures in a tread within 3/4" to 1" from a sidewall. I’m not sure of the exact reason, but can only speculate.


CSA, the reason is that there’s a band around the tire about 3/4" wide between where the steel belt edge has ended and the sidewall begins. That area is intentionally designed to be a high-flex area to allow the tire to deform properly when turning, and patches in that band are highly unlikely to hold.

I’ll try to get a photo and post.

Both punctures were safely inboard of the sidewall.

I will edit to clarify I do not know absolutely there are no plugs but I was told they were patched on the inside of the tire and I did see them being removed from the rims.

Cannot get a clear photo. All attempts come out blurred.

Very hard to even find the spot now. Apparently the tire man gave it a manicure along with the patch. The spot now looks clean with a hollowed indent about as deep as the deepest grooves of the tread.

"…I do not know absolutely there are no plugs but I was told they were patched on the inside of the tire…"

The combo plug/patches I’ve seen are a round patch with a long stem of rubber coming out from the center (the plug). After the puncture is reamed a bit to accept the plug, the inside of the tire is prepped for the patch, the plug is inserted though the hole from inside the removed tire, pulled into position from outside the tire and the patch thoroughly seated inside the tire and the excess “stem” is cut off flush with the tread.

I’ve had tires repaired in this fashion and have never had any problems, whatsoever.


I didn’t think to take before pictures yesterday. I had a frail elderly friend along whom I was driving to her 71st high school class reunion being held a block away from the tire store. Turns out the tire man was distantly related to her late husband. Small towns are like that. :slight_smile:

@the same mountainbike

Thanks, you confirmed my speculation that a tire shoulder would naturally be subject to more flexing and would be a transition area from steel belt to sidewall reinforcement.


Thank you CSA. That description revives a childhood memory seeing that done by the man who handled automotive work at my parents’ Otasco store. I had forgotten that until you described the procedure. That would also explain the outer appearance of the tires now. I cannot even see where the nail hole was patched on the other tire.

Here is another reason to not worry, even if the patch were to fail, and that is very unlikely, the tire is not going to blow out suddenly. It will still “slow out” so you will have time to get safely off the road if there is a problem. Most likely, it will begin to lose air over several days so you will have plenty of advanced warning.

Also if this were to occur, it probably won’t happen until the tread gets thin enough to justify new tires anyway.

I don’t think you’ll have a problem. That’s the way it was done for years. Recently they came up with the combination patch. I wouldn’t like either but what else can you do? I suppose it depends on the circumstances but police should not be routing cars through the debris and usually the fire truck with the hose is one of the first to respond. I’ve been there myself reluctantly having to drive through a debris field.

I suppose you could just buy two new tires and start the endless pair replacement routine, or just drive them for another year and replace all four. Having just bought a tire depth gauge, I’m thinking of replacement of my 25K tires myself. One thing though, it might be worth a letter to the proper jurisdiction explaining the consequences and suggesting a review of their emergency response.

You think you had it bad, this summer I noticed a car in a parking lot with a tire going flat. Later a woman came up to the car and got in, I went over to inform her about the tire and then I noticed it was flat and all the other tires were low.

She told me that she was going through a construction zone when another car had forced her on to the shoulder of the road passing her where he should not have. She knew she had hit something but didn’t know what. A close look at her tires revealed that each had three or more roofing nails in them. She was out of state and it was her son’s car, but she was not going home that night on those tires and there was no way anyone would patch them for her. At least one nail in each tire was near the sidewall.

Guess we know what she hit now.

Oh grief, that poor woman. You were kind to speak to her and alert her.

Hard to say via the internet. Usually patches work fine, but not always. Hopefully the mechanic who did the job has the necessary experience to determine if a patch is possible or not. Be aware that dismounting and mounting the tires can sometimes damage an in-tire tire pressure sensor.

The steel cord used in the tire belts is not stainless steel… A problem develops when water, especially salt water penetrates into the steel belts and follows the wire strands into the tire body…The steel can corrode and the belt can fail…This is a worst case scenario…The plug-patch combo repair seals both the inside and the outside of the tire…

Keith makes a good point. Remember that the air pressure inside the tire is pressing the patch against the tire’s inside at 32 psi. If the patch is 2" in diameter, that’s just over 3 square inches total surface area. At 32 pounds per square inch, that means the patch is being pressed against the inside of the tire with a total of about 100 pounds.

Yeah, guys, I rounded. My brain is no longer willing to play with 3.1416 x 32. Of course I COULD get a pencil… but I think I got the point across. :smiley:

Oh, yeah, and then there’s centrifugal force… which doesn’t actually exist… it’s actually inertia acting against centripetal force… okay, so I’m losing it tonight… it’s been a long day. I’ll be better in the morning.

Thank you for the additional information. I shall keep close monitoring of pressure and condition.

In tire pressure sensors are not an issue as the car does not have a tire pressure monitoring system. I have the LE trim without some of the extra features.


“In tire pressure sensors are not an issue as the car does not have a tire pressure monitoring system. I have the LE trim without some of the extra features.”

With all due respect, I believe you may just be mistaken

I know you bought a new Camry a few months ago . . . and TPMS has been legally required on cars, SUVs, and small trucks for several years now

Do you by chance live outside of the USA . . . ?

I’m asking, because I’m not sure if TPMS is required in other countries

No, Marnet definitely lives in The US, as I recall.

And–yes, Marnet–your car does have a TPMS, as has been required for several years in this country. You may not yet have seen the warning light on your dashboard, but it is there…somewhere.

I suggest taking a look at the section of your Owner’s Manual that deals with controls and instruments, in order to see exactly where that warning light is placed on your instrument panel, and to see what it looks like.

It is supposed to look like a cross-section of a tire, with an exclamation point inside it, but many people don’t recognize it when it appears, so familiarizing yourself with it now would be a good idea. It should look something like this: