Repairing a Nail-Punctured Tire

luxury car

James Bourke

Release Date

Tuesday, May 7, 2024


There are few things as inconvenient as getting a flat tire caused by a nail or other sharp object in the road. Whether you’re heading to work or kicking off a road trip, an unexpected flat tire can bring things to a screeching halt! However, with a little knowledge and the right approach, you can tackle that flat tire in no time. In this article, we discuss how to properly inspect the damaged tire, make temporary repairs, and get the situation entirely resolved. Keep in mind that, if a tire is defective, you may wish to consult with an experienced car accident attorney to determine whether negligence played a role in the damage. 

Why Do Punctured Tires Need to Be Addressed Right Away?

A punctured tire can become even more damaged if prompt repairs are not made. When you drive on a flat tire, you can cause damage to its internal structure, making it entirely unusable. Driving on a flat tire also reduces your ability to effectively control the car, which can make a collision more likely. For your own safety and the wellbeing of other motorists on the road, it’s vital to address flat tires as soon as possible. 

How to Inspect a Tire for Damage

To start with, you’re going to need to confirm that one or more of your vehicle’s tires were, in fact, punctured by a sharp item. In many cases, you’ll be able to see the nail or other object embedded in the tire’s tread. If you aren’t able to see anything out of place, carefully run your hands over the tire’s surface to feel for bulges or irregularities. Be careful, as you don’t want to inadvertently get stabbed by the object lodged in the tire. 

After locating the puncture, check the tire pressure. You may be able to drive a short distance on a slow leak, but a large puncture will cause the tire to go flat very quickly. Determining the size of the puncture and severity of the leak helps you determine an effective course of action. 

Temporary Solutions Repairs to Keep You on the Road

You have two options to choose between to keep your tire functional enough to stay on the road: tire sealant or a temporary patch or plug.

Tire sealant is a liquid product designed to fill small punctures and restore tire pressure. Using sealant can allow you to effectively fix a minor puncture, but it’s essential to keep in mind that this is a temporary fix. The sealant is not guaranteed to hold up over time and the tire will still need to be repaired by a professional. 

Using a temporary patch, plug, or combination of both repair options is a more reliable option for a short-term repair. You’ll insert a pre-made patch, plug, or combination of both into the puncture to effectively seal the hole and keep air from leaking out. Even with this repair method, it’s wise to have the tire repaired professionally by an experienced mechanic, as the temporary seal may not hold up for the tire’s entire lifespan.

Achieving a Permanent Tire Repair

Although the temporary repairs we discussed in the previous section should be sufficient for keeping you safe on the road for a limited time, you’ll want your damaged tire to be fixed as soon as possible. The tire repair process typically involves the following steps:

  • Tire Removal and Inspection: A mechanic will take the tire off the wheel rim. They will carry out a detailed inspection of the interior liner, looking for hidden damage caused by the initial puncture or effect of driving on a flat tire. 
  • Patching or Plugging the Tire: If the mechanic is satisfied that the tire is repairable, they can patch the tire from the inside using a vulcanized patch or install a plug specifically designed for permanent repair. Both of these methods create a strong and reliable seal that can keep the tire functional for its remaining lifespan. 
  • Rebalancing and Reinstallation: Once the repair work is done, the tire will be rebalanced to ensure even weight distribution. An unevenly balanced tire can affect vehicle handling and cause unpleasant vibrations when driving. Once the tire is rebalanced, it is reinstalled on the vehicle.

Strategies to Prevent Flat Tires

Taking some preventative measures can significantly reduce the risk of hitting a nail and suffering a subsequent tire puncture. You can consider the following:

  • Avoid Debris-Filled Roads: Whenever possible, avoid driving on roads littered with debris like nails, screws, or broken glass. If you must navigate risky streets, proceed with caution and try not to drive over anything sharp.
  • Maintain Proper Tire Inflation: Driving on underinflated tires increases the risk of punctures and sidewall damage. Check your vehicle’s tire pressure regularly and ensure all four tires are inflated to the level specified in your owner’s manual. 

Checking Your Repaired Tire

Before resuming normal driving, you should carry out a final safety check of the previously-damaged tire. Take a close look at the repaired area to ensure the patch or plug is secure and there are no signs of leaks. Check the tire pressure to make sure it is normal. Once you have verified that the tire is adequately repaired, you can hit the road with renewed confidence. 

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