How to Repair a Vulcanized Tire

by Dale Yalanovsky

Every tire made today is a vulcanized tire. Charles Goodyear invented the process of vulcanizing rubber in 1843, and he received a patent for his work in 1844. Vulcanized rubber is strong, tough and waterproof, and it wears extremely well, which is why it is the perfect medium for nearly everything that needs to run on tires. Vulcanized tires are versatile enough that when it comes to repairs, there are two basic and accepted ways to get it done.

Patching a Vulcanized Tire

Remove the tire from the rim and expose the area that needs to be patched.

Use the sandpaper found in any patch kit to scrape and clean the area to be patched by sanding lightly. This also roughs up the area and will allow the patching cement to grip the rubber securely.

Cut a patch to size that overlaps the area to be patched, using your scissors. As a guide, allow approximately 1/2 inch overlap on all sides.

Cover the area to be patched with the included rubber cement or glue. Allow this cement at least five minutes of drying time before the patch is applied.

Place the patch over the area that has been glued and press it down firmly. Rub the patch outward from the center to the edges, then hold it in place with finger pressure for approximately 60 seconds.

Peel off any plastic backing on the patch when finished, and reinflate the tire.

Plugging a Vulcanized Tire

Pull out any object that has punctured the tire. A wire cutter works well for this, and you'll use it again when the plug job is completed. Find leaks by dabbing any suspected areas with soapy water. If you see bubbles, there is a leak.

Insert a plug onto the plug tool, one of which is included in every plug kit. The tool will look like a giant-size needle eye with a handle. You'll insert the plug into the eye. Once inserted, cover the plug with rubber cement and allow it to cure for about 5 minutes while you clean out the hole.

Clean out the hole to be plugged with an included hole-cleaning tool. Push it into the hole, spin it around several times, then pull it out. This will both enlarge the hole for easier plug insertion and rough the inside of the hole up, allowing better adhesion of the rubber glue.

Insert the plug into the hole with the plug insertion tool. Push the plug deep inside until about 1/4 inch remains exposed. Gently twist the tool, which will cause the release of the plug; then carefully pull the tool out and the plug will remain in place.

Snip the exposed plug down to flush with the tire treads, using a wire cutter tool. Then reinflate the tire.


  • check You can plug a tire with the tire still on the rim; patching always calls for the removal of the tire.
  • check You can also patch a tire manually by using rubber cement and a rubber patching compound that does not use a patch. Although difficult to use and requiring many additional steps, rubber patching compounds will do a good job provided all of the correct patching chemicals are used and the instructions to use them are followed exactly.


  • close Do not inhale the rubber glue or cement. Always repair vulcanized tires in an area with adequate ventilation.

Items you will need

About the Author

Dale Yalanovsky has been writing professionally since 1978. He has been published in "Woman's Day," "New Home Journal" and on many do-it-yourself websites. He specializes in do-it-yourself projects, household and auto maintenance and property management. Yalanovsky also writes a bimonthly column that provides home improvement advice.

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