In this guide, we will show you how to plug a tire. This is a simple procedure and works for just about any vehicle. Plugs are a great thing to keep in a vehicle in an emergency. Knowing how to plug a tire can be the difference between being able to keep driving or being stranded with a flat tire.
Plugs are also great in situations where a tire can not be patched due to the puncture’s location, and although getting a new tire is still recommended, it can help out in a pinch. Most of the time, a tire can be plugged without ever taking the tire off of the vehicle.
What you will need
To plug a tire while the wheel is still on the car, you will need:
- Tire Plug Kit
- Portable Air Compressor 12 Volt
- Cutters/knife (optional)
If you need to remove the tire from the car, you will need the following as well:
- Floor jack
- Torque wrench
Tire plug kits that include the rasp, insertion, and plugs together are inexpensive and can be purchased.
Follow this procedure to plug a tire if the leak is not obvious:
- Loosen the lug nuts/studs of the wheel on the ground with the tire iron.
- Jack the tire off the ground and set the vehicle on jack stands.
- Remove the lug nuts or studs. Remove the wheel from the vehicle.
- Locate the hole in the tire. If it is difficult to find the hole, ensure air in the tire and spray with a soapy water solution. Look for any bubbles forming to find the hole. If there is a nail or screw in the tire, remove it with the pliers.
- Take the reaming tool and push it through the hole. This can require great effort when the hole is small; use your body weight pushing down toward the ground to puncture the tire. Work the reamer in and out of the hole 10-20 times to clean it and prepare it for inserting the plug.
- Take a fresh plug and insert it halfway through the eyelet of the insertion tool. With a plugin, the insertion tool pushes the plug through the hole in the tire. Once the plug is completely in the tire’s hole, about a 1/4-1/2 inch inserted, pull the tool out, and the plug will stay.
- Cut off any excess plug sticking out of the tire. It is okay to leave it also; it will wear off on its own after driving.
- Air up the tire to the recommended pressure and spray the hole to check for leaks; if the plug job is successful, put the tire back on the vehicle.
- Put the lug nuts or studs back on and snug them down.
- Jack the car up and remove the jack stands. Lower the car down so there is a little weight on the tire.
- Torque the wheel nuts to the recommended specs.
- Lower the car the rest of the way down and remove the jack.
The air leak may be at the valve if you cannot find a nail. Remove the valve cap, spray water at the cap, and inspect for leaks.
The sidewalls of the tire should not be plugged in.
Plug a Tire While it is still on the Car.
It is possible to plug a car tire while still on the vehicle. Follow this procedure if the hole is exposed with the wheel on the vehicle:
- Position the tire by either driving it or putting it in neutral and rolling it to get to a comfortable position where the hole can be worked on.
- Use the pliers to remove any nail or foreign object from the tire.
- Follow the same procedures starting at step 5 above for plugging the hole. It can be a bit more difficult to do this with the hole not being as easy to get to as when the tire is off the vehicle. This situation is not ideal but can be done if a jack or tire iron is unavailable.
- Once the hole is plugged, air up the tire and check for leaks. If no leaks are spotted, you’re done!
Is it safe to drive with a plugged tire?
A plugged tire is not ideal, but many outlast the tire’s life. Keep an eye on a freshly plugged tire and see if it leaks. It may last the tire’s life if it doesn’t leak over an extended period. A proper patch plug is intended for more long-term and permanent use.
How long does a tire plug last?
A tire plug usually lasts the tire’s life, over 40,000 miles.
Should I use a patch plug or plug on my tire?
If the hole is inside the tire’s middle tread section and not the shoulder, it is ideal to use a patch plug. If the hole is in the shoulder, a patch plug can not be used due to how it works. If possible, get the tire to a shop to use a patch plug without having to put in a plug. The reamer may make the hole too big for a patch plug; some shops may not even attempt to repair the tire with a plug in it. It is ideal to have a patch plug because they are a more successful permanent repair.
Can you plug a run-flat tire?
A run-flat tire can be repaired only if you do not drive on a flat tire. If you drive on a run-flat tire that has lost air, the tire should be replaced and not plugged in.
How much to plug a flat tire?
The average cost to plug a tire is between $15 and $30. Some tire shops do not offer this service. Instead, they remove the tire and patch it from the inside.
Where can I fix a flat tire?
Tire shops such as NTB National Tire, Pep Boys, Mr. Tire, and Discount Tire stores will fix your flat tire. Note that a tire shop will remove the tire and patch it. It is rare for a tire shop to use this method to fix a flat tire.
We hope you find the How to Plug a Tire Yourself guide helpful. Check these troubleshooting and repair guides for more help on your vehicle.
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