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How Long Does A Tire Plug Last? Is Plugging A Tire Safe? 

Tire Chain Maintenance

There are times in which we need an immediate fix for a tire. Plugging may be the only choice- but is it safe? How long does a tire plug last? How does a tire plug stack up against a tire patch? We have the information you need now! 

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How Long Does a Tire Plug Last? 

Generally, tire experts state that a proper tire plug and patch job can last from seven to ten years. 

Even though tire patch and plug jobs can last a long time- in theory a tire should never be plugged more than once. The plug and the patch can have negative effects on your tire- with the potential for blowouts to happen. Once your tire becomes punctured from an object on the road, it’s time to call your road service center or a tire center to get the assistance you need.  Of course, a tire puncture never happens at a “convenient time”, so in this day and age, it may help to have some sort of road assistance- that specializes in immediate tire plug, patching and repair. 

What Exactly is a Tire Plug? 

A tire plug is a an expandable as well a tacky substance that gets stuffed or placed in a hole that is in the tire, from the outer area. That plug is wedged in till the air in the tire stops. The plug should be sturdy as well as easily able to stay intact- so that the tire can be re-inflated with air at a local repair shop or with portable air.  Thankfully a tire plug can remain in a tire- while a new tire is purchased, or a more suitable patch is able to be placed in the tire. The ideal situation is to buy a new or a used tire, that has lots of tread on it. As we mentioned before, that a plug can last for years- but it’s better to purchase a new or great used tire, to avoid a blowout. 

Is Plugging A Tire Safe? 

Lots of tire experts agree that there is a better option than plugging a tire- it’s called the radial patch. These kinds of tire repair solutions are specially designed patches that successfully repair radial tires – the kind of tire that is found on many vehicles on our highways and byways.  When a tire is patched with a radial patch, the process takes about 30 minutes. Plugging a tire takes but a few moments. One advantage to plugging a tire, is that the plug can be done while the tire is still on the vehicle.  Generally, a tire professional has to vulcanize the tire patch- a process that involves using curing agents as well as heat to strengthen the rubber of your tire.

Is It Better To Plug A Tire Or Patch It?

Tire plugs work best after the driver has run over a blunt object or a nail that punctures or pokes the tire while causing it to leak air. After the blunt object or the nail or the blunt object is removed, the tire professional will take the plug and insert it into the hole to fix the leak and block the passage of air out of the tire. Back in the day, plugs were a bit difficult to do- and they were the “band-aid” answer to fixing a tire. Today, there have been some “advancements” in tire plugging that last a bit longer. 


A tire patch, is considered to be a better choice for repairing tire. While the patch is generally of better quality- it does require a bit more labor and work than just plugging a tire. Therefore, you can expect to pay a bit more. When a tire is patched, the tire is removed from the rim and the tire professional uses a die grinder to clean a two-inch diameter area around the puncture. This gives the patch enough of a bond.  The tire repair person then takes the patch and pushes it from inside the tire, and through outside of the tire. The patch is sealed and then given time to dry.  

What’s the Best Modern Tire Fix? 

The best modernized tire fix is a patch/plug combination method. In fact, you can even get this in one product. This piece is combining the best assets of both a patch as well as a plug.  Most tire repair shops offer a component of a patch/plug combination. 


When Should You Not Plug A Tire?

Sometimes, not all tires can be plugged or patched. So, when can you or when can you NOT plug a tire? 

  1. If you have a tire that has been punctured by a blunt object such as glass, sharp metal or a nail- then the tire can be repaired- as long as the puncture is located in the tread of the tire and not on the wall of the tire. The puncture should not measure more than 1/4 of an inch in diameter. 
  2. As we stated above, you cannot plug (or even patch a tire) if that hole is in the wall or the sides of the tire. If this is the case, then you have to buy a whole new tire.  (We know the grief of reading this!) You want to think “safety first”! 
  3. Do you have more than one hole or puncture in the tire? Depending on the space between the holes, you can get the tire plugged or repaired. But if those holes are less than 16 inches apart, then it’s time to buy a new tire. If the tire has succumbed to some serious damage and there is some huge tread separation or large cuts in the tire, then you need to throw that tire out and buy another tire. We know that there is never a convenient time to buy a tire after a puncture, but you never want to put your safety in jeopardy, just to save a few dollars. 

“I Can Always Get A Can Of Tire Sealant Or Inflator!” 

You sure can. In fact, they sell these “cans of tire fix” at stores nationwide. But these fixes should never be seen as a solution that can last you days- even weeks. You need to take your car for a plug and if need be a new tire. Again… your safety comes first. A can of “tire fix” may help you for a few minutes, but you want to make sure that you take that tire to a professional. You may insert a can of “tire fix” into your car in the evening, and see that the tire is flat in the morning! We have nothing against “tire fixes in a can”, but don’t look at them as long-term solutions. 

Tire Patch and Repair FAQs

Are There Limitations With Plugging A Tire? 

Plugs will generally not work, if the puncture is located near the tire’s sidewall, Tire plugs are also ineffective if the puncture is located at an angle. A patch is generally a better and more recommended option to a plug. And there are some limitations to a plug job. For example, with plugging a tire, if the puncture is greater than a quarter of an inch, then the plug or the patch will not work. 


How Long Can I Drive My Car With A Plug In My Tire? 

Lots of tire experts agree that you can drive with a plug for about seven to ten years. But you should not aim for this, just to avoid buying a new tire. Since the tire has already been punctured, the tire is at a higher risk of another yet another puncture- causing a blowout. Yes, that plug may last you a few months. You may even “get away with” that plug for a year. But eventually, you will have to buy a new tire.  

What’s Better – Patching A Tire Or Plugging It?

When a tire plug is correctly installed and inserted- and you have the right driving conditions, then that plug could last up to 25,000 additional miles. But even though plugs are highly effective, patches are seen as a better choice- as they are far more secure than plugs. Many tire repair shops offer a plug/patch combination method and item that is very reasonable in price and highly reliable. It is a great solution, as you save money for the purchase of a new tire. 

Aren’t Tire Plugs Just a “Band-Aid” Solution? 

Nothing beats a brand-new tire, free of any puncture. But once a plug is installed correctly and by a professional, that plug can last a good amount of time for you. Thanks to a few advancements in technology, a plug and patch job is not what it used to be. Modern tire repairs can last awhile for drivers- but we do reiterate… you will eventually need a new/another tire. 

Tire Care and Maintenance 

Despite our best efforts, we are bound to encounter a nail or a sharp piece of metal on our roads. For many of us, construction on our streets is never-ending! But it’s important to care for your tires, like you care for your car. So:

  1. Get your tires rotated on a regular basis. 
  2. Check the pressure regularly.
  3. Get those wheels aligned so that the tread is evenly distributed.
  4. Look at your tire’s tread from time to time. 
  5. Look into purchasing a road assistance plan- so that you can get the assistance you need, should you have a blowout. 
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