Why are people nervous about tire plugs?

Just this afternoon, I was in the yard and the mail lady was coming down the road and stopped, she had a almost flat tire. I talked to her and found out she had been loosing air all morning and already filled it up once. I offered to put more air in it and when I did I could hear the air hissing out. I found a nail in the tire and offered to plug it. I plugged it, refilled the tire and all was well. I told her she probably should have a tire shop patch it, however I have run plugs for 50k miles with no trouble. The mail vehicle which is a buick park ave. never runs more than 45 mph and then its for a short distance, I told her to be safe she should have it fixed the right way asap. I charged her 25 dollars and she was on her way. (JOKING. I didn’t charge her anything, though she did ask.)

I have plugged so many tires its not funny. I have had plugs that leaked a bit right from the get go, but if they held from the start I never have had them fail.
I have plugged the sidewall of an old jeep that never seen road duty. I have plugged the sidewall of my truck to get home, but I did replace the tire, ok I lied, I had my mechanic (the same one that used to reline my brake shoes) patch the sidewall which is a no no and it never failed.

I have a atv with over 10 plugs in one tire, it is ridden at 25mph at times, it has over 1000 miles on the plugged up mess of a tire.

My method is this…I always take my time and ream out the hole really good and really use alot of rubber cement on the plug. It is my opinion if time is taken to ream the hole really well you will have good results.

Have you ever had a plug fail? Whats the bad rap with plugs?




Well after looking at that article, I think I would rather have a plug than just a patch. I agree the Plug N Patch is the best way. But plugs have always worked for me.

I’ve had tires plugged on two occasions. Never had a problem with them. With that said, if given a choice I’ll take a patch if it’s available. Also I probably wouldn’t trust a tire with ten plugs in it, no matter what kind of vehicle it was on. For a passenger car I probably would discard the tire if it needed more than one plug.


The tire with 10 plugs on it is mostly ridden at 5-8mph most of the time. I do agree its stupid, its a atv I use for mowing so it goes slow. Every once in a while I will goose it and get up to 25.

Today’s protocal on tire repair often rightfully combines plug/ patch and only in areas with substantial tread support. As we speak I have one in a vehicle I regularly drive over 70 mph. No problems.

I’ve had patches and plugs done and did them myself as I worked in a gas station while a senior in high school.
Do a net search for lawsuits about tire repairs and it’s a miracle that anyone on the planet would even consider touching a tire for any reason.

It’s a different legal climate.

Please no more talk of plugs or patches. I’m just back from double hernia surgery. I don’t know if he used a plug but he sure used a couple patches. Plugs used to be OK but were not perfect. Patches were better, but the best is a combo patch and plug.

I’ve been plugging tires for many years, for my self, friends and family.
Only time I had trouble was a plug developed a slow leak after driving across Texas and Arizona in August at 85mph.

I’ve patched plenty of tires for our fleet’s various vehicles

All the trucks go on the freeway and they haven’t had any setbacks due to the repair

No patches have come off, and in southern California it gets plenty hot . . .

But I do agree that the patch/plug combo is the better way to go, if you have a choice

And I don’t install those string plugs, unless I’m specifically told to do so

I have used a plug inserting tool that forced a mushroom shaped plug into the tire and the button head would pull back and seal against the inner liner. There was never a problem with tires that were plugged with that method but I was never in the tire repair business and only repaired them when flats occurred on a car or truck at the shop for other repairs. A proper repair is at least 1/2 hour labor with the proper equipment. The price would be significant.


The only problem I see with what you just mentioned is that the tire wasn’t properly scuffed for that mushroom plug to adhere

The tire really needs to be scuffed
The tire cement is put on the scuffed area, and allowed to set until tacky
The patch or mushroom plug is installed
The patch or mushroom plug is stitched over, so that it really seats

Preferably, I would break down the tire/rim assembly and do a proper repair

That’s 1/2 hour of labor, @db4690. But yes, you describe the proper method to repair a punctured tubeless tire.

There are some ingenious devices on the market that can plug a tire somewhat successfully without removing it from the wheel but nothing is as certain as a hot patch installed on a buffed and primed liner. Tires are often patched at the factory and the repair is difficult, if not impossible to detect.

