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How to: Plug a Tire

Discussion in 'Off-Roading & Trails' started by nvdeserted, Apr 10, 2009.

  1. Apr 10, 2009 at 3:29 PM

    nvdeserted [OP] Well-Known Member

    Nov 27, 2008
    Reno, NV
    2009 Tacoma TRD OR Access Cab
    Electric Dynolock tailgate, TrailGear Slides, , 285/75-16 Yoko Geolanders on Wheelers Type B, SAW 2.0 front and back, Camburg b/j UCA, 1.5" AAL, Ubolt flip, ARB bump.
    Howdy, I've noticed there are alot of noobs looking for info for 4wheeling on this forum so I thought I might do some how to's... or if anyone has some go ahead and make 'em. I made one how to selectg the appropriate shovel to keep in your rig last week.

    All you noobs probably go wheeling with little more than a cell phone for back up; everyone should have a kit of useful common tools for tire repairs, truck repairs, and getting unstuck; I'm not going to list everything here, many have already done that. This one address the simple art of repairing your own tire using tire plugs.

    Plugging a hole in your tire is super simple, quick, and if done correctly it will be a permanent fix; plug-kits are very cheap, starting at $4.00. Hopefully you have a spare with you if you get a flat, and you only get 1 flat at a time. Plugging 1-3 holes in your tire is faster than putting on the spare. Now, plugs will only be used in small punctures in your tire, like if you get a nail stuck in there or something; they can also be mis-used in a pinch to get you back onto pavement or to a tire shop if you get a bad puncture which I'll discuss furthur down.

    What you'll need:
    1. At least 3 plugs, they look like short gooey strands of shoe lace. Most the time you only use 1 plug, but it's good to have extras incase you F up or if the hole is bigger you can use 2 or more until you get down (if you use more than 1 plug to fix the tire it is only temporary and should be driven on cautiously and professionally repaired or replaced asap).
    2. A tire "reamer", it's basically a round cross-cut file for cleaning the puncture hole and making it uniform.
    3. A plug threading tool, it's basically a large sewing needle with a handle where the needle-point normally is.
    4. (optional) Ruber cement.
    *All of the above mentioned stuff will be in your basic $4 plug-kit.
    5. A way to "air-up" your tire. I carry a small 150psi SLIME aircompressor that plugs into a cig outlet. You can use any pump, a full sized bike pump if you need the exercise... Fix-A-Flat can be used too but then your tire will be full of that crap and from what I hear it is a pain for the tire guys when you go to get new ones. SLIME makes small (slow) compressors that run about $20 but lots of companies make 'em just grab whichever you like.
    6. Razor blade, sharp knife, etc. for cutting the plug later on.

    When to use plugs:
    I've had about 30 flat tires over the years on work and personal trucks, from my experience 95% of those could be repaired using plugs. Typically nails are the culpret but sometimes the right side of a sharp rock at high speeds can do it too, and sometimes it's a mystery as to what caused it.
    1. Plugs should only be used to repair holes in the tread portion of your tire, never to fix a hole in the sidewall, infact any tire with a punctured sidewall is trash, replace it immediately (you can plug the sidewall in a pinch but due to the extra flex in a sidewall it will cause the plug to work it way out and/or leak air in the mean time, this is only to be used in dire situations and absolutely should not be driven on the highway and only at low speeds in the dirt).
    2. Identify the hole. If there is a nail in there and it is not leaking air, just leave it in until it is more convinient to fix. Hopefully you find the hole before the tire is actually flat and it will be easy to find by the hissing of air coming out of it.
    3. Is it pluggable? I'm not sure of the current standard but if the gash is more than an inch you should put on your spare (unless it's your only option to plug). If it is an inch long, you can plop 3-4+ plugs in there as a temp fix to hold air and get you on to a better location. I've seen people run plugged tires on the highway with 3-4 plugs in a single hole for weeks without problems but it just isn't a safe idea, only do this as a temp fix.
    4. If my damged tire only reqires 1 plug to fix, I plug it and consider it good for the life of the tire and forget about it. If you need to put 2 or more plugs in the same hole you should treat it like "walking on thin ice" by driving slower, checking the repair often (every couple of miles), and have it professionally patched or replaced asap.

    How to plug a tire:
    I'm not going to get detailed about this, it is super simple. You can probably find a visual on YouTube. The whole process only takes about 3min plus however slow or fast you air pump is.

    1. find the hole
    2. Clean it, use the "reaming tool" just once, twist it on the way in (all the way in), tiwst it around a little, and pull it out.
    3. Thread 1/2 the plug through the threading-tool just like you would a needle.
    4. Press the threading tool with the plug into the tire (if you want to use rubber cement use it now bu putting a small glob over the hole to be repaired), 2/3 of the plug in, twist clockwise until the top of the plug shows movement then pull the threading tool straight out.
    5. You tire is now plugged. Use the razor blade, knife, whatever, to cut the portion of the plug still sticking out flush with the tire. (if you don't cut the excess plug off you run the risk of it getting pulled out, the money side of the plug is what is in you tire anyway.
    6. Air-up to the desired psi and continue on your way.

    Good luck. Hope this save you a couple of bucks or from an unplanned long walk.

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