*Tire Plug Repair*
The first place I saw any information on how to put a plug in a tire was on the public side of the Rubicon (in 2000 or so). The articles gave me the confidence to try this type of repair myself. I knew how to pull a tire off the rim and patch it, tubeless and tube type (done it on big rigs) but not how to plug a puncture on a tubeless tire.
Last fall I was putting a plug in one of my tires when a neighbor asked what I was doing. So, I showed him how to put a plug in a tubeless tire. About a month ago I noticed a different neighbor, young couple with a baby, were driving around on a doughnut spare. I know they can't afford a new tire so I offered to show the young man how to put a plug in the tire on the condition that he help and learn how to do it himself, as doughnut spares are designed for a short road life. FNV, my son ran three in three weeks several years ago. He would wear the tread off of one and change it for another doughnut spare.
Tools and supplies you will need:
It is recommended that you plug a tire that has had all the air let out of the tire. I have successfully plugged tires that were pressurized. I think that part of the reason for the deflated recommendation is that air pressure in the tire tends to cause the rubber cement to fly all over the place when you push the plug into the tire.
The first step is to find the offending object that has punctured the tire. You can have someone slowly drive the car as you look for whatever the offending object is, or you can dismount the tire from the vehicle and roll the tire on the ground until you find whatever has punctured the tire. Be sure to check the side wall not just the tread. If you can't find the puncture, pour soapy water on the tread as you roll the tire and look for bubbles forming from the escaping air. Check the valve and valve stem as well, a loose valve or cracked stem will cause the tire to lose pressure (I usually check this first). You can put a little soapy water on the valve and valve stem (spit works too). Tip, when mixing soap and water put the water in the bottle first and the bottle won't fill up with bubbles the way it will if you put the soap in the bottle first. When you find the puncture, pull out whatever caused the puncture. Things I've pulled out of tires included nails, screws, staples, bolts, and the strangest was a plastic ball point pen. I have found that if it is a screw or a bolt that's causing the problem, it can be easier to remove by unscrewing it. That's why a screw driver is listed in the tools.
After you've found the offending object, mark it's location on the tire with the chalk or grease pen. That way, if you have to leave the tire for some reason, you don't have to find it again. Now, remove whatever has punctured your tire.
If for some reason you don't want to lose all the air in the tire, be ready with the reaming tool. A few good strokes with the reaming tool is all it takes to clean up the hole and make it large enough for the plug.
If I haven't already put the plug into the plugging needle, I leave the reaming tool in the hole until the plug and needle are ready.
With the plug threaded into the needle (so the needle is at the middle of the plug), I put a little of the vulcanizing rubber cement on the plug. I then pull the reaming tool out of hole and put the plug in the hole; however, be ready for flying rubber cement if there is air in the tire. You want the plug to go a good way into the tire, leaving a couple of tails about an inch long on the outside of the tire. Then, simply pull the needle back out. The slit in the end of needle will allow the needle to be removed and leave the plug in the tire.
The next step is to trim the tails off with the side cut pliers or a razor knife.
Then, air up the tire to the appropriate pressure.
Simple and easy, with a few tools you can quickly repair a punctured tire.
A few notes:
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