No tire manufacturer approves the use of a rope plug or insert to repair a tire. The main reason is that it doesn’t include dismounting the tire and inspecting the inside for damage.

Around here (meaning me), the charge to patch a tire on a standard passenger tire comes to just under $30. You’d be surprised how many people drive away on a spare or even on a flat because “that’s too much to throw a plug in a tire.”

Having said that, I spent some years working at places that used the rope-style plugs. If the puncture is straight and clean, the item is easily removed, and the tire has not been run significantly low, I have no problems with a plug.

Where you can get into trouble with plugs is when you don’t plug the original hole. Instead you make a new hole with the probe / reamer and you plug the hole you just made. You seal the original hole at the tread, but inside the tire, there are now two holes, the original one the the one you made and plugged…Air does not escape, you think the repair is good, but air will slowly be forced between the cord plies and belts, separating them…A week or a month later the tire will fail…I prefer the “Radial Plugs”, a length heavy tire cord impregnated with self-curing rubber. I insert them dry, no extra rubber cement. Follow the directions on the package…I never plug a tire that I didn’t see and remove the puncturing object. That way I can easily follow the puncture path with the probe and reamer. Otherwise, you are just guessing about the angle of the puncture path and it’s very easy to miss the path and make a second hole in the air-liner, a recipe for disaster…Also, if you can’t find the puncturing object, it might be inside the tire, another guaranteed failure…

@bscar; get well fast and don’t forget some laxatives (to prevent plugging!).

Been using rope plugs 40+ years. I have a landscape trailer rated for 2 ton that has one now and at least a few times a year hits that maximum. If done right no worries but that’s the key with anything. As a business with liability you’d be nuts to recommend anything short of the most comprehensive repair. This type of litigous climate has raised costs for consumers across the board…

Just to put things in perspective:

If we use the Ford / Firestone situation a few years back as a gauge as to what level of failure is NOT acceptable in tires (and therefore, tire repairs), the failure rate seems to be 1/2%. That’s one out of 200. I don’t think even folks who plug tires for a living would be able to perceive a number that low.

And for personal experience, I’ve had 4 tires plugged and 2 of them leaked, so I’m experiencing a 50% failure rate (and, no, I didn’t do any of them.) You could say that I am more than making up for those who say they’ve never had one leak.

It seems no one has has a horror story with using plugs. I think one person said they had one fail and start leaking. I have used plugs for a long time, the rope style kind that is. I think the key is you have to make sure you go in the existing hole with the reamer, and make sure you get out whatever caused the hole.

I have always reamed the hole, however it seems people here have had good luck without reaming.

I will be interested to see if the mail lady has her tire fixed “properly”. Again I did tell her the plug was temporary, Although I eluded to the fact I have used Tire plugs temporarily for 50k miles. The repair I did on her tire was on a nail, with the head gone. It at least got her thru her mail route if anything.

Lets here it for our old forgotten friend…The Rope Style Tire Plug.

Like someone stated above, it’s happened that the kid working the night shift at the corner service station actually makes the problem worse by not removing the nail, making a new hole next to the old one, plugging a tire that has obvious sidewall damage from being run flat, etc. The average driver just gets in the car and goes without even a glance to the tires. Next thing you know the tire is low, blows out on the freeway, and you’ve got a $22 lawsuit on your hands.

The other thing is blowouts are more dangerous these days because collectively we are losing the ability to drive cars. As a kid I was in the car for blowouts. I doubt my kids will have the same experience. Tires and cars have become so much better. On the highway, around the corner, on a gravel road, 20mph or 70, it was just something that happened. And by the time I was about 14 years old I already knew what to do, even what the car felt like a few seconds before it happened. Do they even teach that in driver’s ed anymore? Schools around here don’t even have driver’s ed anymore. We’ve got tire monitors, stability control, parking assist, etc., and I think all that has cocooned us into a false sense of safety. I don’t think people in general can drive as well as they could in the past. A blowout used to be a fact of driving. Now it can be deadly.