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Old 03-09-2021, 10:23 AM   #1
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Why I love tire plugs, Confessions of a tire dealer

Longer term members may have read many previous posts from me railing against using string type tire plugs that are inserted from the outside of the tire.

I have shown reasons why you always want to have a tire dismounted to check for damage as well as tire plugs can lead to belt separation as pictured below.

I know that there will be members posting that they have used tire plugs since the first pair of tires came off Noah's Ark with nary a problem.....but that doesn't make it a proper or even a safe way to repair tires.

But as the thread title goes, I love when people plug their tires. If/when it ruins the tire, or the tire blows out.... I get to make a sale, as I did on this one pictured. Cha-ching.Click image for larger version

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Old 03-09-2021, 11:11 AM   #2
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I was in the tire business during a previous life in the '80s, and your view is consistent with ours back then. Because of those views I've always been reluctant to even buy tire plugging kits, much less use them.

Glad I've got good spares for all my vehicles -- except the Gold Wing. At the risk of straying a bit from RV topics, what do you recommend for motorcycle tire punctures, at least to get the bike to the closest (which still could be a considerable distance) bike shop?

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I know that there will be members posting that they have used tire plugs since the first pair of tires came off Noah's Ark with nary a problem.....
As for the philosophy of "I've never had a problem doing [x]" when [x] runs counter to prevailing evidence, wisdom, recommendations, or plain common sense, my response is, "Anyone who's ever had a problem doing [x] at some point prior would have been able to say they've never had a problem."
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Old 03-09-2021, 11:19 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by wmtire View Post
Longer term members may have read many previous posts from me railing against using string type tire plugs that are inserted from the outside of the tire.

I have shown reasons why you always want to have a tire dismounted to check for damage as well as tire plugs can lead to belt separation as pictured below.

I know that there will be members posting that they have used tire plugs since the first pair of tires came off Noah's Ark with nary a problem.....but that doesn't make it a proper or even a safe way to repair tires.

But as the thread title goes, I love when people plug their tires. If/when it ruins the tire, or the tire blows out.... I get to make a sale, as I did on this one pictured. Cha-ching.Attachment 249234

What's even funnier is when you see where a plug has been installed on the outside, then dismount the tire, and see the hole made by the puncturing object a half inch or so off to one side of the plug. Installer only plugged the hole he made and forgot to "follow" the hole made by the object.


In the "Did your know" department, one of the largest customers of Northshore Labs, one of the largest manufacturers of tire plugs, is Discount Tire. Perhaps they figure they'll get the replacement tire business when the plugged tire fails.

Strange as all tire manufacturers DO NOT recommend plugging tires and state that if it is necessary it is only a temporary repair that needs to have a patch added on the inside ASAP.
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Old 03-09-2021, 11:20 AM   #4
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For an emergency roadside repair I see no issues with using plugs to get you somewhere for a proper repair or replacement. Using a spare is great, until a second tire has an issue.
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Old 03-09-2021, 11:27 AM   #5
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What's even funnier is when you see where a plug has been installed on the outside, then dismount the tire, and see the hole made by the puncturing object a half inch or so off to one side of the plug. Installer only plugged the hole he made and forgot to "follow" the hole made by the object.


In the "Did your know" department, one of the largest customers of Northshore Labs, one of the largest manufacturers of tire plugs, is Discount Tire. Perhaps they figure they'll get the replacement tire business when the plugged tire fails.

Strange as all tire manufacturers DO NOT recommend plugging tires and state that if it is necessary it is only a temporary repair that needs to have a patch added on the inside ASAP.
I don't advocate tire plugs either... but... they do have a place.

I've been back in the woods cutting lumber and poked a white thorn or two into a tire and a rope plug and an air tank has kept me from walking a mile or so through the brush.

I ALWAYS replace the tire if I made a temporary plug if it is an on-road tire. I simply won't take the chance that I may have damaged some steel cords by doing so even under temporary/emergency conditions. A patch inside won't repair broken cords.
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Old 03-09-2021, 01:24 PM   #6
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This right here. ^^^
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Old 03-09-2021, 02:00 PM   #7
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Tire Plugs

I've always been a cold patch man. That is if the puncture is were it can be used safely. Never had an issue with a patch.
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Old 03-09-2021, 02:10 PM   #8
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I couldn't understand why my new Tesla doesn't even have a spare tire, but then I thought back to the last flat tire I had and it was in my wife's Dad's 58 Chevy station wagon in 1964. He had no problem running on bad tires, but I never run on bad tires. I removed the spare from my 2018 F-150 TV too, but I carry tire repair plugs and a compressor for emergencies until the tire can be repaired properly.
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Old 03-09-2021, 02:18 PM   #9
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I have to agree with TitanMike. Not thru my own experience but my son is a tech that won’t plug tires. If there would be a patch to do , it’s from the inside of the tire. Upon inspection of course for qualifying that type of repair. They won’t even plug or patch a tire into the first ground contact surface to the road. They consider that sidewall damage at that point. Always a liability issue. My thought now would be plug it if you must to continue on a journey but then get to a tire store ASAP .
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Old 03-09-2021, 04:14 PM   #10
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I ALWAYS replace the tire if I made a temporary plug if it is an on-road tire. I simply won't take the chance that I may have damaged some steel cords by doing so even under temporary/emergency conditions. A patch inside won't repair broken cords.
USUALLY---

A puncturing object within the industry limit of 1/4" won't break steel belts or cords. It passes between the "cords" of the body and belt.

