How to Use a Tire Repair Kit? Step-by-Step Guide (+Video)

Plugging a tire: Inserting the plug

Flat tires always seem to strike at the most inconvenient times, don’t they? Luckily, there’s a solution that can get you back on the road in no time: tire repair kits.

In this blog post, we’ll explore everything you need to know about these handy tools and provide a step-by-step guide on how to use a tire repair kit effectively – your future self will thank you for being prepared when an unexpected puncture threatens to derail your plans!

Summary: How to Use a Tire Repair Kit

How to Use a Tire Repair Kit: Infographic

What Is A Tire Repair Kit?

A tire repair kit is an essential collection of tools and materials designed to help drivers quickly fix a flat tire without the need for professional assistance.

Instead of being stranded on the side of the road or waiting for roadside help, these kits allow you to take matters into your own hands and get back on your journey in no time.

They are compact, easy to store in your vehicle, and can save both time and money by allowing you to temporarily repair punctures until a more permanent solution can be found.

Types Of Tire Repair Kits

Tire repair kits come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each designed to suit different needs:

Tire Sealant Repair Kit

Tire Sealant Repair Kit

Tire sealant kits provide an easy and effective solution for repairing your vehicle’s tires. Installing the sealant requires few tools or expertise, making it perfect for any DIYer.

The process involves injecting the sealant into the tire through the valve stem, where it will quickly fill holes and prevent air from escaping. With an electric inflator, this job can be completed quickly and easily with minimal mess.

Tire sealant kits provide an ideal solution for dealing with small holes in your tires. For larger holes up to ¼ inch, a tire plug repair kit is required.

Tire Plug Repair Kit

Plug repair kits are the most widely used type of tire repair kits for cars and trucks. If your vehicle didn’t come with a sealant kit, this is the type of kit you should use to help you fix punctures. In this article, we’ll take a look at what these kits contain.

Plug-type kits contain a plug that is typically 4 to 5 inches long and is inserted into the hole in your tire to stop air from leaking out.

Components Of A Tire Repair Kit

TIre Repair Kit: String Plugs, Plug Insertion Tool, Reaming Tool, and Rubber Cement
  • 1 – String plugs: Used to seal punctures, these adhesive-coated strings are inserted into the hole to create an air-tight seal.
  • 2 – Plug insertion tool: This T-handle tool helps insert the string plug into the puncture.
  • 3 – Reaming tool: Used to clean and enlarge the puncture before plugging it, ensuring a better fit and seal.
  • 4 – Rubber cement: Applied around the string plug, rubber cement provides an additional layer of security by creating a stronger bond between the plug and the tire.

Step-by-Step Guide On How To Use A Tire Repair Kit

Using A Tire Repair Kit. Step 1: Pull out the object that caused the puncture

Pull out the object that caused the puncture

To begin the process of tire repair, the first step is to locate and remove the object that caused the puncture.

Using A Tire Repair Kit. Step 2: Lube the tip of the probe

Lube the tip of the probe

The next step is to lubricate the tip of your probe. This helps ensure that your probe glides smoothly as it enters and exits the tire, reducing potential damage to the rubber or tube.

It is recommended to use a high-quality lubricant for this step, such as silicone oil or graphite powder, as this will help limit grinding between the metal and rubber.

Using A Tire Repair Kit. Step 3: Insert the probe at the angle of the puncture to clean the edges

Insert the probe at the angle of the puncture to clean the edges

Once you have applied a generous amount of lubricant, carefully insert the probe into the area of the puncture at an angle.

By angling your probe correctly, you can clean away any debris stuck around and inside of the hole with minimal pressure.

Using A Tire Repair Kit. Step 4: Use the probe to spread the puncture

Use the probe to spread the puncture

Now, you can use the probe to spread the puncture. This step is done by slowly moving your probe in a circular motion around the punctured area until it increases slightly in size.

This should give you a good opening that is wide enough for your repair cord. You want to make sure that no irregular edges or points remain around the hole, as this could later cause potential air leakage due to weak sealing of the plug.

Be careful not to spread too much or make large movements with your probe as this could weaken the tire and increase risks of further damage down the line.

Using A Tire Repair Kit. Step 5: Thread the repair cord into your insertion tool

Thread the repair cord into your insertion tool

Thread the repair cord into your insertion tool.

Threading the sticky cork tire repair plug is not easy, but if you can get it squished into the hole, you should be able to pull it on through. The side cutters might help.

Using A Tire Repair Kit. Step 6: Apply a little rubber cement to the plug

Apply a little rubber cement to the plug

Once you have carefully threaded the repair cord into the puncture, it is time to apply a little rubber cement to the plug.

This helps ensure that the repair cord stays secure and forms a tight seal with the tire.

Using A Tire Repair Kit. Step 7: Insert the Plug

Insert the Plug

After applying the rubber cement to the plug, you can now insert it into your tire. Start by pressing the plug firmly into the puncture and ensure that it covers the entire area.

Using A Tire Repair Kit. Step 8: Extract the insertion tool

Extract the insertion tool

After securely inserting the plug, it is time to extract the insertion tool. Slowly and carefully pull out the tool, taking care not to tear or damage the repair cord.

