Have you ever experienced the frustration of a punctured tire while driving? It’s a situation that no driver wants to be in, but thankfully, repair options are available. Tire Plugs are one of the popular choices for repairing a punctured tire; after all, no one wants to throw a good tire out. But how do you know a tire plug is reliable?
While punctures can easily be repaired with tire plugs, some drivers(you may be one of them) are concerned about whether a tire plug can fall out. In this article, we’ll dive into the benefits and limitations of a tire plug.
What is a tire plug?
There are two parts to a tire plug; the plug or stem is 6mm in diameter which seals the hole and pokes through the tread. The other part is the patch, which does the sealing of the repair.
Tire plugs are a permanent tire repair and should not be confused with roadside temporary puncture repair plugs, which can be inserted without taking the tire off the rim. A proper tire plug needs to be carried out by a properly trained technician with the tire removed from the wheel and applied from the inside.
How is a tire plug applied?
Without going into detail, the tire must be removed from the rim. The punctured hole is reamed out to 6mm (the size of the plug), the tire’s inner carcass is then buffed around the damage with a dremmel and buffing wheel to make a smooth surface for the patch. A solvent is applied, allowed to dry, and the plug is pulled through the hole until the patch sticks onto the tire. The patch part of the plug is then rolled over with a unique tool to create an airtight seal on the tire’s inner carcass.
A properly placed tire plug will last the life of the tire. However, some problems can occur when repairing a tire incorrectly or a tire that shouldn’t have been fixed.
Can a tire plug fall out?
The effectiveness of tire plugs in repairing punctures has been a topic of debate; some drivers will not allow a proper repair to be carried out and will replace the tire instead. One of the main areas of concern is if a tire plug can fall out. The short answer is yes. However, it’s not a common occurrence.
There are a few instances when a tire plug can fall out.
- Improper installation: One of the main issues with a tire plug is a faulty installation. This can either be a repair job poorly done or, in most cases, repairing a tire that shouldn’t have been. The puncture (hole) should be on the central of three quarters of the tire’s tread and not be more than 6mm in size.
- Damaged tire: A tire that is damaged from either being run-flat (not to be confused with a run-flat tire), which happens when driving a tire underinflated or punctured; the inner casing starts to shred. Or a tire in which the puncture has damaged the tire belt running through the tire. Trying to seal a plug to a damaged tire is never a good idea.
- Excessive flexing: If the puncture is located in areas of the tire, like the sidewall or outer edge of the tire tread, that frequently experience flexing. When turning, the constant movement of the tire can cause the plug to fall out if it is repaired.
- Failed plug: This doesn’t happen often and is really an improper installation, but when the plug is pulled through the tire, the plug can be torn from the patch. The plugs job is to seal the inner part of the tire. If technician carries out the tire with he plug removed, water and dirt can get into the hole and cause the patch part of the plug to fail.
Potential risks of losing a tire plug
Losing a tire plug poses a considerable problem- from damaging the car to an accident. Here are some of the potential risks of losing a tire plug.
- Air leakage: The first impact of losing tire plugs is the air leakage which gradually leads to loss of tire pressure and even a completely flat tire.
- Reduced handling and stability: When you lose a tire plug, it starts losing air pressure and causes a flat. An underinflated or flat tire can affect the handling and stability of the car. Reduced strength can make it difficult to control the vehicle and increase the risk of accidents.
- Tire damage: Driving on a tire with a hole can be disastrous for you and your tires. These damages usually become unrepairable and require a replacement.
- Safety concerns: There is an increased risk of a blowout when driving with an air leakage which can cause you to lose control of the car and may lead to an accident.
Prevention of tire plug failure
The best prevention for a tire plug failure is proper installation and maintenance. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing a car plug to ensure that it is sealed and airtight. This is difficult for you as the driver because you have to trust the technician has carried out a suitable repair to a repairable tire. Also, in many cases, improper repairs to tires that shouldn’t have been repaired can void any tire warranty.
Even when you follow all the guidelines, improper use of a tire plug won’t be effective and will cause failure. You can use a plug on a tire to repair punctures only under the following conditions:
- If the damage is not near the sidewall. Central 3/4 of the tire tread only.
- If the tire hole is a small and circular shape. Irregular holes or tears can cause the plug to fall out more frequently than a circular or round-shaped hole.
- The hole size must not exceed the size of the tire plug stem, which is most commonly 6mm in diameter.
- The plug will not overlap another previously applied tire plug.
- The tire is still above the legal limit.
In conclusion, tire plugs can be an easy and convenient way to repair a punctured tire, but checking if the damage warrants its use is essential. While they can fix and make the car run as smoothly as a new tire, you should know a tire plug’s potential risks and limitations.
Although rare, a tire plug can fall out if a tire that shouldn’t have been repaired is plugged in or the repair is not carried out correctly. The mechanic carrying out the repair should properly asses the tire and damage, which will be reported back to you before installing the tire plug.