DIY plug vs. prof patch

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Yesterday, I found that I have what appears to be a rivet in the tread of one of my tires. I was about 70 miles from home when I noticed this and the tire didn't seem to be leaking, so I just left it. Now that I am home, I am wondering if I should drive 20 miles to the place where I bought the tires and have it fixed (road hazard warranty), or just go the the parts store and get a plug kit.
 
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Most of the external plug kits say that they are for temporary use. The proper repair normally involves breaking the bead from the rim and applying a patch on the inside of the tire, which patch can pretty much never fall out. The DIY plug types have some risk of coming out. That said, in years gone by I installed several on our family vehicles and they did not fail me. Even so, now I always get the repair done the proper way. John
 
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Plugs are only legal in trailer tires around here. That being said my mechanic puts them in passenger car tires despite being very tough on rubber brake hoses. I guess the question is, "Why are they now illegal?" This I want to know. I don't see them being able to come out once they wear down flush with the tread. Cheers, Steve
 
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At the most a new tire would cost 200 dollars, I would not risk using a plug that may come out at speed or hard braking. Once a tire goes there is not much controlling the vehicle. When I worked at a gas station 30 years ago I did not think plugs were good then and still don't trust them.
 
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kenw-the ones I used 30 years ago had caps also, they looked like a mushroom. They still can come out at high speeds. The owner had an El Camino with a 454 and I asked him if he would use them in his tires and he said not a chance. [Cheers!]
 
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quote:
Originally posted by oldman: kenw-the ones I used 30 years ago had caps also, they looked like a mushroom. They still can come out at high speeds. The owner had an El Camino with a 454 and I asked him if he would use them in his tires and he said not a chance. [Cheers!]
that's what I remember on the old plugs. The newer ones (that I've seen) have a circle about 1" in diameter?, very flat and compliant. I actually thought they were a patch, but they have a short stubby plug protruding to position it and are installed from outside without removing the tire/wheel. They drilled out the hole to enlarge it quite a bit to get all this to fit. Perhaps this was something really unique? Still not something I felt comfortable with for my tires. I paid the extra $5 to have it dismounted. Even on my somewhat-less-powerful Camry 3.0L......
 
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I don't trust those swizzle stick plugs or any other kind at higher speeds. That means I wouldn't go over 80 if I had a plugged tire. That said, I've never had an issue with any plugged tire. I don't know what the law says regarding the use of plugs here in California, but I do see the regular swizzle sticks at the parts stores. A few years ago my left rear tire ("Bad"Year RSA, not plugged) disintegrated going down the freeway at about 75 mph. There was lots of droning noise, but absolutely no sign of a tire problem. No pulling, no shudder, nothing. By the time I could pull over and stop, the completely deflated tire had begun spinning on the rim and was smoking. There was never ANY indication other than noise that anything was wrong. A deaf driver would have kept going merrily, smoking, catching fire, burning... While this is a testament to the exceptional design of my car's multi-link suspension, I believe a tire pressure monitoring system should be mandatory on the A4. I had a rear tire blow out going 125mph in my Scirocco once, and while it was pretty scary, there was no doubt what had happened.
 
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Modern plugs are a length of cord impregnated with un-cured rubber. Properly installed, they never come out. They can only be used for nail-type punctures. When exposed to air and heat, they vulcanize and become part of the tire. The problem with many repairs is that the technician creates a new hole when probing the puncture, then he plugs this second hole...While this seals the tread, the unrepaired hole allows air to penetrate the cord plys and belts and will eventually separate them causing the tire to fail. This has given plugs a bad reputation. Also, you should NEVER plug a tire unless you pull the object out. If the object that caused the puncture is not found, then the tire MUST be broken down to make sure the object is NOT inside the tire!
 
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I was really skeptical of those twisted rubber cord "swizzle stick" plugs when I first used them but after patching many tires with them I've never had one fail. We leased a building for a while that was owned by a heating and air conditioning company. They used to drop the old furnaces out in back where a lot of us had to park but it seems like all the sheet metal screws ended up in the driveway and in our tires. Many punctures and plugs later I decided that kind of patch worked pretty well...
 
