When it comes to repairing a tire, you have three main options: tire plugs, tire patches, and sealant.
Each of these repairs has its own short term and long term costs which we will go into in detail below, so it is important to understand which is best for you.
Cost of a Tire Plug
A tire plug is the simplest and least expensive way to repair a puncture in a tire. It involves removing the object that caused the puncture and inserting a plug into the hole. The cost of a tire plug kit is usually less than $10, and the repair only takes a few minutes.
A plug repair isn’t something a tire shop will do for you, as it is considered a temporary repair. You’ll have to do it yourself or ask a friend to do it for you.
Although in the short term, this repair is the cheapest, the repair should be upgraded to a patch repair.
The problem is that patching involves removing the tire from the wheel and repairing the inside of the tire. A plug does not, and that is why many people like them.
So although you may only pay $10 to plug the tire yourself, you should either patch it yourself as soon as you can or get a tire shop to do it for you if you don’t want to remove it yourself.
Here can lie a problem. Some tire shops won’t repair a tire that someone else has already plugged. They can get very sensitive over this.
A DIY plug repair may have caused unseen damage to the steel belts underneath the tread, or a drill rather than a reamer was used to widen the hole for the plug.
For tire shops, there is very little to be gained by patching an already plugged tire. There isn’t much money to be made, and the risk of inadvertently covering up a previous bad repair is not worth the potential lawsuits or bad publicity.
You’ll have three options at this point. Either, leave the plug in situ, even though the repair is only temporary – not recommended and could be dangerous.
Patch the tire yourself. A decent plug kit can cost $30 – $50, and you take the wheel off the tire to patch it.
Thirdly buy a new tire.
Cost of a Tire Patch
A tire patch is more permanent than a tire plug and is the only repair a tire shop will do. Expect to pay no more than $40, including parts and labor.
The tire shop will take the tire off the rim, inspect that the damage is repairable, and then patch the tire on the inside.
They will often use a combination plug and patch, so not only is the hole sealed inside the injury site also plugged. This offers double protection and is the only repair recommended by tire manufacturers.
If you want to patch the tire yourself and already have a lug wrench, jack, and tire bar – if not, each will cost roughly $10 – you’ll still need a reamer, a patch stitch roller, a buffer sealant, and a cleaner.
These items can add up to an additional $50. The patches are cheap but usually sold in packs of 10+ and not individually.
Cost of Sealant
Slime and Fix A Flat (other brands are available!) seal a tire by injecting a chemical compound into the tire through the valve at the same time as air.
The cheaper sealant kits are $12-$15, but you’ll need a compressor to get the sealant inside the valve. If you don’t have one, kits that include one cost around $50.
Sealant is the easiest and quickest way of repairing a tire, but as with a plug, it is only a temporary fix.
Most tire sealant brands will make it clear in their literature that their product should not be considered a permanent fix.
Their general consensus is that the tire will be good for 100 miles and at a lower speed before a proper repair should be done.
You might find tire shops are happier to fix a tire with a sealant used than where someone has already plugged a tire, as the injury site itself hasn’t been physically altered.
Some don’t want the hassle of cleaning out the sealant from the tire, rim, and valve before patching it and will refuse the job. Others will add on a few bucks for the additional time.
The long term cost of a sealant tire repair is the cost of the kit plus the cost of a tire patch as well. In total, expect to pay around $80-$100.
Often if the tire is getting old with less than half its tread left, it makes economic sense to buy a new tire than repair a damaged one.
Advice On Which Tire Repair To Use
A patch repair is always the best solution if you don’t have to be anywhere quick. It is more permanent and approved -when done properly – by tire manufacturers.
You can choose between sealant and plugging if you need to get back on the road quickly. Plugging is cheaper but involves a little physical strength. It can be dirty, too, working around the tire.
Sealant costs more than plugging but is easier and quicker than plugging.
With sealant and plugging, you should get your tire patched or replaced as soon as possible.
More in-depth and thorough articles relating the this one:
Carzaza.com is an Amazon Associate. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
We like this mushroom tire plug kit at Amazon. Even if you don’t need to repair a flat today, they are a must-have glove compartment accessory to stop you from ever being stranded with a flat in the future.
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.
Some links on Carzaza.com are affiliate links from which I receive a small commission from sales at no additional cost to you.
Who Repairs Tires Cheaply?
A few years ago, the only option was a tire shop, but now large chains are offering this service too. Here is a small selection of what they charge with links to their sites.
Walmart charges from $15 for a tire repair.
Costco : Offer a Free Lifetime Repair if they originally fitted the tire.
Discount Tires Offer a FREE tire repair service subject to their terms and conditions