So today was that epic event of walking out into the parking lot at high noon, sun blazing, and finding out you have a completely flat tire. Skipping over the usual details about changing out a tire with insufficient equipment on scorching hot pavement, I changed out the tire for the spare and dropped the flat tire off at a tire shop for repair.

When I got my vehicle home and was putting away the spare, I noticed that the nail was still in the tire itself. The nail appeared to be a roofing nail based upon the size of the head. There also appeared to be some sort of sealant surrounding the nail.

My question is if it's normal to leave the nail in the tire or not. With previous leaks, other repair shops have removed the nail or screw. I haven't been to this tire shop before so I don't know if what they did was standard practice or not.

  • 10
    Can't believe a professional tyre shop would do this. Remove the nail yourself in future before dropping off. Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 2:00
  • 9
    Nail is solid. Tire rubber bends. When rubber bends, nail creates bigger hole (very slowly). Eventually will leak faster, or dislodge. Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 2:18
  • 6
    Take it back and demand that they do it properly. Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 9:01
  • 9
    A picture of the repair "nail" would be helpful. Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 15:10
  • 6
    Are you sure it was a nail still there? Some plug patches look like a nail. Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 18:02

6 Answers 6


Nope, not normal

You do not leave a foreign object in a tire under any circumstances. The object can dislodge itself during higher speeds and lead to deflation creating a very high risk event.

If they plugged the tire there will be a rubber plug with vulcanizing glue but not a nail or other related object.

Validate that it's not a rubber plug, if it's not, go back to the shop. This is not normal in my experience and IMO very dangerous.

  • 12
    I had a chance to reexamine the repair today. You were correct in that they used a rubber plug. When I looked at it yesterday, the lighting wasn't optimal and I was more than a bit tired so I wasn't seeing things as well as I could have. And while they hadn't cut the plug fully flush with the tire, that part was ground down a bit after driving around today.
    – user2776
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 0:51

No, that is not normal. It needs to be removed and the hole should be patched from the inside. Sealants or plugs are not usually a recommended fix.


Is it possible that you got the flat tire by driving over several nails? There may have been multiple nails in the tire and the repair shop only removed/repaired one. The fact that they may have missed one is in itself inexcusable but this could explain the situation.

Many shops repair a nail by not demounting the tire from the rim/wheel. They simply remove the nail and then use a special tool to buff the hole and than another tool to insert a rubber plug. When this process is done it would be easy to think that there was a single nail that caused the flat tire.


Definitely not normal.

Absolutely agree with DucatiKiller

The only time it is best to leave a nail in is BEFORE the tyre has gone flat and you intend to drive somewhere, immediately, to get it repaired.

If the tyre still holds air, it might just get you there. Pull it out and it will not.

Please come back and tell us all that it is a plug that you can see. If not, that company really, really, should not be trading.


It is a good idea to leave the nail in the tire when you take it for repair as it shows the shop where the damage is, or at least some of it, and what caused it. This helps get a faster and more certain repair on the tire. However, during the repair they should remove the nail - they should never, ever leave the nail in after they have fixed the tire!

If there is still a nail in the tire either they didn't remove the nail during the fix, or they didn't notice another nail in the tire. Either way they didn't do the job right and you should get your money back.


Tires are one of those things that you don't repair. If it's damaged/compromised, just buy a new one. Tires are cheaper than back in the past, and speeds higher.

  • 2
    I disagree. I've had nail holes plugged in a relatively new tire that lasted another 40k miles until the entire set needed to be replaced. Small puncture damage like this is only beyond repair if it's toward the side of the tread or on the sidewall. Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 17:58
  • @MooseLucifer: I am aware that tires have a "puncture repair area." However, why would you compromise your safety? Even if it's a 1 in 100 risk, I wouldn't feel well with a repaired tire. Specially, because not all repairs are professionally done (Oas in the case of the OP). Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 18:05
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    That is a fair point, but given the amount of regulations and requirements placed on tire manufactures and installers, I would guess the risk is several magnitudes smaller than "1 in 100". The fact that the NHTSA and other governing bodies even allow repaired tires back on the road is evidence enough for me that they are safe. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, mine being that your advice impractical, unnecessary, and potentially damaging to the life of the vehicle. Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 18:49

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