Do auto stores sell tire puncture repair kits? Or, is it a thing of the past? During my drive to and from work, I pass many construction sites. It’s almost unavoidable. I’m tired (no pun intended) of frequently taking a tire to the local mechanic to have a nail removed and replaced with a plug. I’d like to do it myself. If stores do sell them, are they any good? Or, should I continue to let the pros do it?
You can still get rope plugs (which is what you are thinking of) at Walmart, but this is not considered a good way to repair your tires. They are more considered an emergency, last resort kind of measure. Basically, yes, they still exist, yes, you can buy them easily, but no, I would not use them. Tire shops do not use these any more because they do not hold up well, tend to leak, and can fail suddenly. They are not worth it in my book, which is why I don’t have any in my garage. If I pick up a nail, I take the car or wheel/tire to a tire shop and have them fix it properly.
They are easily available. I actually keep one in our van for a quick roadside repair (the van also has a built in compressor, though mini 12V compressors are easily had).
But like mark9207 said, its not a reliable repair. I just keep them for emergency use. I had to use it once. It was handy. But these still do require a real repair - that is a removal of tire and a plug combined with an internal patch. The tire then has to be rebalanced.
Yes, Cord type plugs are available and yes, they work fine if correctly used…Where a lot of people get into trouble with them is they fail to plug the original hole…Instead they make a new hole with the probe and then plug that… This is indeed a formula for disaster…Steel-belted radial tires can be very difficult to plug properly so it’s just not done much anymore…
I’ve had properly done plugs fail.
I use rope plugs; have for years. They work for the life of the tire about 90% of the time. If one should leak, pull it out and install another and you should be good to go. The rope plug needs to be wetted with the rubber cement that comes with most kits. As was mentioned, it is important to observe the angle of the puncturing object when pulling it out so you can install the plug at the same angle. I try to avoid using the round file hole enlarging tool that comes with a rope plug kit. You should not attempt to plug a hole in the tread that is closer than about an inch from the sidewall. It is said that this area of a tire flexes too much for a plug to last. I want to try it some time. Rope plugs that have leaked for me did not let go suddenly but instead leaked slowly.
I have used mushroom plugs 3 or 4 times; had a leak once with one of those. The tire had an embossed pattern inside that apparently made it difficult for the the bottom side of the mushroom to seal. I replaced it with a rope plug and then all was well.
If you don’t do it right, if you don’t follow the puncturing object exactly and leave a hole in the tires air-liner, air will get into and between the cord ply’s and cause ply separation…Plugs work best for nails in the middle of the tread that go more or less straight in…A probe/reamer must be used to create a path for the plug. Some types of plugs need rubber cement, some don’t…If there is any doubt, break down the tire and inspect the inside of the casing for damage and the exact location of the hole…
The well-equipped shade-tree mechanic will have an air compressor, a bead-breaker, a pair of tire irons and a tire mallet…With these simple tools, tires can be mounted and dismounted in a few minutes…
Around here a few tire (chains) places actually repair tires free and PROPERLY. They actually dismount the tire and patch from the interior and remount the tire. It floors me they do this free. However I guess the opportunity to advertise themselves/services and also potential sale of tire(s) is made.
A place called Tire Warehouse along with Town Fair Tire does it. Both are New England chains.
Town Fair Tire is a sleaze outfit. I wouldn’t trust them to add air to my tires. They are the closest tire shop near me…and I drive 30 miles past them to buy tires or have them repaired. Don’t have a Tire Warehouse near me so I can’t comment on how good they are.
At the dealership I work at they still use rope plugs, and I have always used rope plugs with no issues… I have never had one fail yet, but Its all a matter of location. Where is the plug compaired to the side wall/tred of the tire.
I’ve had poor experiences with both Town Fair Tire and Tire Warehouse. Town Fair Tire has done work that I did not authorize or need, and Tire Warehouse has mounted the wrong size tires…the size they had on hand rather than the correct tires. And Tire Wearhouse can’t balance tires worth a squat.
Clearly a patch is better, but I have to admit that I’ve used rope plus alone for as long as I can remember and never had a problem. I think the key is proper installation and recognizing when they’ll be insufficient (like too clos to a sidewall).
In some ways, rope plugs are superior to patches. I couldn’t see patches repairing something like this:
I’ve used rope plugs in my tires for 35 years. Of all the tires I’ve ever plugged using them I think I’ve had one failure and that was in a larger hole. I usually don’t use the reamer either, just remove the object from the tire and put the plug in.
Side walls should never be repaired, except to get the car to a safe place here the tire can be changed. I put a rope plug in one of my tires and it held for over a month. But another puncture occurred at the edge of the tread and I had to replace the tire. It’s a good thing both holes were in the same tire.
I never expected such an overwhelming response. I thank all of you for your help!
I reep rope plug kits in both cars to fix a flat on the roar. If the tire is less than 1/2 worn, I then get it patched from the inside. If it is more worn I just leave the plug.
I’m to old to be messing with tire irons unless it’s on a bicycle.
Always had good luck with them,but with that being said some shops refuse to do this anymore on account of liability issues.For the Poster who had balanceing woes nexttime watch the tech who does it.My Brother had a guy put around 6 oz of weights in one spot on almost new tires on his Tundra,good grief!-Kevin
I used a rope plug once, when a tire found a horseshoe nail up a forest road. It held for a few years, then started leaking about a pound/week; I had it patched. It was nice to be able to fix it out in the boonies; I carry a kit all the time - easy, considering I’ve used it only once. I hope it’s still good.