Rob T. – Tasmania
Are tyre plugs legal? A tyre dealer told me they’re illegal and that I had to replace the tyre. Is this true or is the dealer just trying to make more money from me?
I’ve used tyre plugs before and never had a problem with them. What’s the go?
The quick answer is yes. Tyre plugs are legal.
But like most things, there’s more to it.
Tyre dealers have some great reasons for refusing to repair a plugged tyre. While they probably shouldn’t be saying tyre plugs are illegal, they’re well within their rights to refuse to repair a plugged tyre.
Here’s the normal process. Say you have a nail in your tyre (not plugged) and you take it for repair. This is what happens or at least, should happen:
- If the nail has penetrated the shoulder or sidewall, then you can pretty well guarantee they won’t repair it. Damage in these areas greatly increases the chances of a blowout.
- If the nail is within the tread area and the tread is above the wear indicators, they’ll probably repair it.
- A reputable dealer will remove the tyre from the rim. They’ll inspect the inside of the tyre for damage and assess whether it’s okay to repair.
- They’ll also be able to see if the tyre has been driven on while flat. This can cause damage to the sidewall, greatly increasing the chances of a blowout.
- If the hole is larger than 6mm (¼”), they usually won’t repair it. Why? Because the damage to the tyre casing will most likely be too great.
- If it’s okay to repair, they’ll fill the hole with rubber then use a mushroom patch from the inside for maximum strength.
Now imagine you’re a tyre dealer. Someone rocks in with a flat tyre. You notice it has previously been plugged in another spot.
As the tyre dealer, here’s what you don’t know:
- Who installed the tyre plug and whether they did it properly.
- How long ago it was plugged.
- Whether the hole was larger than 6mm.
- Whether the plug has allowed water to get into the casing, causing the steel belts to corrode.
So if somewhere down the track, this tyre blows out and causes an accident… who’s liable? The tyre dealer, or whoever fitted the tyre plug?
And that’s why tyre dealers won’t repair plugged tyres. It’s simply not worth the risk.
So while you might think tyre dealers are just trying to rip you off, keep in mind they’re liable. Yes, they might try to tell you tyre plugs are illegal. In this case, walk away if you’re not comfortable with them. Go to another dealer, someone you trust.
The other issue with tyre plugs is, you don’t know what’s happening inside the tyre. We had a case where we picked up some rusty wire in a tyre. When we took it to the tyre repairer, they showed us the inside of the tyre.
The end of the wire had broken off inside and shredded the internals as we drove along. The tyre was destroyed on the inside.
If we’d have simply pulled the wire out of the tyre and plugged it, it’s very likely the tyre would have blown out soon after.
So yes, tyre plugs are legal. However, use them for emergency repairs in the bush. Use them when you don’t have the option of getting the tyre repaired properly.
Tyre plugs were never designed as a replacement for a proper internal puncture repair job. They’re supposed to be used as a last resort, when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere.
And once you get back to civilisation, take the tyre to a dealer you trust and get it checked out properly.
Hope this helps.
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