Of all the tire puncture solutions I have come across, using the plug is one of the quickest. It only takes seconds to fill the hole and prevent the tire from fully deflating.
Tire plugs are not meant to be a permanent fix and should only be driven on for as long as it takes to get to a repair shop for a more permanent repair. Depending on the location of the puncture, a plug and patch kit may be used to fix the damage and can last for several years.
Tire plugs can really get you out of a jam when used correctly. They are easy to install and work well in most cases, but they aren’t for every problem. Here’s what you need to know before installing one yourself!
What Is a Tire Plug?
Tire plugs have been around since the early 1800s when travelers used items like tree roots or metal wire as an emergency repair on punctures that could not be patched from within.
Tire plugging has come a long way now though: there is no guesswork involved anymore. All it takes is for you to insert the plug into your tire’s hole from the outside of your car or bike’s tire!
When using this technique, no matter where you are on earth; as long as there’s air available – which we all know isn’t difficult in most places- then repairing that puncture will be much easier than before with just about any toolbox full of handy items.
Tire Plug; Is It Permanent?
Whether tire plugs are temporary or permanent is a debatable topic by some. The design of tire plugs can vary, but most plug types are temporary and only meant to temporarily fix a punctured or flat.
Although they can help temporarily plug the hole to prevent air from escaping, it’s not something that’s going to hold up to the wear of tens of thousands of miles as are seen on most tires.
Trying to use a standalone tire plug as a permanent solution is simply not worth the risk. Having a tire blowout at a high speed on a highway could lead to a deadly accident and is simply too preventable (and cheap) to prevent.
One should always take their plugged tire to the mechanic to have a proper patch installed that provides a more permanent seal around the damaged area. In order for you to be on the safe side with repairing your tires, it is best that they remain as short-term solutions rather than long-term ones
How Long Can You Drive on Plugged Tires?
The million-dollar question is, how long can you use plugged tires? Well, it all depends on the size of the puncture.
Although it’s possible to drive with a plugged tire for up to several years, it is not entirely safe. Most safety experts will warn you against this and advise you to replace your tires as soon as possible.
Tire plugs are not meant to be permanent fixes to your punctured tires; instead, they are to help you drive safely to your nearest tire shop for you to get a permanent fix.
Is a Plugged Tire Safe?
If you use your plugged tire for a short amount of time, you should not encounter any significant safety risks. A well-installed plug should keep the air from leaking out of your tire long enough to get you to a tire shop.
The only catch is to ensure that you follow the correct procedure if you’re new to tire plugging and ensure that the plug has no defect.
A defective plug will not work, or even worse, it may only work temporarily and fail while driving. If you are in doubt, it is best to get a professional to plug your tire for you.
Can You Plug It Yourself?
Plugging a tire is pretty simple. If you are in a place where tire shops are inaccessible and have to repair your tire, follow these steps, and you will get your tire nicely plugged.
All you will need to plug your tire is a plug kit.
- Locate the object that is lodged into your tire and pull it out. You can use a pair of pliers for this
- Insert the rasp tool into the hole to ensure it is clean and create a firmer hold for the plug
- Jam in your plug using the insertion tool, ensuring you leave out a portion (½ inches) of the plug
- Trim out the portion you left out
- Pump air into your tire and check for any leaks using soap solution. If there is none, then you are good to go.
Can You Plug a Tire Twice?
Plugging your tire twice is never a good idea. Tire experts recommend that tires should only be plugged once, after which you may want to replace the tire.
Replacing a plugged tire will save you the risk of a blowout and ensure you drive safely on your wheels.
Patch or Plug?
If you are wondering what method works best between a plug and a patch, here’s the thing; both are great depending on the damage!
Patches are often the preferred method for tire repair because professionals and not just amateurs do them. To repair a patch, you will need to part with plenty of money.
The tire experts will remove your tire from your car, inspect it to find the leak, and patch it from the inside out to ensure the patch is secure. The intricate process will ensure that your tire expert leaves nothing to chance.
On the other hand, Tire plugs are slightly easier to fix and can be done by anyone. They will cost you slightly lower compared to tire patches. They also take a relatively shorter time since one does not have to remove the tire from the car to insert the plug.
If you are sure that you will replace your tire, it is best to go for a plug. Patches will suit you if you are looking for a slightly more permanent solution.
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.
When to Replace Your Tire
No matter how great your plugged tire looks or feels, it would help if you made plans to replace it as soon as possible. However, you can drive around with plugged tires for a while, however, do not exceed the recommended month.
Alternatively, you may want to consult your tire specialist and get their opinion on the state and condition of your tires.
It may be very frustrating to replace a tire that you bought recently. However, you will find it much simpler if you consider the safety benefits that come with a new tire.
The best thing about replacing tires is that you do not have to buy brand new ones. You could get your car tires that have been slightly used, and they will serve the same purpose.
As you have seen, there are plenty of dos and don’ts surrounding tire plugging. The main don’t, however, lies in not making tire plugs your permanent fix. Have that in mind the next time a nail jams through your tire.