Used to be, if you had a nail in a tire, it was fixed using a plug that would get inserted upon removing the nail. As radial tires became more common, they instead began to dismount the tire and repair it using a patch on the inside. In recent years, you may have seen resurgence in the use of the tire plugging method.  The Columbia SC Auto Repair Pro examines the plug method and patching techniques of tire repair.

Tire Plugs for Tire Repair – Then and Now

Plugs used to be utilized because they were a quick fix and pretty reliable. If the damage was something little, like a nail, a tire could be repaired in minutes. Of course, if the damage was worse, like a slice, patching was preferred because it could completely seal whatever shape or area needed to be covered.

When radial tires became more common, it didn’t take long to discover that the plugs were warping the tires, in turn, making them ride differently. That’s about the time that patching became the favored method of tire repair. There were also two methods of patching that could be utilized, either cold or hot application processes.

Today there are plugs designed to repair radial tires that are self-vulcanizing. This means they heat up as you drive causing them to “melt” into your tire and fusing into one piece. This is why we now see tire plugging again becoming the preferred method. Plugging is always a much faster tire repair. But just like before, if a tire is cut or sliced, patching is your best option.

More about Tire Patching Repair – Cold and Hot Patch Techniques

A cold patch, if applied correctly, will work great.  It does require buffing the inside of your tire and the application of a type of cement.  The appropriate sized tire patch is then placed over the damaged area and then must be sealed to the tire using a special tool.  While this method works fine, it can easily be done incorrectly, causing the patch not to seal, and leaving you with a leaking or flat tire all over again.

The hot patching method is much like the cold patch method, but the tire patch gets heated and is melted onto the inside of your tire.  The benefit of using the hot patch method is that your patch and tire get melted into one piece again.  Patching a tire using this method also requires a special heating clamp tool.

With the plugs available for today’s radial steel belted tires, the plugging method of tire repair is back to being the preferred choice.  Plugging a tire costs less and only takes a few minutes to complete.  Patching a tire using either of the methods will take longer and usually costs you at least twice as much.