Wednesday, June 13, 2018

To Plug Or Not To Plug, That Is The Question - Are Tire Plugs OK?

Only Four Tires!
    Because my RV only has 4 tires, I am very sensitive to all things tire related. Obviously, temperature and pressure are very important. As is the age of your tires. When you only have four, losing one can be pretty dangerous and lead to a possibly nasty accident. What I'm saying is, check your tires! If you've ever had a puncture in your tires and wondered whether it was OK to plug the puncture and continue using the tire, you are not alone. I was wondering that same thing. After a lot of research and after contacting several tire manufacturers for their opinions I have come to a conclusion for myself.

Check The Date Code!
When you get a puncture in the tread of your tire, it's usually a nail or screw that's found itself on the road somehow. I've seen long pieces of stiff wire (like from a coat hangar) also embedded in car/truck/RV tires. What are the rules for repairing an RV tire puncture? Well, the most important thing to remember is to NEVER, EVER try and repair a puncture to the sidewall. It isn't at all safe and will not hold for very long or at all. So, if you have a sidewall puncture, GET ANOTHER TIRE! Let's say that your puncture is limited to the tire tread. These you CAN fix, but there are specific guidelines on just HOW they get repaired.

The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), a government agency, says you must remove the tire from the wheel, inspect the tire for problems internally, plug the hole and and patch the area around it on the inside of the tire. If the tire has been run any distance when flat, much damage can be done to the tire itself and it may not be safe to use, even if patched properly. The government isn't alone in this advice. Pretty much ALL the major manufacturers suggest following these guidelines. The ones that don't, suggest you buy a new tire. Hmm, I wonder why?

Most tire repair places won't dismount the tire and inspect, patch, and then plug. They'll simply plug the hole from the outside and fill with air. As far as I am concerned, that's too much of a risk. If you cannot see the damage inside, how do you know what's going on in there? That being said, I have NO problem plugging/patching a tire if it's done correctly. Especially if I JUST bought 4 new tires!

As with any decision involving risk, only you can determine what risk you are willing to undertake. How much is your life and/or property worth?? YMMV!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"


  1. The official guide is from the Rubber Manufactures Association:

  2. I'm a retired truck mechanic. The large transportation company I worked for required this "plug and patch" method and it works well when done properly.

  3. If you have a spare tire what I would do is have the tire with a nail in it properly repaired and use it as a spare. Then when you replace your tires replace all of them including the one that got the nail.

    1. Anon,
      As long as the spare is the same type and age as your other tires, that's great advice!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

  4. Michael,
    When you have a very expensive RV with expensive and sentimental value contents, why take a chance?

    Rich "The Wanderman"

  5. One January Sunday in SC, we stopped at a Pilot to fuel up in our Itssca Suncruiser. As my husband pulled from the pump to the dump station, an observer pointed out a low tire. It had a sharp curved piece of metal imbedded in the tread. The adjacent truck shop was closed. After trying evaluate our dilemna, we went inside and purchased one of those tire plug kits. We read the directions and Jimmy wasn’t strong enough to push the plug in. A young man came to our rescue and did a great job. It worked! I marked the rim with a piece of tape and I still check it over 3-1/2 years and 20,000 miles later. 😊


Thank you for your comment. Our moderator checks each one to make sure we keep the Spammers away. So the comment will likely not appear immediately.