Bail the Nail or Bite the Bullet?

Those DIY radial (car) tyre repair kits you get here work? How dangerous are they? I’ve acquired nails in a couple of pretty new tyres.

I’m talking about kits with a T-handled rasp, T-handled big needle, fat rubber plug thingy and a tube of cement. There are also ones with a ribbed/knobbly rubber (Ooer Mrs) and no cement.

These things used to be used in the UK (a mint Triumph Herald owners manual I acquired in the vague hope of someday getting a car to go with it detailed their use) but I’ve never used one and doubt they are still available in the First World.

Be interested in any opinions, especially informed opinions, on this.

FWIW I’d move plugged tyres to the rear, and I drive pretty sedately apart from freewheeling down mountains (rarely since I’m in Tainan)

These are still in use in the USA. And work very well
I’ve had tires plugged as recently as 3 years ago and as far back as 20 years and never had a problem with the results or a worry. I speaking of auto tires.

I’ve also had both of my 'scooter tires plugged here and have no problems so far.
Works well.

I had my motorcycle tire plugged once. It was fine until I replaced it 3 weeks later.

I’ve used them at least 6 times over the last few years on sports cars, and 4-wheel drives. Never had a problem.

Thats encouraging, though as far as I can tell from internet searching it seems a bit controversial.

Tyre industry sources, and the (US) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, I suppose predictably, say a tyre should only be repaired by qualified personnel using industry-approved equipment and requires both a plug and a vulcanised patch on the inside. For example:- … epair.html

They also disapprove of inner tubes, which I’ve used without problems when I couldnt get a rim seal with a tubeless radial.

Continental Tire Product Service Information Bulletin PSIB 05 – 01 [ ] goes a bit further and states:-

“This assessment should also take into account the complete service life history of the tire including inflation, load, operating conditions, etc…”

Since this information can almost NEVER be available, this implies that a tyre should almost NEVER be repaired, even by pros. This seems to pretty much describe the situation now in the UK where they are much, much more comfortable selling you a new one, and charging you to dispose of the old one.

All I could find on the other side of the argument (apart from some US eBay ads for repair kits apparently similar to those you can buy here) was a discussion on “Patch versus Plug” on

I dunno how authorative this is, but it doesn’t have any obvious vested interest. It considers patches and plugs as alternatives, and says plugs worked well with cross-ply tyres, made a lump in early radials causing a switch to (cold or hot) patches, and then improved “self vulcanising” plugs were introduced which are now the method of choice because they don’t require tyre removal. I imagine/hope that the Taiwan repair kits use these. I havn’t seen any for internal patching.

So I dunno, but I’m inclined to get one and try it, IF its got instructions with it that I can understand. What have I got to live for, anyway? I will put it on the back wheel though.

BTW theres a (UK?) company called Autoseal that sell a fibre-bearing liquid thats supposed to slosh around inside the tyre keeping it cool, and seal any holes as they occur. Interesting idea, but I’ve never used it.

When I remember right, in Germany they only repair tyres not approved for going over 160 km/h. Bike Tyres are not allowed to repair at all.

Kind of makes sense to me, since a rapidly exhausting bike tyre causes is no fun. And if you go 200 km/h and faster, you don’t mess with your tyres…

Plugs work fine but IME the DIY kits aren’t as good as the stuff the tire shops use. When there are tire shops everywhere and they only charge NT$100 per plug, why bother with DIY?
Sure, some of the shops here are going to a bit cavalier about which tires they repair. Use your own judgement. If there’s more damage than a perfect little round puncture hole, or the hole is on the edge of the tread block, or the sidewall, then junk it. Most of the problems are caused by ignoring swelling (air getting between the plies in the carcass) or the tire having been run flat to the point the belting gets damaged. Then you have a tire that looks fine (from the outside), holds air and supports load… but has little structural strength. You drive more than a km or two on a flat tire, or even a few hundred meters at high speed and it’s toast. If you dismount the tire you will see a dark colored band about 2/3 the way up the sidewall.

  1. Way more profitable
  2. Customers often lie about driving on flats
  3. No offense to the lawyers here, but… :wink:

Two arguments against the sealant liquid solution:

You could have some pretty serious structural damage to the tire and since the liquid seals the air leak, not know about it.
The liquid sloshing around in there makes it impossible to accurately balance the tire.


  1. Way more profitable
  2. Customers often lie about driving on flats
  3. No offense to the lawyers here, but… :wink:


Thanks for that. Makes sense, though its slightly surprising that tyre (sorry, “tire” in this context) repair seems to be more acceptable in the famously litigious US, where I’ve heard, for example, that liability costs pretty much killed the private light aircraft industry.

I’d guess the reasons are that (a) US consumers are more ripoff-resistant than Brits (b) Fixing cars is more embedded in US “culture”. Its probably only a slight exaggeration to say that DIY car repair will die out with my generation in the UK. Girl I know calls us OA’s (Oily Anachronisms). :frowning:

Last time I had a hole in the UK (getting on towards 10 years ago) they told me that it could only be repaired if it was not within 2 inches of the edge of the tyre/tire. From memory I got 1 tyre/tire repaired and replaced 1. I had run over some nails in my driveway…I still don’t know why they were there but we are divorced now. :laughing: