How to Repair a Flat Tire with a Plug

February 10th, 2015 by

Getting a flat tire is never a welcomed surprise and is made even more stressful if you are in a time crunch to get somewhere. You may have the option to repair a flat tire with a plug if you do not have a spare tire. The location of the puncture and size play a part in whether or not you can repair a flat tire with a plug. The Rubber Manufacturers Association advises a plug and patch approach to fixing a punctured tire, but others believe a plug is enough.

Repair a Flat Tire with a Plug

This is how to insert the plug into the tire.

Repair a Flat Tire with a Plug

To repair a flat tire with a plug you will need to make sure the puncture is not outside of the tire’s tread area, according to the RMA. The puncture should also not be more than 1/4 inch in diameter. Repairs should also not overlap and the tire should be removed from the wheel to inspect for other damage.
Matthew Wright of uses the plug approach. Here are his steps on how to repair a flat tire with a plug:

  1. Find the Leak Finding the leak is sometimes easier said than done. A large nail may be the culprit, but other times the holes are smaller. Using a cleaner that bubbles will help you pinpoint the hole. According to, just pour the liquid down the tire’s tread and watch for a cluster of bubbles to appear. The puncture is where the liquid will bubble. If you find a nail or some other object in your tire, do not pull it out immediately.
  2. Mark the Location of the Hole suggests marking the location of the hole with a piece of tape and then drawing an arrow to the hole’s exact location. Once the object is out of the tire it might be hard to spot the hole. Of course, if you forget to mark the spot you can try to pinpoint the hole with a cleaner that bubbles.
  3. Remove the Object If a screw is jammed in the tread just unscrew it. Other objects can be removed with pliers.
  4. Use a Reamer Next, use a reamer to clean out the hole. The reamer works like a file to “clean out and rough up the hole in your tire prior to plugging,” according to
  5. Ready the Plug Using a tool that looks like a large needle with a handle, thread the plug through until it is centered.
  6. Plug the Hole Feed the plug through the hole until there is a 1/2 inch left sticking out.

Be sure a plug is not used to seal a puncture to a tire’s side wall. The side wall “is under different strains and pressures than the part that makes contact with the road,” according to
Call Fisher Auto in Boulder, Colo., at 303-245-6414 with your questions and to get a punctured tire repaired.