Tire Patching 101: The Ultimate Helpful Guide

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Road hazards come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, there will always be small and sharp debris that will slip through and cause damage, especially to your tires. And that’s where a tire patch comes into the picture.

tire with a screw or nail in it
AppleZoomZoom / Shutterstock.com

Let’s face it, a puncture is inevitable in a tire’s lifespan and repair will be required. And car owners know that getting punctures is part of the experience of owning a car. 

However, not all car owners know how to properly deal with them. But don’t fret! This article will serve as your all-encompassing guide on proper tire inspection and patching.

What is a punctured tire? 

A punctured tire is a common type of car issue that usually involves a foreign object, usually sharp, piercing through the rubber and letting air escape, eventually causing a flat.

a tire puncture being patched
(boyphare / Shutterstock.com)

This can be a mild or a severe problem, depending on the punctured area. And if not properly attended to, could damage the whole tire, resulting in replacement and a lot of dangers while driving.

Identifying a puncture 

When your tires get punctured, You may not notice it instantly at first. So here are a few certain ways to find out if your tires have been punctured or not:

  • When you feel uncomfortable and excessive vibration while driving. 
  • When it becomes difficult to steer the car. It will require constant effort to keep the car running straight ahead.
  • When the car suddenly swerves left and right. 
  • When you hear unusual squeals coming from your tires. This is caused by a lot of factors, but at times, caused by a puncture.

Can you patch a tire with a nail in it?

This actually depends on the punctured area. If the object pierces through the center of the tread area, then it can be patched. But a puncture greater than ¼ of an inch or 6mm will require a tire replacement.

In many cases, bent nails are in the perfect position to pierce through anything that comes in close contact with them. And car tires are one of their top victims. 

However, there are also a few small and sharp objects you should look out for. These include:

  • Screw and bolts
  • Broken glass shards
  • Industrial staples
  • Sharp rocks
  • Metal sheets and steel components

A good driver should always be prepared for any road hazard like a puncture. And being able to identify one is always crucial before patching your tire.

Why is proper tire repair important?

Proper tire repair helps prolong the lifespan of car tires. This then leads to a number of advantages on your end as a car owner.

Here’s a few of them:

  1. It saves money and reduces cost. If tires are properly repaired and well-maintained, you can avoid frequent repairs and other car troubles. 
  2. It helps reduce waste. Tires do not decompose. Therefore, if you don’t have to buy new tires due to premature replacement, you help reduce waste tire disposal. 
  3. It helps keep you safe on the road. If tires are in poor condition, it can cause car performance and safety issues.
a mechanic removing a tire from the rim of the wheel
(Lucky Business / Shutterstock.com)

Improper repairs can lead to conditions that can put people’s safety in danger while on the road. Additionally, it can lead to constant loss of air pressure which then leads to premature tire replacement.

How to patch a tire

There are a few different methods to patch a punctured tire. Here are the most common types:

1. Patch

A tire patch is a repair method that works well for leaks and small punctures. But only if the damage is in the center of the tread area. 

It is highly recommended that a professional performs this repair. 

When patching, proper inspection to locate the puncture is a must. The tire should be removed carefully from the wheel and then the rim

The technician will then buff the surface of the puncture so the patch can attach itself to it. The patch will then be glued over the puncture, smoothen out and finished off with a patch sealer.

How long does it take to patch a tire? 

A proper tire patch takes about 20 to 30 minutes. This is because the tire has to be taken off the car and inspected properly.

Without taking the tire off the car, there is no way for the technician to properly inspect the inside of the tire. Remember, tire patches are only applied if the puncture is in the tread area only. 

How long does a patched tire last? 

A patched tire, if repaired by a professional, can last 7 to 10 years. This is why it is recommended to get your tire patched by a technician, since they have the knowledge, skills and tools to complete the job.

2. Plug

A tire plug is a quick yet temporary repair method where a sticky piece of string, coated with unvulcanized rubber, gets pushed into the punctured area of your tire so air cannot escape. 

Unlike a tire patch, you can do a tire plug on your own. And since it’s a quick repair method that’ll help get you off the road, having your own tire repair kit will come in handy. Here are a few options you can easily buy online:

First, you need to remove the object that punctured your tire using the kit. Second, you need to widen the hole slightly with the large puncture tool and place the string on the needle-like tool. Finally, you will press the plug through the hole and pull the tool so the plug gets left behind to seal the hole.

How long does it take to plug a tire? 

A tire plug takes only just a few minutes, not even more than 15 minutes. This is because it doesn’t require tire dismounting, unlike a tire patch.

How long does a plugged tire last? 

This method can only last up to 25,000 miles. It is not as reliable as a tire patch. But it is a good alternative if you need to drive off to find better repair.

3. Patch and plug combination

A tire patch-plug is a type of repair combining both the patch and plug methods. This involves using a small, round rubber patch with a plug in its center. 

This is the best among all three options as it creates a better, safer and long-lasting solution for punctures. This is why most professionals prefer this repair method. 

