Found a small screw in my rear winter tire, like real small and thought it wouldn't leak, but it did, so I plugged it. It holds air correctly.

Two questions:

  • Some people freak about plugging/patching tires near the shoulder or outside the last "water" tread. Mine is close to that (about 1" from the sidewall), but also 1/2" from that last water tread. Am I OK? I had no trouble plugging it, and I think that if the small screw would have hit the shoulder, since it's the thickest part, it would haven't leak air.

  • Can I keep it like that or I absolutely need a patch at the shop? Tire was never flat even with the screw, so no internal tire damage.

Tires are Run flats with plenty of good treads (which is why I don't feel like just trashing it). Winter tires, no high speed stuff, daily driver.

Here's a picture:

enter image description here

  • Looks good to me; I would not be concerned as long as the tire holds pressure
    – Zaid
    Dec 25, 2015 at 19:47
  • 1
    UPDATE: The plug is going strong and survived Canadian winter :)
    – allaire
    Mar 13, 2016 at 3:30

2 Answers 2


It looks fine to me for the following reasons:

  • the size and shape of the hole can be fixed by a tire plug
  • you plugged it and it is holding pressure
  • the plug is in a flat portion of the tire profile, well away from the shoulder
  • if done properly, plugs can often outlast the useful life of the tire (so longevity isn't a concern)

You would consider applying a patch from the inside if the shape of the puncture is odd or unsuitable for a tire plug (more like a tear than a hole)

  • Some people say that inside patch if the permanent solution, but lots of people on the Internet say that they used plug for the lifetime of their tire so kind of puzzled here. I think I'll keep an eye on the PSI and leave it like that if it works.
    – allaire
    Dec 25, 2015 at 20:27
  • @allaire I wouldn't lose sleep over it. I've had plenty of tires plugged on several different cars. It's deceptively reliable
    – Zaid
    Dec 25, 2015 at 20:28
  • Also when installing the plug, it didn't come out that much (I didn't have to cut any excess, just like the picture is showing). No leak. I suppose I'm good?
    – allaire
    Dec 25, 2015 at 20:30
  • 1
    @Allaire - I've probably done in excess of a 100 plugs over the years. I've never had a problem with them losing air. As Zaid said, they are deceptively reliable. I've even used two plugs in a larger hole and had that work out just fine. The stupid little things just work and work well. They truly are fire and forget. Dec 26, 2015 at 1:19

The Tire Industry Association is the keeper of standards for tires. These are the methods and standards tire manufactures want us to use.

Holes inside the area shown are allowed to be patched, outside of this the tire is to be replaced.

Tire patch area

The state of the art for a hole is too install a plug patch from the inside of the tire.

Tire plug patch

Technicians will perform other repairs such as string plugs installed from the outside and patches installed on sidewalls, these types of repairs are not recommended by tire manufactures.

This page has a more thorough discussion of the tire repair standards. https://www.tireindustry.org/tire-maintenance/tire-repair

  • The first diagram is a bit extreme, this one is exactly my tire and it seems that I'm sitting a couple mm on the yellow side: hometyre.co.uk/assets/Puncture_image.jpg
    – allaire
    Dec 26, 2015 at 18:16
  • 1
    @allaire Standards do vary, I have to operate on the US standards so those are the ones I know. The UK has been a leader in tire standards, so I will not try to argue with them. The concern is that the inner patch should be able to remain flat and not have to bend into a compound curve which could cuase it to peel off. Dec 26, 2015 at 18:30
  • Thanks for the explanation! Do you think the inner patch will touch the curve based on where my plug is on the picture? I have no idea how big a pitch is inside the tire, but my screw is about 1" from the shoulder-to-sidewall area. If I have a plug+patch and the patch peel off, will it throws my balance off?
    – allaire
    Dec 26, 2015 at 20:19
  • @allaire It depends on wound path and tire construction. If the puncture is angled in toward the center and the inner corner radius is small it might just work. Since the tire has to come off the wheel to install this patch tire balancing is needed in any case and tires that have been worn will no longer be in balance. Dec 26, 2015 at 21:22
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    The type of plug you put in will work as long as the plug fills the entire wound path. The design is that the material self vulcanizes with the surrounding rubber. It should not matter if the ends hang out on the inside and they need to be cut off flush on the outside. Dec 27, 2015 at 22:03

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