Tire Repair Problems

Dear Tracy,
I recently experienced a leaking tire problem after running over an unavoidable pile of road debris. My brother was able to locate the object that punctured my tire, remove it, and patch it with an inexpensive plug kit he purchased. The tire is now leaking again, and I don’t see any signs of a new puncture, so I am guessing the plug did not work. Do you think he installed the plug incorrectly, or is it always best to just replace the tire after damage?
–Maureen M.

Dear Maureen,
In the event of tire damage, it is not always necessary to replace the tire. Tires are expensive! If the tire is in decent condition and has plenty of tread left, it makes sense to try a repair. And if the tire is relatively new, you may have warranty coverage for the damage.

There are a number of reasons that could explain why your tire is still leaking. It could be that the plug was not installed correctly, but it also may be that the damage was not conducive to plug repair. Plugs work best for repair when the angle of the penetrating object is straight, and when the puncture is between the treads. Other types of punctures may require patching, which is often done in conjunction with a plug. Also, it is entirely possible that your tire actually has another leak, since you ran over a pile of debris. Just because you don’t see something sticking in the tire does not mean there was not a second puncture.

At this point, it would probably be a good idea to take the tire in to a professional and have it inspected. Your tire dealer has methods for finding leaks, and also determining the best type of repair for the job.