Using plugs in tire leaks

One of my tires had two small punctures about a quarter inch apart one plug didn’t stop the leak so another was put in beside it. I feel uncomfortable about having so many plugs so close together. What do you think?

If these tires are on your riding lawnmower, I wouldn’t worry. If they are on your automobile that you drive on the highway, I would replace the tire.

If done properly the plug will probably outlast the tire.

I think you have a right to feel uncomfortable.

First, plugs have a number of problems:

  1. They don’t always stay air tight. This happens often enough that some folks don’t use them for this reason alone. The real problem is that there is a risk that the tire may fail unexpectedly due to the leak. Patches hardly ever leak.

  2. You don’t know what other damage has been done to the tire unless you look inside. If the tire was extremely underinflated, the sidewall could be damaged and sometimes the only indication is inside.

  3. There could be structural damage to the belt wires or the ply cords. Patches reinforce the area and bridge the hole, where plugs can’t do that.

In your case, 2 punctures in close proximity could be a real structural problem, so it would be best to replace the tire.

Plug With A Patch!

I like the repair technique that uses a combination plug/patch that goes on from inside with sealant and the plug portion is pulled through the hole from outside. The patch is a pretty good size and really seals.

I have never personally had a plug leak or fail, however if you’re concerned about having two so close together I like the suggestion of a patch to supplement the plugs. A patch will provide reinforcement to the structural integrity of that spot and is an affordable solution.

Actually its the plug that supplies the reinforcement to the structural integrity of the spot, the patch provides the leak proof seal. You should have both for a complete repair.

I have purchased BRAND SPANKING NEW tires that have suffered blowouts. I have purchased USED tires on EBAY that have performed perfectly. I have had plugs and multiple plugs in tires that went on to perform perfectly; and I am what you might call a “competitive” daily commuter (1 hour each way to work and back). Competitive meaning I do 85mph like everyone else and jockey for position like all the other crazies out there. I have used tires until the metal is showing and still no problem. This is all to say… I’m 98% sure you will have no problem with your “plugged” tire. If you are concerned about the 2% chance that your tire will fail, then I will further suggest that if it fails, the failure will probably present as a slow leak, to which at that point you may just bite the bullet and buy a new tire. Otherwise, just drive it as normal and you’ll have no problem.

Plugs are a perfectly appropriate way to repair small punctures and they usually outlast the tire. A patch applied to the inside of the tire is a little better, but takes a lot more time and money for a repair that is only a little better.

That being said, when the plug failed to hold on one of the punctures, I would have removed the tire from the rim and put a patch on the inside over that plug.

Since it is done now, if it is holding, I’d drive it until the tire wears out. It will probably be fine. If you are uncomfortable, pay someone to remove the tire and put patches over both plugs. Don’t throw away the tire.

I think that some of you are missing an essential feature of the problem. I think that there were not two punctures, but one. The first plug could not fill the hole, the first plug was defective itself or it was not properly installed. Maybe the hole was/is ragged.

I live in an urban area and for several years it has been riddled with roofing nails (due to Katrina). I don’t have so much of a problem with patch plugs any more. I still will not accept tire repair with just plug insertion without opening the tire for inspection. Driving with a tire that required two plugs in the same place would give me serious willies. As Capri wrote, two holes that close together should give everyone pause as well.