Repairing Your Tire: Should You Plug or Replace Your Damaged Tire?
Solid, well-balanced tires are crucial to getting your car to perform the way it’s supposed to. However, while most tires are built to withstand most forms of pressure and stress, they can still get punctured, causing them to deflate.
A flat tire is a huge inconvenience and takes up a lot of time to fix. You will then have to tow your vehicle to the nearest tire repair shop to have your deflated tire assessed and patched up. The process that your damaged tire will undergo depends on a variety of factors, mainly determining where the tire was punctured, how damaged the tire is, and if any other parts of the tire need fixing.
Most of the time, a less damaged tire will only need you to plug the tire, while heavier damage entails you replacing the tire entirely.
Your chosen mechanic would be able to determine the type of repair needed for your tire, but it’s good to be aware of both repair options and what they can do for you.
When can tire plugging be sufficient for your tire’s repair?
Tire plugging is done by inserting a piece of malleable rubber into your tire’s punctured area. When the rubber is inserted into the hole, it expands to prevent any air from getting out. While it’s an effective solution to keep your tire inflated, it’s not a permanent solution and should not be done in place of a proper repair. A plug is only meant to help your tire function until you get to the nearest repair station.
It should be noted that tire plugging is also only meant for tires that experienced minimal damage. Tire plugs can only fill up small holes, particularly those less than ¼ of an inch in diameter. You can still drive your car safely for a short while, but your tire will eventually need professional fixing to be regularly used again. Additionally, these small pieces of rubber can only be used on your tire’s treads, not its sidewalls.
Plugging and patching
When an auto-mechanic fixes your tire with a plug, the cost may be anywhere between $15 to $20. They will also be doing a patch job, which uses a repair patch with a rubber plug to fix the damaged tire. To plug a tire, your mechanic locates the hole in the tire, thoroughly cleans it out and reams it to accommodate the plug. The patch is then applied using vulcanizing cement. This process fills up the hole completely and seals the area to prevent further damage.
When should you have your tire replaced?
Replacing a tire is often a last resort, especially if the tire still looks and feels usable. However, your safety should be your top priority, and this may mean replacing your tire is the best option for you. Knowing how to assess the damage to your tires will help you determine whether a tire can stay or needs to go.
These are the scenarios that will always require a tire replacement:
● A puncture that’s larger than ¼ of an inch in diameter
● Damage to the tire’s sidewall or shoulder
● Visible severe damage, like large lacerations on the tire
● Damage on a part of the tire that has already been repaired before
What are the industry standards for repairing tires?
Two main organizations dictate the safety standards for tires: The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA), and the Tire Industry Association (TIA).
The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association
● There must be no overlapping repairs. A one-piece combination unit with both a stem and a patch will be the best fix.
● Tires with existing repairs must not be re-repaired. In situations like these, you must replace a tire.
● A plug alone or a patch alone is insufficient for repairing a damaged tire.
● An outside-in tire repair and on-the-wheel repair are not acceptable.
The Tire Industry Association
● Tire repairs require demounting the tire rim to allow it to be inspected from the inside.
● Demounting must be done to fill up the puncture with rubber, seal the inner liner, and take out all damaged material.
● A plug and a patch must be used together for a proper repair because both are insufficient on their own.
● Sealants and emergency inflators are not suitable as long-term solutions.
● Puncture repairs must only be done on the center of the tire’s tread area.
● Multiple points of damage require tire repair.
● Tires with holes larger than ¼ inch in diameter require replacement.