The “Can I drive long distance with a plugged tire?” question often comes to mind when your sole repair plan for punctured tires is tire plugs. These plugs are usually a quick fix for punctured tires; they are expandable rubber strips used to seal a hole from the inside.
It would be best if you didn’t attempt to drive for long miles with a sealed tire unless you’re sure the plug is placed correctly. This article discusses how safe it is to drive a car with sealed tires and other essential details.
- 1 Can You Drive a Long Distance With a Plugged Tire?
- 2 How Can You Plug a Leaky Tire?
- 3 Conclusion
Can You Drive a Long Distance With a Plugged Tire?
No, you can’t drive a long distance with a plugged tire, you can only do so if they have been plugged in perfectly. You can usually go for eight miles with a plug strip on your tires. Remember that plugs are only temporary fixes.
Plugs are used to repair a puncture on top of the tire tread. However, you should not attempt to travel more than a few miles if you have a puncture on the sidewalls of your tires. A plug doesn’t necessarily act as an optimal sealant for such holes. Although you can plug your tires, you still need to drive to the nearest service center to replace them.
– Driving With Plugged Tires
It isn’t safe to drive with tires you’ve plugged because plugs are meant to be temporary fixes. Plugging your tires is a quick solution when you have a flat tire and can’t get to an auto repair shop immediately. Plugging your tires for a long time can be dangerous to you and the vehicle’s occupants. First, the solution isn’t safe if the puncture hole is very wide and is located at the sidewall of the tire.
If the puncture occurs at an angle that isn’t straight, plugging the tires isn’t safe because it doesn’t efficiently seal the hole. In this case, the tire will lose pressure until you’re back to having a flat tire. Also, driving with tires that have been plugged in isn’t safe since it is just a tire patch that prevents the loss of tire air pressure. It doesn’t necessarily close up the hole.
Hence, you’re still driving with tires that need urgent replacement. If you have a penchant for speeding, you should replace your punctured tires, as plugging your tire doesn’t cut it. Speeding with plugs on your tires increases the chances of a crash or blowout.
– Tire Plug Duration
A tire plug doesn’t last forever. These plugs are designed to let you travel for a short distance until you can find an automobile repair or if you don’t have a spare tire. Although most plug strip manufacturers push the narrative that a plug can last up to five years, this isn’t true. At some point, the tires will deflate.
These plugs can cause more harm than good if they aren’t correctly installed. If you are dealing with a punctured tire, you should repair it immediately as plugs aren’t designed as a permanent fix.
– Causes of Tire Punctures
The most common cause of a tire puncture is sharp objects, among several other things. Your tires can get punctured if they come in contact with sharp objects like broken glass, screws, nails, etc. If you drive around construction or industrial areas, you’re likely to have a punctured tire from the many sharp bits lying around.
Another common cause of a tire puncture is if your tires are worn. If you have used your tires for years, expecting the thread quality to drop is normal. Continually driving with such weak tires will increase the chances of a puncture.
Bad roads also contribute to tire puncture because they can cause damage to your tires, especially if the roads are very bumpy or unpaved. Driving with over-inflated or under-inflated tires also causes tire punctures. When your tires lack the correct air pressure needed to function correctly, it becomes susceptible to punctures.
– Driving Long Distance With a Plugged Tire With a Screw in It
You can’t drive with a sealed tire for many miles when there’s a screw in it. Although it is possible to plug your car even with a screw lodged in it, it is unsafe. The screw can cause your tires to lose air pressure even though it has been plugged in.
– Cost of Plugging a Tire
Plugging a tire costs between $10 to $20. However, this cost may vary depending on the puncture’s size. It also depends on the extent to which the tire was damaged. The installation’s labor cost also contributes to the overall price.
– Plugging vs Patching Tires
Patched tires are better than plugged tires because they work well in sealing bigger holes. However, they only work well if the gap isn’t on the side or the shoulder of the tire. Hence, it makes only a little difference whether you plug or patch your punctured tires.
How Can You Plug a Leaky Tire?
You can plug a leaky tire by properly inserting the plug strip into the puncture hole and cutting it. You need to find out the area that needs to be sealed and follow specific steps to be sure they’re correctly installed.
– Locate the Puncture
The first step in fixing a leaky tire is to find out where the puncture happened. Finding where the damage occurred makes it easier to repair the hole; however, discovering where there’s a puncture can be slightly challenging.
