is it better to patch or plug a flat tire.

Both, actually.

The type of repair that the major tire companies recommend is done from the inside of the tire, and it is essentially a patch with a plug attached to it. This way, the hole in the tread area is better-sealed against water intrusion, and the puncture in the inner liner is much more secure and less likely to leak air.

A plug by itself is considered to be a temporary repair, even if they do usually work for an eternity. And, an interior patch by itself can allow water to seep into the steel belts and cause damage to them. Thus, the combination patch/plug is a better repair.

Not every tire shop will do this type of repair, but it is worthwhile to find one that does.
More than likely, a Goodyear shop will do this type of repair, and I know that Goodyear will repair any make of tire.

If you’re doing this repair yourself, you need to be sure the hole is safely repairable. It needs to be a certain distance from the sidewall, for instance.

It’s getting more and more difficult to have a tire repaired. It seems like tire shops have a dozen reasons why the tire can’t be repaired and you need to buy a new tire…Oh, wait, you have AWD? Sorry, you will need 4 new tires…

Having recently had a tire repair, the mechanic informed me that not only is a tire patch / plug combination used, but it must be withing the confines of the tread, well away from the edges which years ago, were patched.

The other side to what Caddyman mentioned is that it’s also getting difficult to get people to pay for a tire repair. To properly patch a tire, rebalance it and put it back on the car, put away the spare, and check the other 3 tires can easily take 15-20 minutes even if you’re hustling. With labor rates approaching $100/hr, well…you’d be surprised how many people drive away on the spare rather than pay $25 for a tire patch.

It sure is nice to find a tire shop you can trust. I had no problem paying $25 to plug a tire that had picked up a screw at a local shop. I’ve had a couple of tires cut that they told me could not be patched. Maybe I trust them because its a family shop, not a chain, maybe I’m gullible. But they did not insist I get speed rated tires for my 4 cylinder Toyota that rarely if ever hits 75.

A tire shop that is willing to repair the tire correctly rather than insist that you need a new tire is worth your business in my opinion, Costco includes flat repairs as part of it’s warranty and at least one other competitor in my area does as well.

Considering the number of bloodsucking attorneys, people wanting to cash in on big business, and juries who see it the same way, I’m surprised that anyone on Earth would ever volunteer to do anything to any tire made.

Case in point. The roughly 30 million dollar award on a fatality accident that was “caused by a bad tire repair” even though it’s stated that the reason for the tire failure was unknown.

Most tire failures are due to one of several things; running them bald or underinflation.