If you have ever driven on a plugged tire, you know that it is not a pleasant experience. The ride is rough, the noise is loud, and it is generally unsafe. How long can you expect a plugged tire to last before it needs to be replaced? The answer is that it depends on the tread depth, size of the hole, tire type, and driving habits, among other factors. Let’s discuss these factors in more detail below.
What Are the Signs of Plugged Tires, and How Can You Resolve Them?
A plugged tire occurs when a small object, such as a nail or piece of metal, punctures the rubber casing of your tire. This causes air to escape and may eventually lead to a flat tire. Knowing the warning signs of a plugged tire while driving is essential.
If your car starts to pull to one side without turning the steering wheel, it may indicate that your tire has become plugged. Other warning signs include:
- Abnormal vibrations or noises are coming from one of your tires.
- Irregular wear on one of your tires.
- A decrease in the tire’s air pressure.
Several options are available to resolve a plugged tire, such as repairing the affected portion or replacing the whole tire altogether. However, one of the best ways to quickly return your vehicle to the road again is by plugging it in. This involves puncturing a small hole in the tire to fill it with a repair compound that hardens and stops any air pressure leakage.
How Long Will a Plugged Tire Last Before It Needs to Be Replaced?
Depending on your driving needs, you can expect a plugged tire to last between 7 and 10 years. Still, replacing the tire within this period is advisable if the mileage has exceeded 25,000 miles. However, many factors affect the lifespan of a plugged tire, including the environment, driving style, tire quality and age, and the severity of puncture. If you have a small plug in your tire, it may last for a while. But if the hole is big or the plug is not installed correctly, it could fail quickly. If the latter is the case, you should replace your tire immediately. But a plugged tire may buy you some time if you are in a pinch.
What Are the Dangers of Driving on a Plugged Tire?
Driving on a plugged tire is rarely a safe idea. While many drivers might think this is an acceptable alternative to replacing the tire, doing so can have serious repercussions. Below are some of the risks associated with driving on a plugged tire:
- Driving with a plugged tire can cause the puncture in your tire tread to become a full-blown blowout, leading to reduced control and mobility of your car, which can significantly increase the chance of an accident.
- Plugging a tire does not release all the air pressure, leaving you with a weakened tire structure. This increases the likelihood of sidewall failure and causes uneven tread wear that can lead to an increased risk of hydroplaning in wet weather.
- The chemicals used when plugging the tire are flammable. They can ignite if exposed to high temperatures for extended periods, raising your chance of catching up in a car fire.
How to Prevent Tire Plugs: Tips for Regular Maintenance
Regular maintenance is vital to keeping your tires in good condition and avoiding plugged tires. Here are some tips to help you prevent tire plugs:
Check Tire Pressure Regularly
One of the best ways to prevent tire plugs is to keep your tires properly inflated. Regularly checking your tire pressure can help you detect changes in inflation levels before they cause catastrophic failures. Maintaining proper tire pressure saves you from costly repairs, improves handling, and creates a smoother ride. Check your tire pressure once a month or whenever you fill up on gas to ensure everything works properly.
Avoid Roads and Surfaces with Sharp Objects
To protect your tires from sidewall punctures caused by sharp objects, avoid roads and surfaces that may contain such hazards. This means preventing unpaved surfaces like gravel or dirt roads, construction sites, or properties with things that can cause flat tires. If you can’t avoid these obstacles, drive slowly and inspect your tires after passing through them.
Look for Damage or Deterioration
Routine inspections of your tires can help prevent disaster before it happens. Pay attention to any signs of damage or deterioration, such as spots, bulges, and balding. Also, check the tread depth and sidewalls for cracks, tears, and excessive wear. If you drive off-road, inspect the treads for stones that may have become wedged in them and could cause problems later on.
What to Do When Your Tire is Plugged
If your tire is plugged, taking a few minutes to inspect and repair any issues can save you from bigger problems down the road. Here are some suggestions:
Check Tire Pressure Immediately
The first step is to determine the tire pressure. If it’s significantly low, use a tire gauge to check the air pressure in each tire. This will help you determine whether your tire needs air or if it needs to be replaced.
Seek Professional Help
If one of your tires is starting to plug up, seek professional assistance immediately to prevent a serious accident. If it’s safe, drive carefully and slowly to a nearby tire or auto shop, as they can inspect the tire and assess what needs to be done next.
Replace the Tire, if Needed
If your tire requires more air than your compressor can provide, or if there is physical damage, you may need to replace the tire as soon as possible. Purchasing a new tire and installing it at a professional automotive shop is the safest way to restore your car’s driving capabilities.
Regular maintenance and checking your tires are essential to avoid issues such as plugged tires. The lifespan of a plugged tire depends on the severity of the leak, but it’s generally not safe to drive for more than a few miles on a plugged tire. Remember that a plugged tire is a temporary fix, so replace it with a new one as soon as possible.