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How Long Does a Tire Plug Last: A Comprehensive Guide

How Long Do Tire Plugs Last

How long does a tire plug last? You will want the answer to this question if instead of going with a medium-quality tire for a couple of hundred dollars, you decide to reuse a good quality tire by plugging the tire. It is a budget-friendly solution that may only cost you $20 to $40. After all, who wants a small nail puncture to get a totally good tire go to waste? You may be pleasantly surprised with the answer because according to tire specialists, a competent tire plug and patch job may actually last from seven to 10 years. If that seems too good to be true, we will talk about everything you need to know about tire plugging in this article.

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How Long Does a Tire Plug Last: How Tire Plugs Work


A plug works by forming an airtight seal in the inner liner of the tire. The plug plugs the hole left by the item while also forming a mushroom-shaped seal within the tire to keep the plug from being pushed out.


The plug attaches to the interior of the tire, stopping air from escaping, while the plug seals the puncture hole, preventing air and moisture from infiltrating the tire. The rubber stem of the tire plug is cut so that it is level with the surrounding tread. 


Plugs are most effective after running over a nail or other blunt item that punctures the tire and causes it to leak air. After removing the nail or sharp item, the plug is placed into the hole to stop the leak. While plugs used to be troublesome and more of a band-aid sort of fix, many plugs available now actually vulcanize to the tire to give better performance.


3 Types of Tire Repair


A tire plug is just one of the 3 common types of tire repair, and it is the quickest and easiest to do. The other 2 are patching and plug/patch combinations. 


A tire patch is a square of rubber with an adhesive backing that is bonded to the interior of the tire. As with plugs, the glue vulcanizes under driving heat, hardening the seal. Patching a tire entails removing the tire from the rim and then using a die grinder to clear out a 2-inch circumference around the puncture to provide enough area for the patch to bind with. The patch is then moved from within the tire to the outside, sealed, and allowed to dry.


So tire patching obviously takes longer and costs more than plugging. Also take note that although tire patches can last a long time, a tire should never be patched more than once.


A plug/patch combo, on the other hand, is a more extensive form of repair that combines both plugging and patching. A tire plug is an incomplete repair since it just attempts to cover the hole in the tire rather than entirely seal it. To efficiently repair a puncture in a tire, both a rubber plug and an interior patch are required. To close the gap, a rubber patch with a dangling tail is inserted inside the tire and threaded through the hole. This is the most successful way of tire repair, but it is also the most time-consuming and cannot be accomplished without removing the tire.


How Long Does a Tire Plug Last: Tire Plugging Precautions


While it is true that tire plugging is a budget-friendly and quick fix for a flat tire there are still some things you need to know about safety on plugged tires. Installing a plug, it turns out, can have a significant influence on the integrity and longevity of your tire. That is, assuming it is even safe to plug your tire. Here's all you need to know about the safety of plugged tires:


Plugging Tires Is Not Suitable For All Circumstances


Only in certain circumstances is it safe to utilize a plug. Driving on a clogged tire might be risky to you and other vehicles if you are not in one of these situations. You may not be able to patch the tire with a plug depending on the size of the puncture, the amount of the damage, and the tread of your tire. 


  • The hole must be no bigger than 0.25 inches in diameter and must be positioned on the tread of your tire. The tire must be replaced if the puncture is on the shoulder or sidewall.


(True tire repairs are confined to the tire's center, or “crown.” The crown is the middle of the tread, around 1 to 1.5 inches in from each shoulder. The first major groove on both shoulders may also be used to designate the puncture repair region on most tires. Puncture repairs are restricted to the tread area's center. It is not possible to repair a tire with punctures or damage to the shoulder or sidewall.)


  • The puncture’s angle makes a big difference if the plug can be effective or not.


(If the nail or anything that punctured your tire went right in then this would make a repair quite simple.  But if the tire was punctured at an angle, the plug may have difficulty entirely sealing the perforated region.  So consider the appearance of the nail or screw as well as the angle at which it pierced the tire.)


  • The age and the quality of your tire also have a role in whether it can be fixed by getting plugged.


(If the tread on your tire has worn down to 2/32 of an inch, it is too worn to be filled. If you're wondering how to measure this, the famous penny test measures 2/32 of an inch.) 


Before you even consider plugging your tire, be sure it passes the penny test. Insert your penny, upside down, into a tread groove. In other words, your penny should be inserted headfirst into the tire tread. Examine the exposed section of the penny. Your tread is shallow if you can see the top of Abe's head. Repeat the penny test in various tire grooves. If you can constantly see the top of his head, your tire is worn out and has to be replaced.


