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You are not the first person who has either plugged a tire and then wondered if they’re a  permanent solution or looking for a permanent solution and wants to know if it is worth plugging a tire will provide that.

Before even considering plugging a tire, it’s important to realize that only a small area of the tire can be plugged in the first place.

If the hole you are looking to repair is in the sidewall or in the shoulder section of the tire – which is the sloping area away from the main tread that leads down to the sidewall- it cannot be repaired here. 

The sidewall and shoulder do not have steel belts underneath the rubber to reinforce them. These areas rely solely on air pressure to maintain their rigidity and, if damaged, are unable to maintain their integrity and are unsafe. See below.

Radial Tire Showing Belts and Ply
Note the lack of belts in the sidewall and shoulder sections

So let’s assume that the damage is in the center portion of the tread and can be plugged. A well plugged tire in line with the plug kit manufacturer’s instructions can last, in theory, up to the tire’s lifetime and, therefore, could be viewed as a permanent fix.

The permanency of the repair relies a lot on the quality of the kit. Some plug repair kits cost no more than $10 and are very basic, and will only include poor-quality materials.  

The better quality mushroom plug sets can cost $40 but are more likely to hold the air better. 

Plugging a tire
A basic strip plug kit

Whether a tire plug can hold air for the tire’s lifetime is a side issue. Another, perhaps more pressing, question is whether plugging tires is safe and viewed as permanent by the tire plug kit manufacturers themselves.

Before plugging your tire, it is worthwhile reading the literature that comes with the kit or the information online before making the purchase.

These all make it clear that their tire plugs are only a temporary solution and should not be driven at speeds of more than 50 mph and for no more than 100 miles before they have a more effective patch repair or a new tire fitted.

Furthermore, no tire manufacturer will recommend a plug as a long-term repair and will likely invalidate any tire warranty received when the tire was purchased.

tire plug slow leaking
Tire plugs often leak

This may seem harsh on the surface, especially if the repair seems sound and holding air, but the main issue here is that the tire has not been removed from the wheel, and no inspection has been undertaken on the inside.

Often read next: Are Tire Patches Permanent? [ANSWERED]

The tire’s inner lining can often show additional damage that isn’t visible from the outside. 

I know online forums have people posting that say their tire plugs have lasted way past this 100 mile limit and, in fact, have outlasted the tread on the tire. 

I don’t dispute this to be the case. 

However, many others have repaired with a plug that didn’t hold air and found a tire shop wouldn’t patch it after their own failed attempt. The only option was a new tire.

Because all the tire manufacturers state that a plug is not a recognized and approved repair, you may fall foul of your insurance company if you were involved in an accident caused by your tire blowing out when you had repaired it with a plug.  

All automotive insurance policies will have a condition stating that for the policy to remain valid, your vehicle must be kept in a roadworthy condition; otherwise, there is a risk that it will not pay out in full in the event of a claim.

Are Any Types of Tire Plug Repair Kit Permanent?

If you believe that tire plugs are the way to go, then it’s good advice to buy the best possible kit you can. 

There are two main types on the market. The first has been around for years and goes by different names of string or strip plugs. 

As the name suggests, this is a piece of rubber string that gets pushed into the hole by a needle. This is a very basic yet quite often effective tire repair. 

More expensive mushroom plugs seal the inside of the tire and the injury site. It does this using a screw tool that pushes the mushroom head through the tire injury and at least partly seals the inside of the tire.  

Although not permanent, mushroom plugs offer an added repair on the inside without the need to remove the tire from the rim. 

Once again, because the inside of the tire has not been inspected, tire manufacturers do not recommend these repairs as a permanent fix. 

Often tire plugs will leak: Tire Plug Leaking Air – Help and Advice

In Conclusion

A tire plug is not a permanent repair and is not approved by tire makers and industry trade associations. 

Although it is possible for a plug to last the tire’s lifetime, a driver runs the risk of having unseen damage on the inner lining that would have been noticed if the tire had been patched instead.

Tire plug kits always warn that the plugs are only intended for use at speeds up to 50 mph and up to 100 miles.

Many people claim they have driven much further, but only you can decide whether you are prepared to take the risk.

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