The tire patch-plug requires drilling through the puncture to widen it so that the small round patch’s plug can fit through. 

The technician will then buff the puncture from the inside of the tire and glue the patch in place. After that, the technician will pull the plug from the outside of the tire. Finally, once the plug is pulled all the way through, the technician will then cut the plug’s length to match the tire’s tread.

How long does it take to patch-plug a tire? 

A tire patch-plug is a time-consuming process. It will take around 30 minutes or more to finish the whole process. It’s because it’s a combination of both the patch and plug’s repair processes.

How long does a patch-plugged tire last? 

When done correctly by a technician, a patch-plug can last the whole lifetime of the tire with no issues. This is also the reason why technicians prefer this method over other repair methods.

Should your tire be patched, plugged or replaced?

Now that you are familiar with the most common repairs for punctures, it’s important to know next which one of these methods is best suited for your tires.

See below for the most important questions to ask when evaluating whether your tire needs a patch, plug or a replacement. 

Where is the puncture located? How big is it? 

If a puncture is in the center of the tread area and is no greater than ¼ of an inch (6mm), then you are in luck! Your tires can still either be patched or plugged.

a nail puncture in the middle of the tire's tread area
(gcpics / Shutterstock.com)

If the cut or puncture is greater than ¼ of an inch, and is located or extends through to the shoulder or sidewall area, then you will need tire replacement. Repairing anything of that size will reduce the tire’s durability. 

How close to the sidewall can a tire be patched? 

If a puncture is less than ½ inch from the steel belts on the shoulder or sidewall, then it is no longer repairable.

dangerous nail puncture on the sidewall of a tire
(Pixelbender36 / Shutterstock.com)

The sidewall of your tire is under a different form of pressure and flexes often while you drive. If you patch or plug a puncture that is too close to the sidewall, it will cause an unexpected and dangerous blowout.  This is why you need to have your tire replaced. 

If you don’t want to break the bank buying new tires, blemished tires are a good alternative.

Can you patch a run flat tire? 

Under certain circumstances, patching a run flat tire is possible. A lot of factors need to be considered, like the nature of the puncture and how big the damage was.

If the puncture is small, then patching will do. However, if for example, the reinforced sidewall sustained a lot of damage, then a tire replacement is the way to go.

zoomed in photo of a run flat tire
(Smile Fight / Shutterstock.com)

Keep in mind that careful inspection of the tire will determine whether the tire needs a patch or a replacement. 

Ultimately, when the situation arises, it’s best to use your judgment based on your tire manufacturer’s recommendation or repair policy. And if unsure, ask for assistance by contacting your tire manufacturer’s customer service.

Can a tire be patched twice?

No. Even though a tire patch can last 7 to 10 years (if done properly), doing it twice is not recommended by professionals. The same goes for repairing overlapping punctures.

The reason behind this is that doing so can affect the tire’s speed rating and worse, cause blowouts.

How much does it cost to patch a tire? 

The price range to patch a tire depends on where you’re getting it from. Generally, it will cost you anywhere between $10 to $20 for the patch and rebalance. The earlier you catch the puncture, the less you’ll have to spend.

If you’re lucky enough, you may even encounter tire repair shops that offer this service for free! Or if you got the patch from your tire manufacturer, then there’s a big chance that the repair will be a free service. 

However, there are shops that can charge as much as $40, especially if it’s a patch-plug repair. But remember, the patch-plug repair is the safest way to repair a puncture and is quite time-consuming. 

With a proper tire patch, you can save your tire and avoid road hazards without breaking the bank. That sounds a lot better than buying new tires, doesn’t? 

Where can I get my tires patched?

If you want to get the puncture fixed as soon as possible, then visiting the nearest tire repair shop is ideal.

However, if you want to know if a tire manufacturer or dealer is offering tire patching services, then continue reading below!

Does Autozone Patch tires?

No, they don’t. However, they can supply you with the tools you need to temporarily repair your tire – a repair kit, rubber cement and tire patches.

autozone logo

Does Walmart patch tires?

Yes. Walmart patches tires at any of their locations with an Auto Care Center. However, if you don’t schedule an appointment with them in advance, they won’t be able to attend to your car troubles right away.

Walmart logo

How much is it to patch a tire at Walmart?

Walmart Auto Care Center can do the job for $15 per tire. Luckily, if you bought your tires from them, they can potentially patch your tire for free since they provide after-sale services.

Does NTB patch tires?

Yes, the National Tire & Battery (NTB) Auto Center patches tires. According to their website, their tire patching services include tire inspection, industry-approved repairs, tire remounting and balancing.

National Tire and Battery logo

How much is it to patch a tire at NTB?

A tire patch at NTB will cost you $19.99 for each tire. Their website actually has a store selector where you can choose the nearest NTB Auto Center to you. From there, you can get an accurate pricing calculation based on your location.

Does Sam’s Club patch tires?

