How to fix that flat tire with some easy DIY tire plugs

Flat tires are one of the few things that can put a hard stop on your driving plans. Fortunately, Hagerty’s Davin Reckow is here to explain how a simple tire plug kit can get you back on the road quicker than ever—sometimes without taking off the wheel.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/07/10/fix-flat-tire-diy-tire-plugs

Did you guys proof read the article? “Once the plug is forced through the tire casing, the tool will unhook from the plug and is removed.”
This us clearly not the case as the plug diesn’t come free from the tool until the tool is withdrawn from the tire. A pretty big miss that thankfully is correctly shown in the video.

I’ve used these a couple of times when my daughter was in college an hour drive away. I can confirm they’re essentially permanent. This is a great reminder to throw one of those kits next to my mini-compressor when I travel out of town.
The Corvair in the background…did Kyle sponsor this vid? :thinking::sunglasses:

Really? Why? The chronology is technically correct. Not clearly stating that the plug (usually but not always) detaches (severes) from the tool as it’s withdrawn affects exactly what? Sheesh.

@Jim-R - Sharp eye… We might have been filming a few DIYs that day, and the Corvair may or may not have needed some work.

Yes it works, but is a temporary fix that should be replaced by a proper plug/patch ( and inspection of the tire inner carcass) at the earliest opportunity. And, if you drive at higher speeds, be aware that every tire manufacturer makes it clear in their warranty that a tire repair invalidates the speed rating of the tire. Scare tactic? Some think do, but have you ever had a tire come apart at 100+ mph. Trust me, you don’t want to. Many tire shops refuse to repair higher speed-rated tires for this very reason.

No offense but I wouldn’t have mentioned it if it were “chronologically correct”. The article clearly states the tool disengages with the plug when it is forced through the tire. If that were the case the plug would be inside the tire with no way to withdraw it back into the puncture to seal it.
The fact that the opening in the tool is on the leading edge just so it doesn’t disengage the plug on entry but on withdrawal when the leading edge is now the trailing edge. Remember a few never evers might depend on these articles so details sometimes matter.

Some tire shops will install plugs for free. I imagine that they figure the opportunity to sell and install new tires to customers whose tires are unrepairable outweighs the costs of the free plugs. I’ve had some plugs installed before I decided to try it myself, ironically, with what appears to be the same exact kit as in the video.

One minor correction I would note is that the reamer tool isn’t meant so much to remove a rock or similar item as it is to even-out the edges of the hole for solid, uniform contact with the plug. That is, you’re changing a jagged tear into a nice, round hole.

I think I will just call the good folks at Hagerty road side assistance and have them throw my spare on and then proceed to the nearest Good Year or other tire store and have them plug/patch it! For the 20 bucks it takes I really won’t get dirty trying to screw it up. :grinning:

I’m a firm believer in plugs (my kids call them “tire licorice”).
I’ve had them on plow trucks, off road trucks, minivans, motorcycles (street), and a few Pontiacs… I used them until the tires were used up, and the plugs never failed. One of them has seen quite a few burnouts, and still holds air like a new tire.
Quick fix to get you into town or away from zombies, or long term solution… you decide.

Thanks for the tip, Hagerty!

And then… How do you drive on it with no tire pressure?
I’m assuming the spare is missing or NG, otherwise why bother, unless you’re trying to save $5, and that’s if you know where the leak is.

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mdeltergo - speaking of “proof reading”, did you? lol


Excellent video for a quick fix to get you back on the road. However, getting you the air needed to re-inflate your tire would be a good tip as well. Many people carry air pumps in their “trunk” - most don’t. Either you are near an air source or you’re not. Perhaps a followup article on the latest and greatest on that would be good. Lastly, usually the cryptic comments are from people who aren’t skilled in repairs, so their lack of understanding the big picture of what is being offered is limited.

I’ve been using these type of plugs for 20 plus years and have never had an issue. They are great as in most cases you don’t need to remove the tire. One thing the video did not show is when are pulling something out of the tire the air pressure may jettison that piece of metal out of the tire. Have had this happen a few times and typically you face is over the tire. I now place a rag over the pliers thus blocking the object from flying out.