A Tire Plug Might Cause More Harm than Good


The most serious issue with driving on a plugged tire is that there is still a hole in your tire! While this may be a temporary solution, it is critical to note that there is still a structural issue in your tire that must be repaired. It’s only logical that a plugged tire cannot withstand the same amount of stress and strain as a tire in good condition. 


This is especially true while driving at greater speeds on the highway. Once a tire has been fixed, the manufacturer will also no longer maintain its speed rating. So, whether you intend to race, drive off-road, or just go quickly, a plugged tire will not suffice.


It is possible for that little puncture to get bigger over time. As a result, you lose more air and are more likely to have a blowout on the road. Furthermore, the plug itself may fail while you are traveling, returning you to your initial state.


Plugging Tires Should Be Left to the Experts


The first concern with tire plugging is that the safety and efficiency of the plug is nearly completely dependent on the mechanic's ability. Plugs must be fitted from the inside out, and inexperienced tire installers will do it from the outside, which is dangerous.


Plugged Tires Can Not Perform As Well


Even with a trained repair, the plug indicates a structural weakness in the tire, limiting its ability to withstand the same load as an unplugged tire. So, even if you do it correctly, you can't expect the tire to function at the same speeds, handle as well, or carry as much weight.


If you're hauling a lot of weight or driving a sporty little number, a plug means all bets are off. Another difficulty is that where the tires are plugged, they might begin to split. Essentially, the hole with the plug will gradually rip apart, causing you to lose more air and making the tire hazardous to drive with. Depending on how effectively it was fitted, a plug can potentially dry up and shrink, causing it to leak more or even fall out.


An Improper Repair May Void Your Tire Warranty


Another consideration before driving on a plugged tire is how your repair may affect the manufacturer's warranty on your tire. Improper repair and maintenance will automatically void your warranty. Think carefully the next time you consider tackling a tire repair on your own.


When it comes to your vehicle's safety, it's always better to leave it to the professionals. To be able to do the repair properly, the tire must be completely removed from the rim. You have no way of knowing what the interior of the tire looks like, which is why it must be inspected by a professional.When you get your tire fixed by a licensed technician, you may be assured that the repair was done correctly and that your manufacturer's guarantee is still “valid.”

How Long Does a Tire Plug Last? Tire Plug is a Temporary Fix


A tire is constantly at risk of being punctured by a foreign item, and because the average tire will endure millions of revolutions during its lifetime, it is typically a matter of when, not if, you get a flat. Knowing the difference between a professional tire repair and an incorrect tire repair might be the difference between life and death.


The loss of inflated pressure is the most immediate issue when an object, such as a nail, bursts through the innerliner of a tire. The long-term concern, however, is that the instability around the penetrating item will cause a tread separation.


The best course of action in the event of a flat tire caused by a nail or screw is to replace the tire. A tire plug or patch may help you get by until your tire can be changed, but if you want to be on the safe side then you must keep in mind that a plug could only be a temporary remedy.


A plug or a patch by themselves are not acceptable repairs since the plug does not permanently seal the innerliner and the patch does not cover the vacuum caused by the penetrating item, allowing water to enter the tire body and begin corroding the steel belts. For the same reasons, the use of sealants or emergency inflators containing a sealant is not suggested as long-term remedies to a flat tire.

How Long Does a Tire Plug Last: Other Related Questions


Do you need rubber cement when plugging a tire?


Some individuals prefer to apply a little additional rubber cement to the plug after it has been installed, although this is not required. In truth, you can fill a tire without using rubber cement as it merely makes the binding stronger. While a plug can be inserted into the side wall, it will usually not hold.


Can you plug a tire without removing it?


Without removing the tire from the rim, it is difficult to check the cavity of the tire for puncture damage. This is only one of the many reasons why a plug-only repair is dangerous. A plug-only repair is performed by inserting the plug using an insertion tool through the exterior of the tire.


Can tire plugs fall out?


They should not pull out if the end of the plug flush is cut off with the tread. But if the remaining portion is long enough to get between the tread and the ground, it can be dragged out if the fit was loose. To establish a good seal in cuts or bigger holes, you may need to use two plugs.


While it may be tempting to try how far you can travel with a 20-dollar patch, the implications of a plugged tire failing are significantly harsher than if the tire had been changed in the first place. It might be a difficult experience if you have just acquired a tire or have acquired a pair of pricey tires. If this is the case, and you wish to keep the tire, then it may be worthwhile to get it examined by a specialist so they can advise you on the best method as to how to save your tires.


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