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fyi, modern plugs are much better than the old ones, they have a "cap" that seals the inside much like a patch. It is still inserted from the outside, the head (or patch part) is rolled to fit thru the hole and expands once inside. Altho I think they are infinitely better than the old straight plugs, I still like the idea of a real patch applied with full visibility of the inside of the tire, onto a surface scraped and prepped to accept the adhesive. The older style (headless plug is the one that is illegal in most states, the newer style is legal in most places as far as I know.
 
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quote:
I was really skeptical of those twisted rubber cord "swizzle stick" plugs when I first used them but after patching many tires with them I've never had one fail.
Exactly, I've never had one come out or leak. But don't get me wrong, I trust them only to a point, which is street-legal speeds. What really bugs me is that I always get a punctured tire right after buying new tires. If I see construction site near my house, I go the other way and around the site. I saw a slow motion video showing how a tire picks up nail or screw. It's pretty amazing to watch!
 
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I've plugged tires over 20 times and never had a failure on a car tire being plugged. I have tried to plug a tubeless motorcycle tire and the plug shot right out of the tire. I have saved my self a bunch of money by plugging my own tires.
 
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A true story. Take it for what it is worth. Back when I was putting myself through school and money was short, on at least two occasions I had small nails or screws go through the tread of radial ply tires. They were holding air with the screw or nail in place, but as I tried to pry them out, the tire started to leak. I would push the nail or screw back in, and the leak would stop. What I did was get some GE silicone seal, pull the nail or screw out to the point where air was leaking out, smear it with the silicone seal, and then pushed the screw or nail back into the hole until it was flush or as far as it would go. I let the tire sit a day or so for the silicone seal to fully set up. The tires would then wear down the nail or screw head, and all you would see is the metal shaft flush with the tread. I was able to get the remaining life out of the tires. I am not recommending you do this. But with a puncture through a radial tread belt that is stiff, there is very little flexing.
 

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Besides air leaks, one important issue of punctures is that the steel belts start corroding. Any repair should use a compound that seals the plug so no moisture can get to the steel belts.
 
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If the hole is within reason, Michelin does not downgrade the speed rating of their high-performance tires if they have a proper plug/repair. I think that's really saying something.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by moribundman:
quote:
I was really skeptical of those twisted rubber cord "swizzle stick" plugs when I first used them but after patching many tires with them I've never had one fail.
Exactly, I've never had one come out or leak. But don't get me wrong, I trust them only to a point, which is street-legal speeds. What really bugs me is that I always get a punctured tire right after buying new tires. If I see construction site near my house, I go the other way and around the site. I saw a slow motion video showing how a tire picks up nail or screw. It's pretty amazing to watch!

Of course, it's Murphy's law on tire punctures - The chance of picking up a nail is directly proportional to the cost of the tire and the remaining tread life... [Big Grin]
 
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I have used tire plugs with good results also. However, I don't ever drive faster than 70-75 mph and check the inflation pressure regularly. The plugging kit will pay for itself the first time you use it. [Cheers!]
 
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For what its worth, my experience with plugs. I agree not safe, but when you're a broke student you'll do stupid things. Got a stick in the sidewall tread the BFG Rugged Trails that come stock on Toyota Tacoma 4x4s. Just a little bit down from the shoulder. The tires had less than 5000 miles. I plugged it. Drove on that tire for about 30,000 miles until bald. There were several off road miles, many trips above 100mph and many times drifting the truck in the twisties. Also a few 2000 mile road trips as well. It might not be "safe", but those plugs are pretty hardy from my experience. Like I said FWIW I have also plugged a tubless Motorcycle tire. I was 1000 miles from home. I plugged it and rode the rest of the way home. I carry a very extensive tire repair kit when I take trips on the bike. I even have a 12v compressor.
 
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