The Differences Between a Tire Plug and Patch

You may have used the terms tire plug and tire patch interchangeably, but the truth is, they have their differences. If you ran over a nail or other sharp object when driving and it punctured your tire, it’s good to know you may not have to replace the whole thing. It all depends on the type and extent of the damage.

The two main methods of tire repair are tire plugs, and tire patch and plug combos. Let’s go over the differences between these methods.

Tire Plug

This is a sticky, expandable object that your mechanic will push from the outside of the tire into the punctured area of the tread to the inside. They will then adjust it until no more air leaks from the tire. This method doesn’t involve removal of the tire or the rim, and no thorough inspection for inner liner damage takes place.

This is the quickest and easiest way to stop a leak. However, they don’t work on all kinds of punctures, and they are often only a temporary solution. You will likely have to have a more extensive repair over time, or complete replacement.

Be cautious with tire plugs:

  • Tire plugs can trap air between the layers of tire tread, causing the tread to separate over time.
  • Tire plugs may wear down eventually and re-introduce air or water leaks.
  • Tire plugs don’t completely seal the inner liner against air or water that can get in.
  • The U.S. Tire Manufacturer Association (USTMA) and the Tire Industry Association (TIA) say plug repairs are not a safe or legitimate way of repairing a tire.
  • Many tire manufacturers, such as Michelin, void the manufacturer’s warranty on improperly repaired tires, and that includes tire plugs.
  • Because the tire is not removed, the mechanic cannot inspect the inside of the tire or sidewall for more extensive issues.

Tire Patch and Plug Combo

This is a combination of two tire repair methods: the tire plug and a repair patch. The plug in this instance, made of rubber, is inserted into the hole, with a tire patch (a circular rubber disk) attached to the other end. This disk adheres to the inside of the tire, which essentially covers the hole and seals off the inner liner.

To use this method, your mechanic has to remove the tire from the rim or wheel for a thorough inspection of additional damage. If it is found to be repairable, the mechanic will install the tire plug and patch combo from the inside out.

Pros of Tire Plug and Patch Combo

This method is generally preferred for longevity. Here are some more pros.

  • This method is recognized by the USTMA and the TIA as the proper and safe way to repair a tire.
  • This method will not void most manufacturer tire warranties.
  • The risk of repair failure with this method is very low.

So, while a tire plug is quicker and more convenient, you should have a certified mechanic properly repair your tire with the combo method.

Contact I&I Tires

If you have punctured your tire and need roadside assistance, schedule a convenient appointment online. If your tires must be replaced due to extensive damage, browse our shop today.