Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Plug a sidewall puncture

Can you plug a sidewall puncture?

No, it’s not safe to plug a sidewall puncture. The sidewall area flexes far more than the “crown” or tread area of the tire. A sidewall puncture immediately compromises the integrity of the tire. No reputable show would repair a puncture in the sidewall with a plug or a combination plug/patch. It simply isn’t safe

Can you plug a shoulder puncture?

No. The shoulder area handles the most stress in turns and creates the most heat. Tire plugs and patches won’t hold safely in the shoulder area.

Repairable areas of a tire

This diagram shows the repairable areas of a tire. If you encounter a puncture outside of the safe areas, you cannot plug a sidewall puncture or even plug a shoulder puncture.

Repairable areas of a tire

Why tire plugs aren’t safe

When a tire is punctured in a repairable area, the object penetrates through the surface rubber, several radial belts, and the inner liner. All three areas must be sealed in a way that prevents water infiltration and restores the integrity of the inner liner. A plug alone can never do both.

A plug can’t seal the inner liner

A rope plug, inserted from the outside cannot seal the inner liner. During a proper repair, the inner liner is cleaned and abraided using a buffing tool to prepare the surface to accept a vulcanizing patch. A double-over rope plug, covered with rubber cement and shoved into the tire from the outside, cannot seal the inner liner properly like a patch.

A plug doesn’t properly seal the belts

When you fold a rope plug in half and shove it into the tire, you’re actually forcing a “figure-8” profile into the puncture. That always leaves voids and it’s those voids that allow water to enter the belts, causing them to corrode. Once corrosion starts, the belts are compromised.

Only a combo patch/plug can do the job

A patch plug, properly installed, seals the inner liner,

tire patch/plug

A proper patch/plug must be inserted from inside the tire, after the inner liner has been prepared

fills the belt area completely and seals out water.

©, 2020 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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