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Tire Patching 101: Costs, Effectiveness, and Making the Right Choice for Your Vehicle

A mechanic buffs a tire during a tire repair

Puncture your tire, and now you need to know how much it costs to plug a tire with a nail in it?

Getting a tire repair is much cheaper than buying a new tire and can be performed in most cases where a tire is punctured as long as the tire is in relatively good condition and the sidewall is not damaged.

A basic tire patch job usually doesn't cost more than $10-$20 on average, with the cost of patch kits being closer to $5-$10.

Walmart, Discount Tire, and Firestone all offer the service for varying prices.

But most tire centers will only patch a relatively new tire and if it doesn't have damage to the sidewall.

Please keep reading to learn when you should and shouldn't patch a tire, how much it costs to plug a tire, and more.

Table Of Contents [show]

    A mechanic buffs a tire during a tire repair
    A mechanic buffs a tire during a tire repair

    How Much Does It Cost To Get A Tire Patched?

    When asking how much to fix a flat tire, you will get different answers depending on the cause of the flat.

    For example, if the flat is due to a bubble, bulge, or blown tire, you will need to pay for a new tire entirely.

    But for flat tires caused by a small puncture or leak, a patch might be enough to do the trick.

    Tire patches cost between $5 and $15 on average.

    You also have to factor in the labor cost if you aren't going to DIY the job, which usually doesn't tack on more than $5 or $10 to the overall price.

    For auto laborers who charge by the hour, you could be looking at a slightly steeper price (closer to $30-$40).

    But, in general, tire repairs are extremely economical.

    How Much Is A Tire Patch?

    A tire patch usually is around $5 or $10, but you'll still have to pay for the labor.

    Luckily tire repairs don't take long, and some mechanics or auto shops will do the service for free.

    How Much Does It Cost To Patch A Tire At Walmart?

    Walmart's Auto Care Center services web page offers a tubeless flat tire repair service for a flat rate of $15.

    For each flat tire, you need to get patched; you will have to pay this same rate.

    On the other hand, if you want to buy the patch from Walmart and do the patching yourself, you'll be paying closer to $5 overall.

    How Much Does It Cost To Patch A Tire At Firestone?

    You can just as easily get a quick plug and patch service (flat tire repair) at a Firestone Auto Care Center.

    According to their official tire service web page, they offer patch and plug services only to customers whose tires are fairly low on mileage and not more than ten years old.

    You'll pay close to $10-$20 for their service package.

    A tire repair in progress
    A tire repair in progress

    How Much Does It Cost To Patch A Tire At Discount Tire?

    At Discount Tire, you can avail of "comprehensive flat tire repair services" so long as your tires aren't so bad off that they need to be replaced.

    What's great about this company is that some store locations will even patch a flat tire free of charge if the damage is minor enough.

    Of course, if you're dealing with a puncture in the sidewall or bulge, you'll need a brand new tire.

    Is Patching A Tire Worth It?

    If your tire is in good condition other than the puncture hole, it is almost always worth it to get the tire patched. The total cost for the patch and labor shouldn't add up to more than $40.

    If you elect to replace the damaged tire with a new tire, you may also need to replace its adjacent tire on the other side of the vehicle to maintain proper alignment, which doubles the cost!

    When Should You Not Patch A Tire?

    Tire shops may refuse to do the tire repair if any of the following are true:

    • The crack, hole, or puncture is larger than ¼" in diameter
    • The leak is coming from the shoulder or sidewall
    • The damage extends to the steel belt of the tire
    • The tire is close to the end of its tread life
    • A tire patch will void your warranty

    What Type Of Leaks Can A Tire Patch Fix?

    In general, patch kits and patch services are designated solely for leaks arising from holes less than ¼" in diameter.

    Large holes, cuts, or cracks in tires generally cannot be repaired and lead to a need for replacement.

    Patches are also not suited to leaks from the tire's sidewall or shoulder.

    What Process Is Used When Repairing A Tire?

    For most tire repairs (having a puncture patched), the mechanic will take the following steps:

    1. The tire is removed from its rim
    2. The screw, nails, broken glass, or other leftovers from the flat incident are removed from the tire
    3. The inner surface of the rubber is buffed and cleaned
    4. The leak/hole is drilled into to eliminate any damaged cords (first from the inside out, then from the outside in)
    5. Vulcanizing cement is added to the hole on the inner surface
    6. The hole is plugged from the inside out with the tire plug material
    7. The plug is cut flush against the outer tire surface
    8. The patch is stitched to the outer tire surface, sealed with tire sealant, and buffed
    9. The tire is remounted, reinflated, and tested
    A tire with a screw puncture
    A tire with a screw puncture

    How Long Does It Take To Patch A Tire?

    When done by a skilled professional, a tire patch service should not take longer than 15 minutes to complete.

    If you're getting an extensive flat tire repair, however, it could take an hour to an hour and a half to complete.

    This is why it's generally such a cheap repair job for the car owner when it's possible.

    How Long Does A Tire Patch Take To Dry?

    Once completed, a patched tire needs time to dry before the seal is good to drive on.

    You should wait at least 10 minutes for the repair to dry, and then you can drive carefully to test the tire and ensure you have fixed the leak.

    How Long Can You Drive On A Patched Tire?

    One of the reasons that consumers laud tire patches is that, when used correctly, they have the potential to keep your tire safe for the rest of its tread life.

    Of course, you still have to do proper tire maintenance - regular rotations, proper inflation, and not putting overbearing loads on them.

    But a good tire patch on a tire still has a decent amount of tread life left and can last for years.

    Can A Patched Tire Blowout?

    Remember that there are some instances where a tire patch won't do you much good.

    As previously mentioned, if you try to patch a leak on a tire's sidewall or shoulder, you leave the tire vulnerable to blowing out.

    In worst-case situations, you could spin off the road, cause a car accident, and damage your wheels and/or suspension.

    Can You Patch A Tire On Your Own?

    You can patch a tire on your own at home.

    After all, that's why DIY tire patches and plug kits are sold at nearly every auto shop around.

    But remember that a mechanic or tire center professional will do the job properly and in less time than it will likely take you to do.

    And considering the cheap service prices, you might very well consider having a professional patch your tire for you.

    Is It Better To Patch A Tire Or Plug It?

    Most people agree that tire patches are far more effective than tire plugs.

    Although a proper tire plug job can extend the life of your tire by tens of thousands of miles, a patch could last for the rest of the tire's tread life.

    Furthermore, patches can accomplish fixes of slightly larger holes, uneven puncture shapes, and even those that sit closer to (but not on) a tire's sidewall.

    And because these products cost the same, the patch seems to be the smarter choice.


    If you've ever wondered how much to fix a flat tire? Hopefully, our guide has put your worries to rest.

    When it's possible to patch a leaky tire (the damage is small and not on the sidewall), you'll likely pay between $10-$20, depending on where you go and whether or not you do the repair yourself.


    Can I Drive A Long Distance With A Plugged Tire?

    Many drivers want to know how long they can drive with a plugged tire.

    Note that you shouldn't drive long distances with a plugged tire, as they're only temporarily designed to fix a hole.

    A plug may last for several miles or years, depending on the hole's size and the tire's quality.

    We're detailing how long a plug lasts and why you shouldn't drive on one long-term.