How Long Does a Tire Plug Last?

Anyone with a nail or other object piercing their tire will need it repaired or replaced. If it’s only a tiny hole, you can easily plug it up and continue driving on the same set of rubber. Obviously, this is ideal because it will be significantly cheaper than replacing a tire. However, how long will it last if you plug a tire or have an expert do it for you? Can you drive on a tire plug for as long as you want?

How long can you drive on a tire plug?

Close up view of tire, highlighting why car tires are black instead of white. When can you use a tire plug?
Car tire | Jaye Haych via Unsplash

According to Tire Outlet, companies claim that a properly installed tire plug can last seven to 10 years or 25,000 miles. However, that will not be the case if the plug isn’t installed perfectly. Thankfully, it isn’t complicated to install a plug yourself. Additionally, there is an easy way to know if the tire is appropriately plugged or if air is still leaking out.

If you’re unsure if air is coming from the location of a plug, that’s even easier. Cars.com says to put water and dish soap in a spray bottle and spray the area. If air comes out, the dish soap and water residue will form bubbles. If you’re unsure where the leak might be, spray the bottle all over the tire until you find the spot where bubbles begin to form.

This is a simple, easy trick to locate an air leak and check if your tire plug is installed correctly. If no air leaks from the tire around the plug, it should last a long time. Plugs aren’t like spare tires, which can only be driven at low speeds and are designed for temporary use. You can go for years with a plugged tire, and it will be perfectly safe.

When can you use a plug?

the tire size on the sidewall of a tire. Is a tire plug safe to use? How long does a tire plug last?
Tire size | Frank Albrecht via Unsplash

Choosing to patch or plug a tire can be a little bit tricky. For example, it mostly depends on the hole’s size and location. Typically, plugs are used after running over a nail, screw, or another small sharp object that pierces a small hole in the tire. In addition, they’re better used further away from the sidewall of the tire. This means plugs are OK to use on the tire’s treads all the way around. Just don’t try to plug either sidewall away from the treads.

Next, patches are used for slightly bigger holes, but it still needs to be small. Tire Outlet says the hole should be under a quarter-inch in diameter and not on the sidewall. While it can be closer to the sidewalls than plugs, it still can’t be directly on the side of the tire. In addition, patches are better for holes that aren’t straight, tiny holes created by a nail like those for which a plug would be used.

Are tire plugs safe to use?

RELATED: Your Electric Vehicle Needs Special Tires, According to Consumer Reports

According to Tire Outlet, there are strict regulations on what makes a tire safe to use. The best thing you can do is take it to an expert and get their opinion. You don’t want to plug a tire poorly or a hole that shouldn’t be plugged. Once something with the tire goes wrong, especially at highway speeds, it could be disastrous. We only recommend non-experienced car owners plug their own tires if it is a perfectly straightforward, small hole that’s easy to fix.

In conclusion, experts say a tire plug can last as long as ten years. However, most also say they’re only good for around 25,000 miles. Fortunately, a replacement will probably be required long before a plug lasts ten years. Although the size and location of the holes change whether a tire can be plugged, it’s much cheaper and easier than buying a new one. Still, it’s best to be perfectly safe by taking the tire to an expert before plugging it.

RELATED: Winter is Coming: Should You Get All-Wheel Drive or Winter Tires for the Snow?