A tip that helps is spraying your tires with water that contains a small amount of dishwashing liquid. Anywhere you notice bubbles coming from is the spot that has been punctured.
– Determine if Plugging Is Appropriate
When is it appropriate to plug your tire? You can only plug your car if you have damage on the top thread of your tire. Also, you can plug your punctured tire if the hole is less than 0.25 inches. Rubber strips are designed to be used on small holes since they’re temporary fixes.
Finally, you can plug your tires if you’re far from an auto repair store or don’t have a spare tire. A plug can only let you drive for short miles until you can properly repair your tires.
You should not plug the tire if the hole is more extensive than 0.25 inches. Plugs aren’t designed as a permanent tire repair solution; they only prevent you from losing more air pressure. If you have a wide puncture, you should visit the nearest service center. You shouldn’t plug your tire if it has a hole on the sidewall or shoulder; if a puncture occurs on any of the listed parts, you should replace it immediately.
– Enlarge the Hole
Once you discover the damaged spot, the next thing to do is to enlarge the punctured area using a reaming tool. If the puncture appears very small, you can use a smaller drilling tool to widen the hole.
You should ensure the hole is wide enough so that it is easy to remove whatever caused the damage. After doing that, try to roughen the inside surface of the tires for easy installation of your plugs.
– Prepare the Plug
When the hole has been widened enough to allow easy plugging, you shouldn’t just go straight to inserting the plug strip. Instead, shake the tire to ensure there isn’t dirt, debris, or other pieces lodged inside that can cause improper installation.
Make sure that your work area is cleaned of these items. This ensures they do not interfere with the installation process or cause potential issues.
– Insert the Strip
The next step to fixing a leaky tire is to insert the plug strip. This point is when the actual installation begins. First, you must use a tire sealant on the plug strip and the puncture. After this, insert your plug strip into the damaged location, utilizing a plugging tool.
One helpful tip when installing the plug strip is to ensure it has excess length left so it sticks out of the hole after installation.
– Inflate Your Tires
Once the plug strip is in place, you should inflate your tires to regain the necessary air pressure. To avoid improper inflation, you should use a tire pressure gauge to ensure it is at most what is needed. After doing that, you can repeat the process of spraying your tires with soapy water.
If you notice bubbles, it indicates an improper installation. If there’s none, that means you plugged your car without mistakes.
– Cut the Extra Strip
After successfully installing your plug, you can cut off the extra rubber strip jutting out from your puncture. You only need to cut an inch off the excess strip so that there’s enough to prevent air release. Cutting it too close to the puncture doesn’t guarantee a well-sealed tire, and you might experience a deflated tire again.
– Take a Test Drive
You can test the success of your installation by driving around for a while to see if your wheels work smoothly. If you notice some difficulty with the wheels, it may indicate an underlying issue that wasn’t addressed. Otherwise, your tires should work perfectly.
How can you tell if you plugged the tire perfectly? You can tell if a plug is reliable if your tire no longer leaks air. If your tires get flat some hours or a day after being plugged, you can tell the plug isn’t reliable.
If that is the case, it would be better to just remove the tire plug. You can remove a tire’s plug by using a plier to drag out the extra length of rubber strip that juts out from the puncture. You can push the entire strip into the tire using a plugging tool or screw.
You can plug tires twice. However, most professional mechanics only agree to fill a tire up to three times. If you have to plug a single tire more than twice, it indicates a severe problem that should be addressed immediately. If you plug your tires more than twice, you should replace them to guarantee your safety while you drive.
Although plugs are the fastest solution for punctured tires, they are considered unsafe.
Here’s a recap of the key points discussed in this article:
- Can I drive long distance with a plugged tire? The answer is no. You can only go short miles with a filled tire because it is temporary and doesn’t completely fix your tire hole.
- It is unsafe to drive with a tire that has been plugged in because it can cause an accident or blowout to happen.
- A plug doesn’t last forever and shouldn’t be considered a permanent fix for punctured tires. If you have a hole in your tire, you should replace it at the nearest auto repair shop.
- Several things can cause a tire puncture. These include sharp objects, improper inflation, bad roads, and worn tires.
- You can use a plug for more minor punctures that occur on the thread of the tire. It would be best if you didn’t use it when the hole is wider than 0.25 and occurs at the tire’s sidewall.
You now know that it is only safe to drive just a few miles with a tire that has been plugged in. It would be best if you only used a plug as a quick fix to help you drive to the closest service center for repairs.
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