It looks expensive, but can you repair a tire with a big nail in it?
These are questions often asked by people who see a big nail in their tire. In this article, we will briefly explain when a tire can be repaired and the options you have available to you if the nail puncture hole is safe to repair.
Do You Have To Replace A Tire With A Big Nail In It?
The first thing to do is know how big the nail is. Depending on the size of the hole in your tire dictates what action you need to take.
A hole bigger than 6mm or ¼ inch across means you need a new tire.
A dime is 18 mm in diameter, so put this near the nail and see if it is more than a third of this size. If so, the hole is too big, and you will need a new tire.
Let’s assume that the hole is not bigger than 6 mm, and you have options.
Important: If a nail is stuck in the tire’s shoulder or sidewall, it can’t be repaired, whatever the size of the nail.
Only the center section of the tread can be repaired. The shoulder and the sidewall do not have cords or steel belts to maintain their structure and a repair here is dangerous.
How To Fix A Big Nail In Your Tire
You have two options
Plug the Tire
The cheapest but perhaps the least effective way to repair a puncture is with a tire plug. If, as discussed, the hole is in your tire’s center tread section, there are repair kits that temporarily seal the hole.
I say temporary, but many people plug their tires themselves at home and leave the plug in there without getting a professional repair at a tire shop.
Although tire manufacturers don’t recommend this, sometimes the seal will hold for many thousands of miles.
This option is the preferred choice for many people who don’t have any mechanical skills or tools available to them.
In this fix, the tires are plugged on the outside; therefore, the tire doesn’t need to be removed from the rim to plug it.
It may not be the safest option, however.
Patch the Tire
The preferred option and the only one that a tire shop will do is to patch the tire. It’s better because the tire has to be removed from the rim so the technician can inspect the inside for further damage.
After cleaning and reaming the hole and ensuring the surface where the patch is installed is thoroughly cleaned, a tire shop will use an all-in-one plug patch.
Many shops will also guarantee their work and only charge 15 to $20 to do this repair for you.
Is It Safe To Drive With A Big Nail In Your Tire?
A big nail should be removed as soon as possible but make sure you do this in a place where you have a tire repair kit to hand.
There is no point removing a nail that is at least holding back a tire puncture from going completely flat in an area where you don’t have access to a compressor and a tire kit or at a tire shop.
A nail in the section of a tire doesn’t normally cause a blowout, but you shouldn’t be happy to drive around with a nail in your tire long-term. The hole could become bigger and allow more air to escape, so your leak worsens over the coming days and weeks.
Is It Okay To Leave A Nail In A Tire If It Isn’t Leaking?
No, it’s not okay to drive long term with a nail big in your tire, even if it’s not leaking. The nail will likely work its way further into the rubber and eventually cause a leak.
Steel belts in the tread section of your tire will be affected by salt, water, and other chemicals on the road, causing them to corrode.
This will affect the structural integrity of the tread and mean that at some stage, the tire will leak a lot worse, and the hole will be bigger and become irreparable.
You would need a new tire when you could have repaired it if you had acted sooner.
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Sometimes a new tire is the better option if your tire is old or has been damaged before.
We recommend Priority Tire. They often have clearance sales that result in the cost of a new tire being little more than the cost of repairing the damaged one.
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A large nail hole bigger than 6mm cannot be repaired. Anything less than 6 mm can be repaired as long as the hole is in the tread section of the tire and not the shoulder or the sidewall.
You have two options to repair the hole.
The first is to plug it from the outside, which you can buy kits to do at home yourself.
The second is to go to a tire shop and ask them to patch and plug the tire for you. You can do this at home if you can remove the tire from the rim. However, most people don’t.
You can drive with a nail in your tire for short distances but be aware eventually, it will leak, and the hole will let in rain and salt, which will eventually corrode the steel belts in your tire.
This may result in you having to replace the tire rather than having the opportunity to repair it now.