Everything You Need to Know About Repairing a Punctured Tire

You can repair some tire punctures with basic tools and a patch kit, saving yourself the expense of buying a brand new tire.
Written by Jacqulyn Graber
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
There’s nothing worse than noticing that your tire is losing pressure and discovering the culprit is a deeply dug-in nail. You can repair some tire punctures with basic tools and a patch kit, saving yourself the hassle (and expense!) of buying a brand new tire.
Not all tire punctures are created equal. While some will mean your vehicle is entirely out of commission, requiring you to purchase a new tire ASAP, some punctured tires can be repaired. 
Here to walk you through everything you need to know about tire puncture repair is
, the
car insurance
broker and
super app
. We’ll teach you the types of punctures able to be repaired, discuss options for fixing them, and provide step-by-step directions for completing the job yourself.

Can you repair a punctured tire?

Sometimes! Some punctured tires can be repaired. It depends on three major factors: the size of the puncture, the location of the puncture, and the overall health of your tire.
We’ve all been there. You’re cruising down the highway when suddenly your tire pressure light comes on. You pull over to discover a flat. The culprit? A sharp nail shoved deep in your precious rubber treads.
Fortunately, there’s a good chance that a puncture won’t require you to buy a brand new tire. In fact, if your tire is repairable, a plug and a patch will fix the issue, and you can drive thousands of miles more on the once-damaged tire.

What kinds of tire punctures can be repaired?

Three major factors determine whether your tire’s puncture can be repaired:
  • The location of the puncture. Only repair punctures that are located in your tire’s treads. If the puncture or damage is in your tire’s sidewall or shoulder, unfortunately, the tire is not repairable. 
  • The size of the puncture. When it comes to puncture repairs, size matters! Do not try to repair a puncture that is greater than a 1/4-inch in diameter.
  • The overall health of your tire. Don’t bother trying to repair your tire if the treads are less than 1/16 inch or it's otherwise badly damaged. If there are signs of dry rot or if chunks of the tread are missing, for example, the tire is not safe to be on the road. 

Cost of repairing a punctured tire

Fortunately, having a punctured tire repaired by a professional is much more affordable than purchasing a brand new tire. Having your tire professionally plugged and patched will cost you around $10 to $20. 
Some tire dealers will repair a punctured tire for free if you purchased your tire from them. Or, if you have an AAA membership, you may qualify for free repairs, as well! 
If you have the right tools and know-how, however, you can save yourself a few bucks—and the hassle of taking your car to the mechanic—by completing the job at home.
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Steps for repairing a punctured tire

Repairing a punctured tire yourself isn’t too difficult a job, as long as you have the right knowledge and tools. If you’d like to save a few bucks—and avoid the trip to the tire shop—follow these simple steps:

1. Locate the puncture 

When your car’s tire pressure light comes on, it’s important to
check all four of your tires
right away. Your tire(s) could be low on pressure for a variety of reasons, such as
cold weather
. However, if the tire is completely flat, or if it is consistently losing air, the culprit is most likely some sort of puncture.
To locate the puncture, remove the wheel in question from the vehicle, and then remove the valve caps. Inspect the tire carefully, looking for any nails or other sharp objects. If there’s no obvious culprit, try spraying your entire tire down with Windex or soapy water, then keep an eye out for bubbles—a clear sign of air leaking out from a hole. 

2. Take the tire off the rim

Once you identify where the puncture is—and determine that it’s repairable—you’ll need to remove the tire from the rim so that you can fully access the punctured area. 

3. Remove any sharp objects

If there is a nail or other sharp object lodged into your tire, carefully remove it using a pair of pliers. You can use tire chalk to mark the hole so that you don’t lose track of it. 

4. Clean the hole

Clean out the hole using a rasp tool, which will also roughen up the tire’s material so that the plug sticks better. 
Rasp tools should be included in standard
tire plug kits
, or you can buy one by itself. 

5. Apply adhesive

Your tire plug kit will also include an adhesive—such as rubber cement or a similar type of glue. This will help lubricate the hole—so that the plug can easily be pulled through—and then will help the plug stick once dried. 

6. Insert the plug

Using the provided insertion tool, insert the plug into your tire. You may need to squeeze the end of the plug material to help guide it into the hole—it will be a tight fit!

7. Trim the excess plug

Once the adhesive is completely dry, trim the excess plug that’s sticking out of the tire using a razor or knife.

8. Fill the tire and test the seal

Refill your tire to the recommended pressure, which you can find on the wall of the tire, in your owner’s manual, or—sometimes—inside your gas tank’s door cover.
Once it's filled, you can test the seal of the plug by—once again—spraying Windex or soapy water where the puncture was. If the puncture is still bubbling, you’ll need to apply more adhesive or try another plug.

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A flat tire isn’t the only unexpected car issue that could leave you stranded on the side of the road. From accidents to weather-related damage to a host of malfunctions, there’s no shortage of things that can go wrong.
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You can repair a tire puncture—as long as the puncture is located in the tread of your tire (not the shoulder or the sidewall), 1/4-inch in diameter or less, and otherwise in good condition.
You can repair your tire at home using a plug kit or have it patched by a professional for a relatively low fee.
It is incredibly unsafe to drive on a punctured or flat tire as it could cause a blowout and subsequent car accident.
If you have a flat tire, pull over to a safe location immediately. Replace the affected tire with your vehicle’s spare—if you have one—or consider
using Fix-a-Flat
to temporarily repair your tire until it can be permanently plugged, patched, or replaced.
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