As for inside patches, todays patches have reinforcement built in. If the injury is less than 1/4 inch it can be safely patched from the inside. Big issue is air migration from inside into tire body that causes separations.

I have had a couple tires over the years that have had punctures and I insist they be repaired with a repair "unit" that looks like this:



This was the standard for tire repair in all our stores. They seal the puncture path through the belt package and seal the inner liner.

Dealers reported no failed repairs in the 17 years I was with the company.

I do agree that a plug is a good "tool' to get one out of the woods and to to their tire shop for a proper repair. Tech, a huge manufacturer of tire repair materials, teaches their students to dismount the tire, cut the plug flush with the inner liner, and then apply a patch for a proper "air seal".

A properly repaired tire, that doesn't have too large a puncture, can safely be driven until the tread is worn to minimum depth.
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Old 03-09-2021, 04:42 PM   #11
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I’m confused again!
For the past 36 years of driving 40k + miles every year. Every tire shop plugged my tires from the outside, never suggesting removing the tire from the rim to repair the tire.
I guess these new inside plugs are new .
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Old 03-09-2021, 04:51 PM   #12
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Tire plugs

Using a plug to get you out of the woods I’m good with. I mentioned earlier about my tech son and tire repair. Turns out now the dealership he works at has now reinforced a no plug no patch resolve. New tire is going on that wheel.
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Old 03-09-2021, 05:54 PM   #13
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I’m confused again!
For the past 36 years of driving 40k + miles every year. Every tire shop plugged my tires from the outside, never suggesting removing the tire from the rim to repair the tire.
I guess these new inside plugs are new .
The repair unit pictured in my post has been around in various forms since the 60's. They are even made as stems only for repairing punctures at an angle. Put them in, cut flush, add patch on top.

Plugs are popular at a lot of tire shops because they are "quick and dirty". Not professional or propper.
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Old 03-09-2021, 07:07 PM   #14
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tire plugs

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The repair unit pictured in my post has been around in various forms since the 60's. They are even made as stems only for repairing punctures at an angle. Put them in, cut flush, add patch on top.

Plugs are popular at a lot of tire shops because they are "quick and dirty". Not professional or propper.
Those cannot be used from the outside as in an emergency roadside repair that can be used to get to a shop to have a proper repair done.
When I was in the car repair business, way back when, we used a plug gun that inserted a soft rubber mushroom looking plug. You reamed to hole a little then put the plug in the "barrel" and inserted it from the outside. The mushroom head would expand once inside and with using some vulcanizing solvent it sealed as you withdrew the tool. We would just cut the nub off flush at the outside. At the time there were not many steel belted tires around but I would drive on a plugged tire under the tread was gone.
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Old 03-09-2021, 07:14 PM   #15
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The last couple of punctures I've had were repaired from the inside (which I insider on) using the plug/patch described by Titan Mike. That was the first I've heard of them. Worked great
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Old 03-09-2021, 08:28 PM   #16
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Thoughts on Fix-a-flat type sealants?
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Old 03-09-2021, 09:10 PM   #17
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EMERGENCY only, plus you probably will never get the tire balance right.
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Old 03-09-2021, 09:35 PM   #18
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I've had two flats the same day at least 4 times in my life. I can't imagine traveling without a spare.
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Old 03-09-2021, 09:44 PM   #19
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Thoughts on Fix-a-flat type sealants?
Some cars now come with a small 12 v compressor and a canister of Fix-a-Flat type sealant that mounts on the compressor. Works good as I can attest. My Volt has no spare and I got a small piece of metal in one tire in my first week of ownership.

The later formulas of Fix a Flat are safe for use with internal TPMS sensors. Basically a latex slurry with a propellant.

The big issue with it is that it makes a mess for the tire dealer that needs to properly repair the tire. The "gunk" needs to be hosed out then the inside of the tire needs to be dried out before the real repair can proceed.

Some dealers charge extra if they have to clean out the tire, as they should for extra work.

If you do use Fix-a-Flat, be sure to get the tire repaired properly asap, not weeks later.

Last note on Fix a Flat. You do not want to pull out the puncturing object before installing the Fix-a-Flat. The object is merely sealed with the latex like sealant that's injected. The downside to this is if the puncturing object is long, like a framing nail, it could cause damage to the inside of the tire. This is another reason to proceed ASAP to a tire repair shop and have the tire dismounted for repair before more damage is done.
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Old 03-09-2021, 09:46 PM   #20
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The last couple of punctures I've had were repaired from the inside (which I insider on) using the plug/patch described by Titan Mike. That was the first I've heard of them. Worked great
The benefit in using this type or repair is that the patch and stem are coated with a chemical cure "gum" which will bond with the tire rubber becoming essentially an integral part of the tire. Both seals and stabilized the area around the injury.
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