How to Fix a Flat Tire without Removing It

flat tire
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 6-50
What You'll Need
Car jack
Aerosol spray tire filler
Tire plugs
Nail file
Rasp tool
Tire cement
Insertion tool

When you are driving, getting a flat tire is an inevitable occurrence. You should always be prepared just in case you do get a flat tire. Make sure you have a jack in the trunk along with a spare tire. You should also have a flat tire repair kit, which should include an aerosol can of tire filler, pliers, and tire plugs. Removing a tire is not always something that has to be done when you get a flat tire, and you can often fix a basic flat without removing the tire.

Step 1 - Inspect the Tire

Make sure the car is a safe area where you can get out of the vehicle without worrying about getting hit by other drivers. Jack the car up on the corner where the flat tire is and follow the instructions on the jack so you don't damage the underside of the car. With the car on the jack, you will be able to rotate the tire. Inspect the tread of the tire and listen closely for an air leak. If the damage is on the side of the tire, or if it's shredded or there is a crack, there is no way you can fix it. If there's a nail, screw or other puncture on the tread then you can fix the flat.

Step 2 - Remove the Culprit

red car with a flat tire

Once you find the object that caused the flat tire you can remove it. Grip the top of the object with a pair of pliers. Pull the object out of the tire in a straight motion. Do your best to not wiggle or break the object.

Step 3 - Plug the Puncture

Removing the object will cause the air to escape the tire more rapidly, so you will have to work quickly. Plunge the rasp tool inside the puncture. This will clear away the rubber and roughen the hole to help with bonding. Cover the plug with the tire cement. Remove the rasp tool and quickly, using the insertion tool, insert the plug inside the hole with about 1/2 inch of the plug sticking out of the tire. Remove the insertion tool, leaving the plug in the tire. Use the nail file to sand the plug down so that it's flush with the tire.

Step 4 - Tire Fill

Follow the instructions on the can of tire fill. This will fill the tire with air, as well as helping to secure the plug on the inside.