Great — just great. Your tire is flat, and you need to be somewhere important. If that’s the case at this very second, we’re honored you chose to read this article about how to fix it yourself so you can be on your way.
The thing is, this is going to take a bit of prep, so hopefully your flat happened in your driveway, and you can go back inside and grab some stuff. By the way, this guide assumes the hole is in the tread portion of the tire. If it’s in the sidewall, now is the time to call a tow truck or just put on your spare.
What You Need to Plug Your Tire
Don’t worry; this will only take about 15 minutes. Before you get started, collect your supplies:
- A jack, which should be in your trunk with the spare
- A tire plugging kit
- A pair of pliers
- A pair of wire cutters
- A spray bottle full of soapy water
- Paper towels
- Tire plugging strips
- Sealing cement
Got your gear? Let’s get started!
Find the Leak
Jack up the car so the offending tire is off the ground. Fill it with air just enough to give it shape. If the leak isn’t obvious, spray the soapy water around the tire and look for bubbles. Now, break out the pliers and pull out the foreign object. Keep it as a souvenir if you like.
Clean Up the Hole
Using the reamer from your plugging kit, work the hole until it’s nice, clean, and round. You might need a drill to get it started.
Plugging the Hole
Put on your gloves. Insert a plug strip into the insertion tool and coat the strip with your sealing cement. Then coat the tire hole with the cement. Push the tool into the hole deep enough that about an inch of the plug is dangling out. Remove the tool, but make sure the plug doesn’t come with it.
Fill your tire, but not all of the way! Go 10% lower than the max pressure rating. Spray some more soapy water to ensure the leak is fixed. Wipe away the cement and give it five minutes. Cut the plug with your wire cutters, but leave about an eighth of an inch.
You Don’t Have a Tire Plugging Kit??
Take the wheel and tire off the car, search for the leak, and remove the obstruction. Then, grab an old tire you don’t care about and cut off a piece that’s about the size of the puncture wound in the tire you want to save.
Get some strong rubber cement or Gorilla Glue and coat your patch thoroughly. Push the patch into the hole and cut any excess with your wire cutters. Wait about ten minutes. Fill the tire 10% below max pressure, and use the soapy water to check for leaks.
Is this a permanent fix? No. Your plugged tire is an emergency solution, and you’ll need to get your tire repaired or replaced by a professional. Still, you won’t be as late for your meeting.
Plugging a tire isn’t too difficult with the right tools and supplies. You can even do it without a dedicated tire plugging kit!