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Photo of a nail stuck in the middle of a car tire tread
tires

Apr 21, 2022

What is the Difference Between a Tire Plug and a Tire Patch?

If you’ve run over a nail or other object that has punctured your tire, we would first like to say we’re sorry! That’s never a fun situation to be in and is a major inconvenience, but let’s get you back on the road quickly and safely. With a punctured tire, other than replacing the tire your best option is to have the tire repaired. There are a few methods of tire repairs on the market these days and the two major methods are either using just a tire plug or a tire repair patch and plug combo. You may be asking yourself, is there a real difference between a tire plug and a tire repair patch and plug combo? The short answer is YES. There are some big differences that may affect your safety and your wallet in the long run.

What's a Tire Plug?

Technician inserting a tire plug

A tire plug on its own is a sticky, expandable object that gets pushed from the outside of the tire into the damaged or punctured area of the tire tread to the inside of the tire and is adjusted until the air is no longer leaking from the tire. The tire is never removed from the rim or thoroughly inspected for damage to the inner liner of the tire. Although simply plugging a tire is a quick and easy process and the leak may stop, it is easy to believe that the tire is permanently repaired and good to go; unfortunately, that's not the case. Tire plugs are a quick fix and can fail over time.

Beware: Tire Plug Usage Warnings

  • Tire plugs may cause air to become trapped between the layers of the tire tread, eventually causing the tire tread to separate.
  • Tire plugs can wear down over time and air or water leaks can reoccur.
  • Tire plugs on their own do not completely seal off the inner liner from air or water entering the tire.
  • The U.S. Tire Manufacturer Association (USTMA) and the Tire Industry Association (TIA) do not consider a tire plug repair to be a legitimate or safe method to repair a tire
  • Many tire manufacturers, like Michelin, will void the manufacturer warranty on the tire if it is “improperly repaired”, which they consider a tire plug on its own to be, and you will then need to purchase a new tire in full.
  • Since the damaged tire has not been removed from the rim or wheel to perform a tire plug repair, the inside of the tire cannot be inspected for potential damage to the interior sidewall caused by the object that punctured the tire.

 

What's a Tire Repair Patch and Plug Combo?

 Image of a tire patch and plug combo with arrows pointing to which end is the plug and which one is the patch

A tire repair patch and plug combo is a combination of two tire repair technologies: the tire plug (or stem) and a tire repair patch. Let’s break it down. The tire repair plug or stem is made of rubber and used to plug the hole, like the standalone tire plug. Attached to one end of the tire plug is the tire patch. The patch is a circular rubber disk that is intended to adhere to the inside of the tire, covering the puncture hole, sealing off the inner liner of the tire. To use the tire repair plug and patch combo, the tire must be removed from the rim or wheel and thoroughly inspected on both the inside and outside of the tire for additional damage by a certified auto technician. After the tire has been deemed repairable, the technician will follow all the correct tire repair procedures, including installing the tire repair plug and patch combo, plug/stem first, from the inside of the tire to the outside.

Why You Should Use a Tire Repair Plug and Patch Combo

  • The tire repair plug and patch combo has been recognized by the USTMA and the TIA as the safest and correct way to repair a tire.
  • Tire manufacturers consider the tire patch and plug combo to be a proper tire repair and are allowed under most manufacturer tire warranties.
    • Please review tire manufacturer warranty information for complete coverage details.
  •  The risk of repair failure due to the installation of the tire repair plug and patch combo is incredibly low.

Although a tire plug may be quicker and more convenient to use on your flat tire repair, we would strongly urge you to find a certified auto technician, like the ones at Sullivan Tire and Auto Service, to properly repair your tire to get you back on the road safely.

At Sullivan Tire and Auto Service we follow the highest standards in all forms of safety, which is why we exclusively use the tire repair plug and patch combo for all tire repairs. If you are in need of tire repair services, please head to a Sullivan Tire and Auto Service location near you or request an appointment online.

 

Want FREE Flat Repairs?

Did you know if you have purchased the Tire Maintenance and Protection Plan with Sullivan Tire and Auto Service you qualify for free flat tire repairs? When you purchase your next set of tires with us, be sure to add the Tire Maintenance and Protection Plan at checkout, live chat with us on our website, or ask us about it in a store near you!