How to Repair a Punctured Tire

by Editorial Team
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Photos courtesy of

Imagine, you're driving along and suddenly you notice a click-click-click-clicking coming from one of your tires, or you walk out to your car and catch a glimpse of something shiny within in one of your tire treads. That's right - you have a nail (or screw or piece of scrap metal) stuck in your tire. But don't let it bother you too much; it's not the worst thing that could have happened to your tire. For example, if you gashed open the sidewall, the tire would be history. I actually did this once, hitting a curb as I was turning a corner inside a parking garage. The tire completely deflated in less than a minute and was ultimately not repairable. Luckily, I had my window open and could hear the air hissing out before I got to the street.

But, with something stuck in the treads, not only is it something that can be fixed, you can do it yourself with a tire repair kit that costs less than $10. You can pick up a tubeless tire repair kit like the one shown at any auto parts store.

Step 1

The first thing that you need to do is remove the tire. If you have the luxury of a full-size spare with matching rim, you can put that on your car and use the one that you will fix as the spare afterward.

Step 2

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Next, find the puncture and circle it with some chalk so that you won't lose it after you remove the nail.

Step 3

Deflate the tire completely for safety.

Step 4

Using a pair of pliers, pull (or twist if it is a screw) the nail out of the tire.

Step 5

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Using the rasp from the kit, clean the hole by running it in and out of the tire.

Step 6

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Thread the gummy rubber plug into the needle tool from the kit. It should be centered as in the picture.

Step 7

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Coat the plug with rubber cement. Be generous as this also serves as lubricant when getting it into the tire.

Step 8

Push the needle tool into the hole so that the plug is two-thirds of the way inserted (the ends of the plug need to protrude from the tire. This may not be as easy as it sounds, since the tire will cave in as you try to do this, so be prepared to push hard. You may want to use a rubber mallet to hammer the tool in, or have a friend hold the tire while you wear work gloves as you push.

Step 9

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Remove the needle tool by pulling it straight of the tire in one quick motion. The plug should remain in the hole. It is okay for the remaining plug to stick out farther than the picture depicts. Just make certain that the needle tool inserts the plug at least two-thirds of the way into the tire, and there is an excess of the gummy plug protruding.

Step 10

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Trim the excess plug with a pair of end nippers or utility knife.

Step 11

Re-inflate the tire to the manufacturer's recommended pressure and check for leaks by pouring a mixture of water and dish soap over the hole. If there is any air leaking, you should see little bubbles coming from the hole.

If everything is good, mount the tire back on your car and you are done!

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