No matter how advanced your car is, a tyre puncture is an occurrence you’ll have to endure every once in a while. Even if you have run flat tyres, a puncture still needs to be fixed. While massive punctures are usually unfixable, the common puncture is usually caused by a single nail or screw.
In the case of a puncture, you should get it fixed immediately, either by changing to a spare wheel, limping to the nearest tyre shop to get it fixed, or just doing it yourself. There are 2 ways to fix a punctured tyre – plugging and patching. By default, tyre shops will plug your tyres.
While a puncture on a normal tyre is a quick and cheap fix at the shop (plugging), some tyres (some run flats) require patching. Tyre patching is considered a better-quality tyre repair, but is more laborious.
Tyre plugs are short strips of leather covered with a gooey, unvulcanized rubber compounds. When forced into the punctured hole, the plug seals the void.
What is a tyre patch?
A tyre patch is a vulcanised adhesive “plaster” to patch the inside of the tyre. Using a tyre patch requires the tyre to be removed from the rim/wheel.
Is one method superior to the other?
Tyre patches seal the tyre from the inside while tyre plugs seal the tyre from the outside.
Using a tyre patch will allow you to conduct better inspection on your tyre condition. Patches also adhere better thanks to the extensive installation method.
A tyre patching job is aboutRM 30 while a tyre plug job is usually less thanRM 10.
Using a plug is supposedly “temporary”, but is a quick and easy fix that does not require removing the tyre from the wheel. Since tyre plugs seal from the outside, they also prevent water from getting to the steel belts inside your tyre.
So, why not use both then?
Yes. That’s exactly what tyre manufacturers would suggest. Tyre manufacturers consider that the only acceptable type of puncture repair is to remove the tyre from the wheel, and to insert a combination patch-plug from the inside of the tyre. There are patch-plugs sold that combine both patch and plug into one.
What is a tyre patch (Patch-plug)?
A patch-plug is a combination of both patch and plug. It looks like a mushroom.
How is a tyre patch-plug done?
You have to remove the tyre from the wheel. Using a patch-plug requires a lot more tools than using a simple tyre plug. You will need:
Rubber prep (for buffing)
A buffing wheel
A tyre patch stitcher
This video by Jacob Dyneko clearly demonstrates how a patch-plug job is done:
What can you see inside a tyre anyway?
If you’ve been driving with a flat tyre, the side walls of the tyre can deteriorate and create these rubber shavings inside the tyre. This means the tyre inner wall has been compromised. If you see this, you need to change to a new tyre. No plugging or patching will fix that.
Are tyre plugs bad then?
No. Although tyre plugs are supposedly used for temporary repairs, tyre plugs do tend to last quite long depending on how you drive. We’re pretty sure some of you who’ve had your tyres plugged and have them working just fine. For safety reasons however, it is much better to have a proper inspection on the condition of your tyres.
In the case of an emergency, plugging a tyre is a good enough solution. If you don’t have a repair kit or don’t have tyre shops in your vicinity, it is much easier if you just have a full-sized spare wheel. That way you’re not in a hurry to get your tyre fixed at a shop.
What do tyre plugs look like from inside the tyre?
What does a patch look like from the inside?
What does a patch-plug look like from the inside?
In summary, tyre manufacturers recommend using the plug-patch method that combines the benefit of both. Removing the tyre from the wheel allows proper assessment of the condition of the tyre. While tyre plugging should be temporary, it is a quick and easy fix that you can do yourself without having to remove the tyre from the wheel.
Whether patching, plugging, or patch-plugging, there are tyre damages that cannot be repaired by these methods. Sometimes, it is better to just get a new tyre.
Previously an engineer in an automotive manufacturing company and a highway concessionaire. A part-time research student on biofuels and diesel engines. Obsessed with vehicle electrification and the future of transportation.