How to Fix a Tire with a Tire Patch

hand patching tire with workshop tool
  • 1-3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-100
What You'll Need
Masking tape and marker
Soap and water solution in a sprayer
Valve score tool
Tire pry bars
Workbench-mounted heavy-duty vise
Handheld vise grip pliers
Portable tire buffer
Liquid tire liner cleaner
Tire reamer
Tire patch
Patch roller
Vulcanizing liquid solution
Powered air compressor
Eye protection
What You'll Need
Masking tape and marker
Soap and water solution in a sprayer
Valve score tool
Tire pry bars
Workbench-mounted heavy-duty vise
Handheld vise grip pliers
Portable tire buffer
Liquid tire liner cleaner
Tire reamer
Tire patch
Patch roller
Vulcanizing liquid solution
Powered air compressor
Eye protection

Repairing a puncture or cut in the tread of a tire with a tire patch is a safe and effective way to fix the tire so that it can hold pressurized air again. Adding a tire patch doesn't have to be overwhelming. While there are usually instructions on the box, you can also follow these guidelines to insert a tire patch into a tire correctly.

Step 1 - Find the Puncture or Cut

Re-inflate the tire to 30 pounds per square inch, nothing more. You can do this using a portable pump or one at a gas station. You will need a working tire pressure gauge to do this step.

Examine the tire to find the hole or embedded object. Spray the surface with the detergent solution, and watch for bubbles to spot the puncture location. Mark the spot with a masking tape strip stretching over to the inner sidewall, and draw an arrow pointing to the hole. This way, you can easily find the hole when it comes time to attach the patch.

hand brushing soapy water onto tire

Step 2 - Deflate the Tire

Using the valve core tool (you can purchase these little tools at most big box stores and hardware stores), press the valve core tool into the air valve and apply firm pressure. This will allow the air to release from the tire quickly as you deflate it.

Step 3 - Separate the Tire from the Wheel Rim

Depress the tire edge next to the wheel rim until the bead is released. The tire bead is simply the rim of the edge of the tire that attaches to the wheel. Pry on the tire bead at intervals with the pry bar around the wheel on each side. Be careful with this step. You do not want to bend or damage the tire or the bead. With help from a handy second set of hands, separate the tire from the rim.

Step 4 - Remove the Foreign Object

Next, you will need a tire vise. Place the tire in a vise and tighten the vise firmly, so the area that needs to be patched is just above the clamp. Use the handheld vise grip pliers to pull out the embedded object while wearing your eye protection. Check how the object penetrated the tire so you can patch the hole effectively.

Step 5 - Prepare the Hole for Patching

Use a tire reamer to smooth and shape the rough hole so the plug patch will fit snugly. Clean the patch area inside the tire with liquid tire liner cleaner before buffing. After the cleaner dries completely, wipe off any residue. With the portable tire buffer, sand the area bordering the hole larger by 1/8 inch in length and width than the patch size. Dab the vulcanizing liquid solution onto the sanded area, leaving it to dry to a tacky texture.

corkscrew tool on a tire for repairing a patch

Step 6 - Affix the Plug and Patch

Remove the protective backing from the patch and plug. Push the plug's metal tip through the hole to the outside tread, and tug it through with the handheld vise grips. Hold it till the plug has adhered to the tire liner, and remove the metal tip. The tacky texture of the glue solution should help here. Then, pull on the plug, so the patch forms a vacuum dimple inside the tire.

Step 7 - Secure the Patch

Press firmly on the patch in all directions using your gloved hands or the roller that came with your kit until the patch is sealed and secured. Brush a thick coat of the vulcanizing solution over the patch and wait for it to dry completely.

Step 8 - Remount and Reinflate the Tire

Mount the tire onto the rim. Refill it with the air compressor, and spray it with the detergent solution to test the seal. Take the tire to a service center for balancing as needed. Then, place your tire back on your car, and you are ready to hit the open road again.

If your tire patch is beyond repair, learn how to replace your own tires here.