Yes, but only if you are an active member. Other than a tire patch, you also get to enjoy their emergency roadside assistance that includes towing, jump start, fuel delivery service, etc.

sam's club logo

How much is it to patch a tire at Sam’s Club?

A patch is free of charge if you’re an active member at Sam’s Club. The best part about this is that it’s a lifetime of tire repairs!

However, if you want to enjoy their other services like their emergency roadside assistance, you should get their Premium Tire Installation Package for $20.

Does Costco Patch tires?

Yes, Costco patches tires. If you got your tires installed at any of their Tire Centers, you are entitled to a lifetime of free tire repairs!

Costco wholesale logo

How much is it to patch a tire at Costco?

A patch is free of charge if you got your tires installed at Costco. However, if your tires are not installed at Costco, they can still patch them for $10.99 each.

Does AAA/Triple A patch tires?

Unfortunately, no. The American Automobile Association (AAA or Triple A) does not patch or plug tires.

American Automobile Association Logo

However, they offer roadside assistance services to get you off the side of the road. They can  install a spare tire (if you already have one), re-inflate your tire and tow your car to their nearest authorized service center or to any location you choose to get your tire repaired. 

It is worth noting that the extent of their assistance all depends on your membership level.

Does Grease Monkey patch tires?

Yes, Grease Monkey patches tires. According to their website, they can patch tires in approximately 15 minutes and the whole process is done according to industry standards.

Grease monkey logo

How much is it to patch a tire at Grease Monkey?

The cost of a tire patch isn’t explicitly stated on their website, but you can schedule a repair in advance and request a quote for their services.

Does Valvoline patch tires?

Unfortunately, Valvoline does not patch tires. However, other than oil change services, they offer other car maintenance services like tire rotation and battery replacement.

valvoline logo

Does Pepboys patch tires?

Pepboys does patch tires. Not only that, but they also offer a complete inspection of the tire before repairing it, tire balancing and even a courtesy vehicle inspection.

pepboys logo with 3 men

How much is it to patch a tire at Pepboys?

A tire patch at Pepboys will cost you $19.99 for each tire. If you prefer to book in advance, you can schedule your repair on their website.

Does Firestone patch tires?

Absolutely! Firestone patches tires. They have over 1,700 auto care stores across the US that offer tire patching and other services like mounting and balancing.

firestone logo text only

How much is it to patch a tire at Firestone?

The exact cost of a tire patch at Firestone is not stated on their website. However, you can schedule your appointment with them online and find out. This’ll depend on your car’s year, make and model.

Does Jiffy Lube patch tires?

Yes. Jiffy Lube patches tires. As a matter of fact, the repair method they use is the safest, patch-plug. And the whole repair process at Jiffy Lube is all according to industry standards.

Jiffy Lube logo

How much is it to patch a tire at Jiffy Lube?

A tire patch at Jiffy Lube can cost you between $10 to $20. Since they use the patch-plug method, the whole process takes time and includes tire balancing.

Does Mavis patch tires?

Yes, Mavis Discount Tire does patch tires. The repair process at Mavis includes tire rebalancing for most cars with rims under 18 inches.

Mavis Discount Tire logo

How much is it to patch a tire at Mavis?

A typical tire patch starts from $23 at Mavis. However, they offer a $10 off coupon on their tire repair services for the rest of 2022, which is available on their website.

Does America’s Tire patch tires?

Yes. America’s Tire offers tire patching services. They follow strict industry guidelines that help keep you safe on the road.

America's Tire logo

How much is it to patch a tire at America’s Tire?

If you purchased your tires at America’s Tire, then any tire service from tire rotation to puncture repairs are free.

Can you drive on a patched tire?

If a patch has been done properly according to industry standards by a professional, then absolutely!

To reiterate a few points mentioned above, proper tire repair is essential. It keeps you and everyone in the car safe on the road.

Can you drive long-distance with a patched tire?

A well-patched tire poses no danger. If you had a professional do the job for you, then you can be back on the road in no time.

With this in mind, you’ll be able to drive the patched tire long distances the same way before it got punctured.

woman driving safely on a highway
(Peter Fazekas / Pexels.com)

How fast can you drive on a patched tire?

A car with properly patched tires should be safe up to about 80 to 90 mph. Anything beyond that depends on the quality of your tire and the patch itself.

However, it is safer to drive a patched tire according to the recommended speed limit.


Tires are one of the most essential components of a vehicle. We rely on them to bring us to all our destinations safely. So keeping them in good shape and taking care of them is a must. 

Being prepared to handle a puncture while you’re on the road not only keeps you safe but also keeps your tires’ life long – delivering thousands of miles and ensuring a safe trip and a stable performance.

1 thought on “Tire Patching 101: The Ultimate Helpful Guide”

  1. My car’s tires appear to be worn out, and I’d like to have them replaced this month. It was useful when you indicated that the patch and rebalance will typically cost between $10 and $20. Thank you for the tire patching information and I’m hoping to get it to a good shop this week.


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