Factor #1: How They Work

How does a tire plug work?

A tire plug is a strip of leather covered in a rubber compound, which is inserted into the hole and typically seals on the inside of the tire.

How does a tire patch work?

A patch is a piece of rubber with an adhesive back that is stuck onto the inside of the tire. They’re typically stronger than plugs but require more work.

Note that there is also the tire plug-patch, which hybridizes both.

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Factor2: When They Can Be Used

When is it OK to put a plug on a tire? When deciding whether to plug or patch a tire, the size of the hole and the placement of the hole are important considerations. To insert a plug, one must first walk over the nail or screw that has been caused by the treading. Plugs are used to close minor holes that are not close to the walls.

  • If your tire has a puncture anywhere near the sidewall, do not attempt to repair it. If the hole in your tire is strangely formed, don’t try to fill it. If there is a huge hole or a thick nail in your tire, don’t try to fill it. It is not advisable to plug your tire if you have driven the tire for more than a mile when it was flat, since this may indicate that the sidewalls have been damaged. You should not plug your tire if there is a bubble or bulge in the rubber on the sidewall
  • Instead, replace the tire. If your tire is on the verge of needing another repair, don’t plug it. Make sure that you remove your tire from the wheel before plugging it.

When is it appropriate to fix a tire? Tires are normally patched when a hole is smaller than a quarter-inch in diameter, but the location of the puncture is also important to consider. Patches are preferable over plugs in the case of larger holes, holes that are closer to the sidewall but not the sidewall itself, and holes that are not perfectly straight. It’s important to note that if you’re wanting to undertake tire sidewall repair, a patch will almost never suffice, and you’ll almost always need to replace the tire.

  • If the damage is close to the sidewall of the tire, do not fix it. If the tire is at an unusual angle, it should not be patched. If the hole in the tire is more than a quarter of an inch, it should not be patched. If the sidewalls of your tire are already damaged, you should not fix them. If there is a bubble or bulge in the rubber on the sidewall of your tire, you should not repair it. Avoid patching your tire if there is already a patch in place on the tire at a nearby location. Remove your tire off the wheel and inspect it for any additional holes or problems before patching it.

Typically, a patch will require the services of a professional, although a tire plug may be attempted by many owners on their own.

When Not to Plug

Tire plugs will not always work in all circumstances. There are times when using a plug will cause more harm than good. In such situations, the ideal thing is to let a professional deal with the leak. 

Here are some of the instances when you may need more than just a plug;

#1 Multiple Holes

Although you can fix tires with multiple holes, if the holes are within 16 inches of each other, it is not advisable to patch or plug them. In such a case, you will need to replace your tires. 

Also, do not try to fix huge cuts on your tire, as your efforts may be futile or lead to more harm than good. 

#2 Holes on Tire Wall

Never plug or patch your tire if the hole is on the walls. These repair methods are only safe to be used on the treads. Using them on the walls will only pose unnecessary risks. 

#3 ¼-Inch or More Diameter

For you to plug your tire, ensure that the diameter of the hole in question is less than ¼ inches. It is not safe to plug a hole that is wider than that.

An Improper Repair May Void Your Tire Warranty

Another consideration while driving on a blocked tire is the possibility that your repair would void the manufacturer’s warranty on the tire in question. Improper repair and maintenance will almost always result in the voiding of your warranty. Next time you consider doing a tire repair on your own, consider the consequences of doing so first. The best course of action when it comes to the safety of your car is always to leave it to the professionals. It is possible to be certain that your tire repair was completed correctly and that your manufacturer’s warranty is still in effect if you get your tire fixed by a licensed technician.

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Can you plug a tire twice?

You are really not recommended to try plugging a tire more than once. Despite this advice, some people still do it. But is that really safe? Well, for what it is worth, if you already have a plugin for your tire, a second plug is naturally going to increase the chance of more damage subsequently, right? There are repair shops that will not do a second repair if the holes are in close proximity to each other. However, such repair shops may give you the option of a replacement tire,  if it is covered in your warranty agreement.

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You’re Better Off Replacing The Tire

In the event of a flat tire from a nail or screw, the best course of action is always to replace the tire. A plug or patch for your tire may help tide you over until you can have it replaced, but it’s important to remember that a plug is meant to be a temporary fix.

While it may be tempting to see how far you can get with a five-dollar repair, the consequences of a plugged tire failing will be much worse than if you had replaced the tire in the first place.

If you just purchased a tire or recently bought a set of expensive tires, it can be a frustrating experience. If this is the case and you hope the tire can be saved, it may be worth it to have it inspected by a professional.

The TIA-certified tire experts at Tread Connection know how to properly diagnose, inspect, and repair flat tires. When you work with Tread Connection for your flat repair, the tire will be removed from the wheel and carefully inspected inside and out. This helps us ensure whether or not it can be safely repaired.

If the tire can be repaired, our team will take care of it for you. In the event that your tire cannot be safely repaired, our team will recommend a replacement from our wide range of tires to find the right one for your needs, and your budget.

Is it safe to drive with a plugged tire?

Yes, it is, provided it is not for a long distance and is also for a short period of time too. In addition to this, you are not advised to drive with a plugged tire if the size of the puncture is close to or within the sidewall of the tire.

Furthermore, do not drive on any tire with a plug that seals a hole of more than 1/4 inch in diameter. Finally, you are also not advised to drive with a plugged tire on a vehicle that is carrying much load or anything that may overwhelm the strength of the already weakened tires.

Can a Plug Do More Harm than Good?

The most serious issue with driving on a plugged tire is that it still has a hole in it! While this may be a workaround, it's vital to remember that your tire still has a structural problem that needs to be addressed.

It seems to reason that a blocked tire will not be able to withstand the same amount of stress and strain as a tire in optimum condition. This is especially true when driving on the highway at higher speeds. Once a tire has been fixed, the manufacturer will no longer maintain its speed rating. A blocked tire will not work if you plan on racing, off-roading, or just want to speed up.

The minor puncture will likely get larger over time. As a result, you'll lose more air, and your vehicle will be prone to a blowout on the road. Furthermore, the plug could fail while you're driving, leaving you right back where you started.

Factor #3: How Long They Last

How long does a tire plug last?

Companies claim that a properly installed plug can last seven to ten years or typically 25,000 miles, but that’s not the case if there isn’t a proper seal or if the plug hasn’t been properly installed.

How long does a patched tire last?

Like with plugs, patches are said to last from seven to ten years or for the rest of the life of the tire. Again, this tire may not last if the installation goes poorly or there are issues with the location of the hole.

Can I Plug Tire Without Taking It Off?

Yes, you can plug a tire without taking it off your car. As long as you can push and pull on the tire head-on you can repair it. You have to remove the nail or shard that punctured your tire so make sure you can rotate the tire into a position you have enough leverage to do this.

Then you will have to run a reem in and out of the hole in a provocative manner and this can require some elbow grip. I prefer to rotate a tire so the puncture is facing the end of the vehicle. If it is on the rear you will want to angle the puncture towards the trunk and in the front, angle the tire towards the front bumper.

That way you can fix the tire without having to put your body under a major portion of the vehicle or your arms inside the wheel well. This is the safest way you can plug a tire without taking it off. You will have enough leverage to remove the puncture and insert the tire plug.

Pro Tip: Keep a simple repair kit in your trunk. Don’t forget gloves, reflective triangles, and wet wipes. They come in handy for many uses.

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