Puncture on tire shoulder: repairable? If not how many tires do I need?

This morning I noticed a screw sticking out of the shoulder of my rear driver’s side tire. I have a 2009 Nissan Versa with very few miles on my tires (I checked my warranty I don’t believe this is covered). I’ve read online that a repair to the shoulder of the tire is possible but very few places do this type of repair (I haven’t found anywhere in Reno, NV that does this type of repair). If I have to replace the tire: can I get away with buying a new tire to match the others (since they are relatively new anyway) or do I have to buy 2 tires for the rear (or even more expensive: buy a set of 4)? Thanks in advance for any assistance.

If the damage is to the sidewall of the tire and not to the tread, the tire can’t be repaired and must be replaced.


If it’s off the tread (the tread cap) then you’re done. True sidewall repairs are dangerous …well as dangerous as a blow out, anyway.

Unless you’ve got a VERY fat wallet and are OCD about the fractionally marginal difference between a fresh tire and a slightly less fresh …just buy the ONE tire.

If you need a new tire, you only need one. You don’t have 4wd or AWD and the drive tires are on the front, so the rear tires just roll along like trailer tires would. Since they don’t do much work, rear tires on a FWD do not wear down very fast so chances are there is almost no wear on the rear tires.

If your puncture is within the belt area, you can repair it. If you can’t find a shop to do it, then get a tire repair kit from a parts house and do it yourself. Get a good kit with T-handles and fibrous plugs.

If you suspect the hole is not in the belt area, then bit the bullet and buy a new tire.

One more thing, did you remove the screw? Is there air leaking around it? Test with some soapy water. Its possible the screw didn’t go in far enough to do any damage.

Do you have a real spare? If so, use it! Hundreds of thousands of radial tires with sidewall punctures in the past were repaired with a patch and a radial tube… Now, it seems they don’t even make tire tubes anymore…Everyone got lawyer-shy…But first check to be sure the tire is punctured!

Buy a tire. Better to have and not need than to need but not have. Like needing it in the middle of Gangland or out in the middle of nowhere.

Does the tire NEED repair? WHY does it need repair? A screw in the tire just means that there is a screw in the tire; nothing more. Yes, I realize that this seems counter-intuitive; but, what harm is the screw doing? It’s just there, isn’t it? The tire isn’t losing air, is it?
I’ve had nail(s)/screw(s) in tires which have run YEARS that way without adverse effects.

If you can match the tire, you only need one. If not, I’d recommend two so that that end of the car stays balanced, but keep the old tire for a matching one in case you need to also replace a front tire. Screws don’t come individually, they come in boxes, and my experience is that it would not be uncommon to discover you picked up more than one. I know I have.

The shoulder of the tire still is the tread area, as I would define shoulder. If the screw has not penetrated the tire to cause air loss then I’d remove the screw and see if the tire has a leak in the area or not. It might be best to have the car at the tire shop when you remove the screw. If there is no leak I’d drive on and consider myself lucky.

If there is a leak the tire shop can pull the tire and determine if the leak if in the sidewall area or the if is in the tread area. If it is repairable I’d have them patch the inside of the tire, balance it and put it back on the car.

At worst if it isn’t repairable you’ll just need one new tire. Your car isn’t an AWD model and your tires are virtually new, so one tire will be fine. It would be best to buy the same brand tire that matches the other 3.

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Since we are on the subject and there appears to be some confusion, here’s what the Rubber Manufacturers Association says is the proper way to repair a tire and what the limits are. In particular notice what it defines as the repairable area of the tire - the tread, excluding the outermost rib:


good info, shoulder is a “no go” as far as repairable.

Manufacturers don’t want you repairing ANYTHING…They are in the business of selling new products, not fixing old ones…


Interesting proposition.

So why does the RMA give instructions on how to do a tire repair, if they don’t want ANY repairs?

I had the same problem on my 2006 Chevrolet Uplander minivan. I found a screw in a rear tire and the tire was losing air. I was in a hurry to get to a meeting in another town, so I drove into a Big O tire store close to home. The tire couldn’t be repaired, so we matched the tire tread as closely as possible with a new tire. This was two years ago and I haven’t had any problems. In your case, the tires are almost new. I would purchase a new tire the same make as the original and go on my way.

You guys would not believe the low level of training that many tire repair people recieve. The jobs are given to the lowest people on the dispatch list. You really want a expert repairing your tires but how do you justify using a expensive employee for a task you charge very little for? (I know get sued and find out).

If I wanted to be a skeptic, I would answer that this is what they felt that they could get away with.

From my viewpoint as a 60 year old engineer is that it’s profit and not safety that’s driving this. Manufacturers restricted repairs as much as they can get away with. The tire manufacture’s have repair guidelines provide instructions for repairing some damage because there is a clear line that manufacturers can’t cross and that’s the central tread zone. There would be consumer class action lawsuits if they restricted repairs any further. The tire manufacturer’s get to make more money while reducing their liability and risk while restricting tire repairs. I expect that they’ve lobbied for legislation that dramatically increases liability for any shop that doesn’t comply with their guidelines. It’s a big financial win for them while claiming they are making us “safer”.

Manufacturers regularly ignore know safety issues all the time when it costs them more fix than the anticipated liability. That’s how we got exploding Pintos that would have cost $11 per car to fix. Explorers that kill people because it was cheaper to under inflate the tires than lower the center of gravity to and GM pickup trucks with gas tanks that got gushed fuel in a side impact leading to fires and explosions years later to avoid similarly low costs. It was only after extensive bad press and lawsuits that each company recalled the vehicles.

When I was younger, only sidewall punctures weren’t “reparable”. Most shops would put on interior patch for a small puncture and you could drive on it until it worn out unless the didn’t prep it right or you ran on it really low for an extended distance. Even then, you’d only have a leak again. The only potential for a blowout was if you ran at very low pressure for an extended time and this had nothing to with the patch. That’s primary hazard of any tire patch failure. Plugs are a different matter because they have a direct impact on the structure of the tire.

Restricting the zone of repair to the shoulder area of the tread surface makes even less sense in a time when low pressure warning is almost universal unless manufacturers have been cutting corners on the “corners” of the tires they make. I know my non-reparable puncture was from a 1/32" pneumatic trim “nail” (really a stiff wire) I was surprised it made it through the the shoulder.

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You might have a point to some degree if the U.S. was not such a litigation happy country.

Some may remember the Goodyear(?) store that patched a tire and months later the tire blew out, the van rolled, and there were fatalities involved. Odds are the tire pressure was low and that was what caused the failure; not the patch.
However, the judgment against the facility was something like 12 million dollars if I remember the story correctly.


As a 60 year old engineer (from a tire engineer with over 40 years experience), you’ve completely discounted the physical effect the puncture has on the structure. I’m sure you’ve heard about it - it’s called stress concentrators. The reason the outer edges of the tire are excluded from repair is because that is where the highest concentration of stresses exist in a tire.

Further, a patch is supposed to “bridge” the hole - that is reinforce the area to account for the stress concentration. In the excluded area, the patch is being bent, making adhesion sketchy. Lower down the sidewall, the peculiar movement of the sidewall makes a patch much more likely to detach.

So how do we tire engineers know this? Because we conduct tests. We’ve seen punctures in the outer tread ribs cause failures - of the same type as the Explorer situation you referred to.


Did you see the video a guy posted where he mounted a camera inside of his tire and drove around. The perspective is astounding and so is the amount of deflection and stress encountered by the tire. And that wasn’t even close to worst case.