There’s no way to stop a leaky tire plug from leaking once it has been fitted. We recommend pulling the plug out with pliers and replacing it with a new one.
One of the main reasons why a fitted tire plug can get a slow leak is because the hole in your tire hole was not properly reamed and cleaned out before installation.
When you install a plug into a tire with dirt or debris still in it, it can’t seal properly.
If it’s been installed for over a month and hasn’t caused any problems up until now, there is a chance that the plug isn’t leaking and you have a leak somewhere else.
How Do I Know If My Tire Plug Is Leaking?
A tire losing air pressure slowly within a month of plugging – a generalization, I know – is probably leaking from the recently fitted plug. I’m afraid it will keep on leaking and won’t get better by itself.
Spray soapy water around the plug and look for air bubbles escaping from around it. If you don’t see any bubbles, you can rule out the plug leaking as the problem.
Another reason could be that the hole in your tire was too large to begin with, and the plug did not seal properly.
Any hole bigger than 6 mm should not be plugged because the plugs weren’t designed to plug holes bigger than this. A hole bigger than 6 mm must be fixed by patching it or replacing your tire.
Can I Just Add Another Plug to the Hole?
Yes, a tire can be plugged again, but you need to remove the old plug first.
Don’t be tempted to try and add a second plug inside the first; that will never work.
Also, don’t push the plug through into the tire; although it is small and blunt, it may not cause any damage, but it isn’t the best practice.
Pull it out with a pair of pliers is the best option.
Will a Leaking Tire Plug Get Worse?
Not necessarily. It may stay stable and only leak the same amount of air as it is now. It is difficult to say for sure, as each tire plug leak differs.
If a tire shop did the tire plug, take it back to them and ask them to reinspect the plug. They may replug it for you or tell you that the hole has got bigger, the plug didn’t work, and that you need the tire to be patched instead.
Professional tire shops normally tell you when you have the first plug fitted that there is no guarantee that it will take and that a patch is the best option. Many tire shops will not just plug a hole and insist on a patch too.
If you’ve fitted the plug yourself, you can either leave it and hope the leak doesn’t get worse or replug it yourself. Ensure that you ream the hole thoroughly and ensure it is clean and free from dirt before plugging.
Sometimes people decide just to have a slow leak and live with it. Their thought pattern is it is easier to pump the tire every couple of weeks than go through the whole process again of plugging a tire only for it to still possibly leak afterward.
Will a Leaking Tire Plug Cause a Blowout?
It isn’t easy to say. Although it is unlikely. Most blowouts occur because of underinflation, where the tire sidewall collapses on itself as it’s unable to maintain the weight of the car.
A properly inflated tire with a plug should not cause a blowout, and you will only notice a gradual reduction in air pressure if it leaks.
How To Properly Fix A Tire Plug Leak
There is always a lot of debate about whether a tire plug can be a permanent fix or whether it is only a temporary one.
Visit any forum, and you will read stories of people plugging their tires and lasting thousands of miles.
It is human nature for people who haven’t succeeded in something not to talk too much about it. So it seems obvious many people have tried and failed to plug a slow leak in their car tires successfully.
If you want to replug a tire with a slow leak
- Pull out the old plug with pliers – do not push it into the tire
- Push in the reamer tool all the way through the rubber
- Twist the reamer tool five to ten times to ensure a good clean hole
- Clear away any rubber debris around the hole
- Force the plug vis the plugging tool into the hole. It should be very hard to push it into the hole.
- At this stage, if it feels too easy, you have likely underestimated the size of the hole. It needs to be 6mm or less.
- Pull back on the tool, and the plug should remain in the hole
- Cut the excess plug with a sharp knife.
- Inflate the tire to the correct psi.
- Squirt soapy water around the plug and check for bubbles
- No bubbles mean the plug is holding
- Bubbles mean you have a slow leak still, and plugging the tire hasn’t sealed the hole.
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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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If your tire plug has a slow leak, it is ok to remove it and try one more time to seal the hole with a plug.
It may have failed the first time because the hole is bigger than 6 mm; trying again will also not work.
However, it could also be that you didn’t clear away any excess rubber the reaming tool left behind, which meant the plug couldn’t seal the hole effectively.
In any case, it is always best to plug and patch your tire, as most tire manufacturers recommend this.