Nail in Tire? How to Remove and Repair a Puncture

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There are a handful of things in the automotive world that cannot be predicted or avoided. One of them is a nail in your car tire. No matter how careful you are, and how good of a driver you are, chances are you’ll get a nail or a screw in your tire at some point.
Noticing a nail in your tire isn’t always easy. Nails don’t always make your tire leak initially, so you may only notice it visually, or you may not notice it at all. Sometimes nails cause a slow leak, which you may not notice for a while. Of course, sometimes a nail in the tire will produce a flat almost immediately.
Whatever the symptoms, you may want to remove the nail if it’s in your tire. Part 1 explains how to remove the nail and Part 2 helps you decide if you should replace the tire.

Part 1 of 2: How to take a nail out of a tire

Getting a nail out of a tire is actually quite easy. However, if you’re going to take a nail out of your tire, you need to make sure that you have a plug and patch kit (which you can find at any auto parts store). A plug and patch kit will allow you to fill the void left when you remove the nail.
To actually remove the nail, simply use a pair of pliers to pull it straight out of the tire. If the nail is deep into the tire and isn’t coming out easily, you can use the pliers, or a screwdriver, or any other sharp, pointy tool, to dig out the tire around the top of the nail, until you can pull the entire nail out.
Once the nail is out, follow the instructions on the plug and patch kit that you purchased, and fill the hole in the tire. Always inflate your tires to a safe pressure before driving your vehicle again.

Part 2 of 2: Should I take the nail out, or get the tires replaced?

Knowing how to take a nail out and patch your tire is a great skill to have, and it can really help you out in a pinch. However, just as with a spare tire, a self-patched tire should only be considered a temporary solution.
Even if your patch is holding air just fine, your tire is much more likely to blow, so you should get it replaced or professionally repaired sooner rather than later.
If your tire is still in good shape (other than the nail hole), an auto shop can patch the tire from the inside, by removing it from the wheel. This will fully fix any issue caused by the nail, while usually costing less than purchasing a new tire.
However, there are times where you shouldn’t remove a nail and patch the hole. If the nail is in the shoulder or sidewall of the tire, then a patch simply won’t hold. Furthermore, if the nail leaves a hole that is larger than a quarter inch, you cannot safely repair it yourself.
If the nail in your tire fits any of these descriptions, you need to have your tire replaced, or professionally repaired. If not, you can remove the nail yourself, patch it up, and safely drive your car until you can get the tire fixed.
Removing a nail is a surprisingly easy process, but it’s important to know when you can do the repair yourself, and when you need to take your vehicle directly to a tire shop.