How to Plug a Tire Without a Plug Kit

Tire leakages are a collective experience for drivers. The thing is you can never tell when or where you will pick up a tire leakage. Your tire can pick up a sharp object that can pierce and have it punctured in a way that creates a slow leakage. It can happen anywhere, maybe while on your way to a crucial business meeting, or while hurrying to get some essential items over at the store downtown.

Before we get on with the business of the day, let’s look at why it is useful to know how to plug your tire quickly in critical situations.

A friend of mine picked up a slow leakage while trying to park his vehicle at the hotel. It was a long trip, and he had to spend the night and then continue the journey the following day. Unfortunately, he had forgotten to carry his tire plug kit along, and there was no spare in the trunk. Meanwhile, the hotel was a reasonable distance away from town, on a lonely road, almost in the middle of nowhere.

In the face of critical situations like what my friend experienced, you need to apply some quick-plug techniques to save you from trouble. Knowledge on how to plug a tire without a plug kit can come in very handy in the most crucial situations. And, if you practice well, you can get it all done in less than a few minutes.

Why is it Important to Know How to Plug Your Tire without a Plug Kit?


Every driver must think safety first before anything else. You must be proactive in knowing precisely what to do in the most critical situations. Circumstances like these are usually not planned for, but they happen to even the best of us, and without any prior notice.

So, if you're thinking of safety, then it makes sense to gather as much extra info as you can to save up for the rainy day.

Remember, “safety first.”

Prevent Slow Leakages

Slow leakages can quickly result in a flat tire if the issue is not addressed, whether or not you have your plug kit with you. Slow leaks are hazardous; they can cause your vehicle to be unstable on the road. This problem can lead to a road accident.

Prevent Slow Leakages

If you're driving around with uneven wheels, your vehicle has higher chances of tipping over every time you negotiate a near sharp corner. The faulty tire in your car can cause unequal weight distribution that can make the vehicle tip over easily.

Save Fuel

Your car’s engine is forced to use up more fuel when there is a faulty or slow leaking tire. Also, if you should carry some extra weight in your trunk coupled with your leaking tire, you've declared a lavish fuel party for your engine.

Why is that? It is because the irregular or faulty tires will require more energy (which interprets into fuel) to rotate appropriately compared to the good ones without fault. Meanwhile, the rate of energy consumption by your tires is only as good as your least right tire.

There are several more reasons why this is such a valuable knowledge to have, but these three are crucial.

When Should You Plug A Car Tire?

Ultimately, you shouldn’t bank on plugging old tires, change them. However, if your car tire picks up a leak, and it’s still new, or has only done less than fifty-thousand miles, then you can consider plugging.

Also, you must avoid plugging your car’s tire if it has picked up a leak with a hole that has its diameter longer than a quarter inch.

Additionally, if your tire already has plugs, you should seriously consider changing them.

Should You Rather Plug or Patch A Car Tire?

The fact is, plugging or patching car tires only offers temporary assistance. If you handle it right, it should be able to carry you until you can get a new replacement.

Plugging tires still leaves other problems that affect the inner walls of your tires unaddressed or not adequately attended to. The inner walls of your tire that suffer friction from the rims and tire walls will be left with higher the rates of wearing and tearing unattended.

Should You Rather Plug or Patch A Car Tire

Also, you are not advised to plug a hole on your tire if you find the puncture around the tire’s sidewalls. The unvarying rotation of your tires while driving will cause expansions that will eventually force out your plug. If this happens while speeding, your vehicle can easily tip over. Also, if you do not check this correctly, it can develop into splits.

Additionally, you are not advised to plug bald tires because they might become much thinner from constant wearing and tearing. Instead, you should only plug thicker tires since they can uphold the plug more firmly.

How Long Can You Go with A Plugged Car Tire?

I don’t know whether this question should have been “how short should you drive on a plugged tire.” Lol. Anyhow, the answer is as short a time as possible. Bear in mind that the essence of plugging your tire in the first place was to offer temporary assistance. As soon as you reach the next tire shop, you must ensure that you have your tire replaced.

A good plugging job should be able to carry you for up to two-thousand miles (say that’s how far you are from the next tire store). However, this largely depends on how old and how in shape your tire is in the first place. A brand new car tire can cover up to three-thousand miles seamlessly.

How to Plug a Tire without a Tire Plug Kit

How to Plug a Tire without a Tire Plug Kit

Below is a lineup of useful tools for the task ahead.
  • An old tire
  • A pair of working gloves
  • A couple of sharp, heavy-duty scissors
  • A reliable pair of pliers
  • A set of screwdrivers
  • An air compressor, and,
  • Gorilla Glue

2. Locate and Remove The Piercing Object

The second step is to find the sharp object that punctured your tire. Now, put on your working gloves and begin to run your hands around the tire to feel for any sharp objects like screws or nails sticking out from your tire.

When trying to locate the sharp object, you must ensure that you do it in a well-lit location. If the pointed object has snapped, it can be more challenging to find. You may need a bright torchlight for illumination if you're doing this at night.

Run your fingers around and across the tire threads, especially if your tires are new as the sharp object can easily hide between them.

When you have found the sharp object, use your pair of clippers to pull out the sharp object from your tire gently. If you notice that the puncture has gone deep into the tire, you can use your flathead screwdriver to pry out the sharp object gently.

3. Improvise a Make-do Tire Plug

Take an old tire and cut small strips from it using your pair of heavy-duty scissors. Make sure that the strips are not too big. They should be small enough to fit into the puncture in the tire. However, their thickness should be such that they can stay in place during motion.

Also, when cutting the strips, ensure that you take the piece out from a portion of the old tire that is still smooth. Let the part of the strip you cut be free of exposed wires, patches, bumps, etc. or anything of that nature.

When you have gotten your piece of strip ready, apply a little Gorilla Glue on both sides. Afterward, insert it firmly inside the tire until the strip becomes flush with the surface of the tire. The Gorilla Glue will help to make sure that the strip fits and sticks firmly inside to seal off the puncture. You can clean off any excess glue on your tools.

After that, you can fill up the tire with air and ensure that it is replaced appropriately on the vehicle. It takes only a couple few seconds for the gorilla glue to dry. So, by now, your tire would have been long set to hit the road again.

That’s it; you're all set and rolling!

Here are some simple quick-fire steps to help you get your car back on the road if you get jammed without a plug kit.

1. The Tools

Watch How to Plug a Tire

How to Plug a Tire Without a Plug Kit FAQs

Can I go for up to 5 miles after plugging my tire?

Yes, after plugging your tire, you can go for up to 200 miles if you don’t find a replacement soon enough.

How long can a plugged tire carry me?

A plugged tire can carry you for up to 200 miles. However, you are advised to replace your tire with a new one at the closest tire replacement store.

Will the police allow me to drive around with a plugged tire?

Not really. It is not entirely safe to drive around in a plugged tire. The idea of plugging is to offer you temporary assistance. Police will want to know when you are replacing the tire. You should replace it quickly to avoid getting in trouble.

Can I plug an old tire?

No, it is not advisable to plug old tires. If your tire is still new and unfortunately got punctured, or has done less than 50,000 miles, you can consider plugging it.

Can I use a plugged tire as spare?

No, you are not advised to use a plugged tire as spare.

Final words and recommendations

Every driver must think of safety first. You never know when you will require plugging your tire even though you are not prepared. You may have forgotten to drive along with your plug kit and unknowingly picked up a sharp object on the road.

Knowledge of how to get by without a plug kit as what we have shared in this post can come in handy. Safety is not only about having all the tools you need but also knowing what to do when you're out of them. Good luck.

David V. Williamson

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