How Long Will a Tire Plug Last? And Is It Safe?

Tire punctures can be annoying and inconvenient, especially when you don’t have a spare wheel in the trunk. Fortunately, many quick fixes exist for such situations, including tire plugging. But how long does it last?

Tire plugging is a temporary quick fix but can last 5-7 years if done perfectly. This means it can even outlive some tire brands. Also, it is easy to plug tires using the right tools.

So, what is a tire plug? Is it safe to plug a tire, and how do you do it to ensure the patch is fully patched? Continue reading to learn everything about tire plugging.

What is a Tire Plug, and Is It Safe?

A tire plug is a strip of leather covered in rubber stuffed inside a tire at the puncture point from the outside. If done perfectly, it seals the tire from the inside, preventing air from escaping.

The plug forms a strong bond with the tire’s material. This keeps it sealed and prevents pressurized air inside from escaping.

But how safe is driving a car with a plugged tire? Generally, tire plugging is a temporary fix to punctures, and the tire needs a professional inspection to confirm its safety.

A plugged tire might be unsafe, especially when going on a long trip or at highway speeds. The method may also not be appropriate for all puncture types. Its effectiveness depends on the damage and location.

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But as mentioned, tire plugging can be effective when done perfectly on an appropriate puncture. It can effectively and quickly repair small, round puncture holes.

When Should You Plug in a Puncture?

Plugging a tire is appropriate when the puncture is round and less than half an inch in diameter. Otherwise, it won’t work and may put you in greater danger. So, when should you not plug in a tire?

Do not plug in a tire under the following conditions:

  • Never plug your tire for an irregularly-shaped puncture
  • Never plug your tire if the puncture hole is on or near the sidewall
  • Never plug your tire if the puncture hole is more than half an inch in diameter
  • Never plug your tires if you have run them flat for more than a mile
  • Never plug a tire if it bulges or has bulbs formed on the sidewall
  • Never plug a tire if the puncture to be repaired is close to another repair

So, when should you plug a tire, and how long does it last?

Plugging a tire is most appropriate when the puncture is caused by a blunt object and is also located away from the sidewall. The puncture hole should also be less than half of an inch.

It is also safe to plug a tire if the puncture is away from another already repaired. The rubber becomes weak when tire punctures are located side by side. In that case, plugging the tire is unsafe.

How To Plug a Tire: Step-by-Step

You can plug your tire if you have the kit needed. This kit often consists of simple tools and plugs. It is a quick process that you can complete without even removing the wheel. So, how do you accomplish this task?

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Step 1: Locate the Puncture

The first step is to find the location of the puncture on the tire. You can do this without removing the wheel assembly from the car, but it is best to unbolt it from the vehicle. Soapy water is often sprayed on the pressurized wheel to help identify the puncture location. Bubbles often form on it.

Step 2: Remove Objects on the Tire

Objects such as nails often remain in the tire. Remove it to expose the puncture hole, which you should examine to determine the possibility of plugging the tire. Resort to this method if the puncture hole is less than half an inch in diameter and is round.

Step 3: Clean the Hole

Use a reaming tool to clean the hole. This involves working it in and out of the puncture hole several times to make the hole rounder and uniform. You may need a drill and drill bit to enlarge small punctures before using the reamer to roughen the sides.

Step 4: Coat the Plug

You need tire-sealing cement to coat the plug. But before that, place it through the eye of the insertion tool. When done, apply the cement to hold the plug in place and form a bond with the tire’s material.

Step 5: Insert the Plug

Use the insertion tool to insert the plug into the puncture hole. Be firm and direct when applying the pressure to successfully plug the tire. Also, ensure the plug sticks out about an inch from the tire treads.

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Quickly pull out the insertion tool, leaving behind the plug in the hole.

Step 6: Fill the Tire and trim the Plug

Fill the tire to the recommended pressure. This should be done gradually and avoid inflating. Once done, use the soapy water you previously used to check for leaks around the plugged area.

If the tire holds up the air, trim the excess plug material down to the tread level and safely keep the plugging tools for future use.

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How long can you drive with a plugged tire?

A plugged tire can last 50-7 years when done perfectly. However, the distance you can cover depends on many factors. The location of the puncture and how it was done are the primary determinants, but weather can also be in the mix. The best approach is to call a professional to inspect the tire before your next trip.

Can a tire plug cause a blowout?

No. A well-done tire plug does not cause a blowout. You can only experience this problem if the puncture hole is too large or on the sidewall. Tire blowout often occurs when the tire reaches its service life.

Is a tire plug a permanent solution?

No. Plugging a tire is considered a temporary solution, despite being able to last for the tire’s lifespan if done perfectly. You may need tire replacement and a proper repair before your next trip.

What is better, patching or plugging a tire?

Patching a tire is considered by many as the most effective tire repair method. It is also more secure than plugging. However, a tire repair specialist can use a combination of the two for an even better solution.

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Final Words

As the name implies, plugging a tire involves using a plug to seal a puncture hole in a car tire. It forms a strong bond with the tire’s rubber, which blocks air from escaping. It is a quick fix and very helpful for small round puncture holes on the tire treads. On the positive side, a tire plug can last 5-7 years if done perfectly.

However, plugging a tire is ineffective when the puncture hole is irregular, more than half an inch, or on the sidewall. You may need to replace the tire or use alternative repair methods.