Using A Tire Repair Kit. Step 9: Trim the repair cord

Trim the repair cord

Now that the plug is secured in place, use a pair of scissors or a sharp blade to trim off any excess repair cord.

Make sure to cut it flush with the surface of the tire and keep any frayed edges away from meeting the edge of the plug.

Finished tire repair


Congratulations! You’ve successfully repaired your tire using a tire repair kit. You can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you don’t have to worry about replacing your tire or getting stuck on the side of the road.

How to Use a Tire Repair Kit: Video Instructions

Tire Repair Kit Price

  • Basic tire plug kits that come with tools like reamers and pliers cost between $10.00 and $20.00.
  • Complete tire repair kits that also include a compressor can cost upwards of $50.00.
  • Professional-grade tire repair kits used by mechanics can cost up to $100.00 or more.
  • Additional string plugs for your kit typically cost around $2.00 to $3.00 each.

Where To Buy Tire Repair Kit

  • Auto parts stores – You can find tire repair kits at most auto parts stores such as AutoZone, Pep Boys, and Advance Auto Parts.
  • Online retailers – Many online retailers like Amazon and Tire Rack offer a variety of tire repair kits that you can purchase from the comfort of your home.
  • Automotive department stores – Stores like Walmart and Target often have an automotive section where they sell basic car maintenance items including tire repair kits.
  • Gas stations – Some gas stations also carry basic automotive supplies including tire repair kits for those emergency situations on the road.
  • Tires shops – If you prefer professional consultation before purchasing a tire repair kit, consider visiting a local tire shop or mechanic who may also offer these items for sale.

Tire Plug Strip Vs Mushroom Plug Puncture Repair Kits

Safety Precautions For Using A Tire Repair Kit

  • Make sure that the vehicle is parked on a flat surface and that the handbrake is engaged.
  • Always read and follow the instructions provided in the kit carefully.
  • Do not attempt to use a tire repair kit on a tire that has been driven on when flat for an extended period, as it may have internal damage that cannot be repaired.
  • Turn off your car’s engine before beginning any repairs.
  • Keep children away from the work area, and do not leave tools lying around unattended.

When To Replace A Damaged Tire Instead Of Repairing It

Tire Shoulder Puncture
  • The location of the damage: If the puncture or damage is in the sidewall of the tire or within 1 inch from the edge of the tire, it cannot be repaired.
  • The size of the damage: If the puncture or damage is larger than a quarter inch, it may not be safe to repair and should be replaced instead.
  • The age of the tire: If a tire is over six years old or has reached its maximum mileage limit, it may be time to replace it even if there is no visible damage.
  • The tread depth: If the remaining tread depth is less than 2/32 of an inch, which can be checked with a penny test, it’s time to replace the tire.
  • Multiple repairs: According to the tire manufacturer Firestone, if the tire has two punctures, getting a tire repaired is only an option as long as the punctures are at least 16 inches apart and the maximum number of repairs does not exceed a total of 2 in the tire.

Alternatives To Tire Repair Kits

Run-flat Tires

Normal Tires vs Run Flat Tires - Sidewall Comparison

Run-flat tires are an alternative to tire repair kits. These tires are designed to allow drivers to continue driving on a flat tire for a short distance (typically 50 miles) at reduced speed.

Run-flat tires work by incorporating rigid sidewalls or reinforced beads that provide support even when the tire has lost air pressure.

Self-sealing Tires

Self-sealing Tires - Interior pic

Self-sealing tires are an alternative to traditional tire repair kits. They work by having a sealant layer built into the tire that can automatically plug small punctures, such as those caused by nails or screws.

Some popular self-sealing technologies include Michelin SelfSeal and Goodyear Assurance WeatherReady. However, it’s important to note that self-sealing tires may not be able to repair larger punctures or cuts.


Can A Tire Be Repaired If The Puncture Is On The Sidewall?

Unfortunately, if the puncture is on the sidewall of your tire, it cannot be repaired. The reason for this is because the sidewall does not have the same structure and support as other parts of the tire. If you attempt to repair a sidewall puncture, it can result in further damage or even a blowout while driving. This is why professional mechanics will always advise against repairing a sidewall puncture.

Is It Safe To Repair A Tire Yourself Or Should It Be Done By A Professional?

Repairing a tire yourself can save you money, but it’s important to know the risks involved. A plug-only repair is an unsafe method for repairing a tire and can lead to further damage or even a blowout while driving.

If you do decide to repair a tire yourself, make sure you follow all safety precautions provided with your kit and practice using the kit before experiencing an actual emergency.

Also, keep in mind that plugging a tire is considered as a temporary fix until it can be inspected and repaired properly by professionals.

Final Words

In conclusion, a tire repair kit is an essential tool to have on hand for any driver. With a little preparation and practice, you can easily repair small punctures in your tires and get back on the road quickly. Not only can using a tire repair kit save you time and hassle by avoiding a trip to the mechanic or tire shop, but it can also save you money by extending the life of your tires.

Remember to follow safety precautions, check your kit regularly for completeness, and know when it’s time to replace a damaged tire instead of repairing it. Don’t let a flat tire ruin your day – grab a tire repair kit and hit the road with confidence!