So you’re cruising down the road and you realize that one of your tires is going flat. You (hopefully) pull over soon as it’s safe and get your spare tire installed. Next step is off to the tire shop to have your tire repaired. When they ask you what kind of repair would you like done, we really hope your response will not be “whatever is cheapest” or “whatever is fastest”. A tire repair is a very important decision in regards to the safety of the tire so it’s important to be informed.
There are three main types of tire repair: Plug, Patch, and Plug-Patch.
A plug simply fills the puncture with some material to make the tire air tight again from the outside. It is the fastest and likely the cheapest. Although a plug repair seals the puncture from the outside, it does not guarantee that the inner liner will be sealed leaving the potential for air to seep into the tire casing and even seep out completely. Also, when a plug repair is done, the inside of the tire is not inspected meaning there could be a hidden danger that you are not even aware of.
A patch repair is the next step up in repairs where the tire is removed from the rim which allows the technician to inspect the tire’s interior. This is important because there could be additional damage inside the tire that cannot be seen from the outside. The problem with a patch repair is that although it makes the tire air tight from the inside, it does not fill the puncture from the outside. This means there is the potential for small debris and moisture to get into this puncture and put stress on the patch repair and also to cause any steel belts to begin to rust and deteriorate.
The highest step in tire repairs is the plug-patch and it is the only repair that we recommend. This repair combines the best of both worlds. The tire is removed from the rim and inspected. The puncture is repaired from the inside making the tire air tight, but there is also a plug that is pulled through the puncture to completely fill the hole making sure no small debris can enter and no moisture gets into the tire’s casing.
Now that you know what the differences are, you can make an informed decision to choose a repair that is safe and should maintain your tire’s useable life without allowing any subsequent damage or deterioration.