A proper repair also depends an awful lot on the location. I’ve had sidewalls repaired with no problem, however, I took it to a professional. Its so easy to call AAA and have somebody else do it. We experienced a flat tire on a 4 lane highway and it wasn’t to long before the State Police showed up and informed me that I could not repair the tire on the side of the road. A tow truck was on the way whether I wanted it or not. I had no choice. Would not even let me put the spare on. I repaired the tire as soon as the tow truck unloaded the car in a big lot they used for the towed cars. Did you know that if you ask someone what a tire iron is, they will inevitably show you a lug nut or rim wrench.

I used to work at a small town station where we sold used cars, pumped gas, changed tires, did full mechanical work, even sold propane and did UPS. We had the option back then to plug for a lesser price and I too plugged many of my tires. I was very poor back when I started and drove / road raced at high rates of speed in the Sierra Nevada’s even having blowouts on bald tires, “like I said very poor”. Fact is some of those tires were even plugged and the plugs remained in the tire. I never had the red cloth type plug fail ever, but although I did not install and did not like the rubber style plugs I have seen them fail. I also never saw a bead ever separate from one of my plugs but as far as I know I am the only one who went twice the speed limit through turns and over 100 mph on straight-a-ways. Still alive and hotrodding at almost sixty but would not recommend my long ago youthful indiscretions to anyone who would want to live a full life.

I too am a firm believer in these plugs. I have been using them for 30+ years and have plunged nearly 100 tires, never had a failure. I’ve even had success with using 2 plugs for a large hole. I’ve used them on sidewall punctures as well and they work just fine, no balance issues at all and thousands more miles on the tires at highway speeds.
A few suggestions are my experience and opinions-
Over inflate the tire some before you pull out the screw, nail or whatever object, then mark the spot with a chalk circle so you don’t lose it, sometimes the hole is very small. Then after carefully extracting the object, if it is obvious that air is flowing out of the hole stick the reamer tool in right away to help stop lose of air. It’s easier to plug an inflated tire as opposed to a deflated tire (as in the video). If no sign of air lose is evident after pulling the object out, check for air lose with soapy water. Sometimes short screws don’t actually puncture the tire carcass and no plug is needed.
This procedure can also easily be done without taking the tire off the car if you also have a compressor. If you find the object on the treads just slowly move the car so that the object is at about 4 o’clock or 8 o’clock looking at the front of the wheel (whichever is easier to get at). Lay down and plug it. Don’t worry about putting the rubber glue on the plug either, I’ve never used it as the plugs are very sticky and seal tight without it. I carry these plugs and a mini compressor in all my vehicles so not to have to deal with changing a spare. And my Corvette doesn’t have a spare. Plugs are much better than foam inflation sealants.

I’m not an expert but I have seen the horrific results of an improperly repaired tire and I have listened to the testimony of several experts. The Rubber Manufactures Association recommends using a plug and patch. The industry uses a Plug/patch combination for repairs unless the angle of the hole prevents the combo’s use. In those cases a separate plug & patch are used. Additionally, sidewalls are not repairable. www.tireindustry.org/tire-maintenance/tire-repair

I am guilty of plugging a tire and never giving it a second thought. It is convenient and may hold for the life of the tire. However, it is not worth the risk of experiencing a tire failure at 80 mph. Plugs are temporary repairs. They are meant to get you to a competent tire shop where the tire can be permanently repaired. I enjoy the Hagerty articles and look forward to the emails. However, this article should have never been published.

The directions say to push the plug in 2/3 of the way and then pull the tool out (hopefully) leaving the plug in. There is a slot in the tip of the tool so this may work. Some tools have the slot in the side if the loop which requires the alternate method of pushing the plug in all the way and pulling the end out. The latter method seems more dependable. The instructions and the tool may not match.

I need to put an emergency tire repair kit together for wife’s Tesla M3. Any suggestions by anyone who has actually used what they recommend for either an entire kit or for individual tools and plugs as well as an air compressor?

Using a conventional roadside tire repair kit may be difficult for your wife unless she’s got good upper body strength. I would recommend a can of tire fix as it may inflate tire and seal it so she can get home or to the station. it also will probably screw up the tire pressure sensor but repairing the tire that way would at least get her out of a bad fix.