Plugging a tire

I’ve done much of my own maintenance for 20+ years but for some reason never had occasion to plug a punctured tire. But after a NY-Boston drive following
Thanksgiving, I noticed a low back tire and found a screw stuck in the tread. I pumped it up with a compressor, drove over to my local auto parts store, and picked up a $10 tire repair kit.

Back home in the driveway, I put a jack under the car near the tire to keep the rim from settling in top of the bead, pulled the screw out, and followed the instructions for reaming out the puncture hole and inserting the plug. The instructions said rubber cement isn’t necessary but I put some on the plug anyway for insurance. Then pumped the tire back up, and it seemed to hold pressure fine.

It was surprisingly painless. I wonder if anyone here has other tips and tricks for this type of repair, and what shops are charging these days to do it.

You’ll get replies here that there should be a patch on the inside, but in all honesty I’ve never had a problem with a plug. It sounds like you did it properly, including the generous use of rubber cement.

I’ve plugged many a tire. Lots of crap on the roads here. I even had to pull a nail clipper out of my tire once. I had only one failure where a plug started leaking again after a month. Replaced it with a fresh plug and cement. Now, all my cars have road hazard coverage, and I let the tire shop handle it.

Just keep your spare in good repair, just in case.

If the tire is almost new I have it fixed properly. if it is half worn I plug it myself.

I’ve done it a couple of time so n my Accord and had no problems. I did not use extra rubber cement, only the glue on the plugs.

Forgot to ask: does anyone notice a balance issue after plugging? My plugged tire is on the rear, but after I rotate, am wondering whether balance will be noticeably off. Probably not.

And speaking of strange things puncturing tires…when I was young our family car once suffered a puncture from a metal ballpoint Parker pen. The pen ended up almost entirely inside the tire.

No, no balance issues on any of the tires I’ve plugged.

Around here Pepboys repairs flats for free. As much as I love DIY, I usually use them. They do plug tires and I have not had balance issues. Last week my wife’s car had a slow leak and turned out to be the valve stem, again repaired free.

Free flat fixes at Pep Boys? Wow, did not know that.

I have been plugging my own tires for years, except when they are fairly new. never had any problems…now when I buy tires I pay the extra for road hazard which came in handy after running over a sharp piece of metal and tire had to be replaced due to a nice slit in the tire. Its always funny how a nail or screw goes in perfectly straight when its lying down on the road.

Same here. I’ve plugged tires for years.

But what I do is, when installing the plug I leave about a 1/4" of the plug sticking out of the tire. Then I take a propane torch and light off that !/4" of plug sticking out and let it burn and let go out.

So now did I not only plug the tire, I also vulcanized the plug into the tire.


Here’s my standard lecture on tire plugs:

The tire industry considers them temporary repairs.

Why? because they tend to develop leaks. Maybe not right away, but further down the road.

And for those who say they’ve done a ton of plugs with no leaks, I’m the guy who is balancing you out. I’m at a 50% failure rate.

So the tire industry recommends a patch - which is much less likely to leak - and a patch reinforces the injured area.

And they also recommend using a plug along with the patch to protect the steel belts for water and other such outside contaminants.

Been pluggin’ my tires with just the gooey string to plug the hole. I always double up the string and only once in many years did I have one continue to leak. The tire was about ready for replacement anyway so I didn’t have it patched. Liability concerns (lawyers slithering about…) make the tire stores insist on a patch but the plugs will work just fine if its a driveway repair.

@Tester, thanks for that vulcanizing tip. Will try that next time.

I also have never had a balance issue on a plugged tire.

What are those plugs made of? Seems like a very soft rubber compound. And what makes them so sticky?

Well and here is the disagree post. I would never plug a tire myself. The proper way is to patch it on the inside but now they use the combination patch and plug. The last one I had done was 400 miles from home at a luckily open Walmart. It cost me $20. I don’t remember the last time I had a tire repaired though before that. So for the quality and the price, I have it done properly in a shop.

And a disagree post on burning the plug to vulcanize it.

Applying heat to a tire? Not a good idea. Pressure build up!

Vulcanization temps? 200 degrees F. If it’s burning, it’s reverting the rubber (changing it back into its constituent chemicals - that is unvulcanizing it.)

Have noticed no balance issues with the tire I had plugged and patched. But then, That’s an advantage to the newer method. After remounting, they get rebalanced. Nails and screws tend to go in straighter, cause if they aren’t they don’t go in as easily and get thrown. There is a lot of crap that stuck to your tire, for a while, then got thrown out on the highway and never caused a flat because of it’s orientation and location. Lot of both good and bad luck involved. I discovered that when I started doing road work with a tractor. Because they don’t throw debris, it tends to cut up tires badly. Fortunately, the tread depth is measured in Inches and not 1/32 's of an inch.