Getting a nail in a tire is perhaps one of the most frustrating things that can happen to a car owner. Often it happens when out and about running usual errands and it is no fault of the owner themselves. You could be the safest, most experienced driver in the world, and you could still fall prey to a nail puncturing your tire. In fact, a nail in your tire is probably something that you can guarantee will happen in your life at some point.
What makes it worse, is that it isn’t always easy to spot when your tire has been punctured in this way. As the nail tends to stay in the tire when it has punctured it, the leak tends to be slow and therefore silent. Unfortunately, car drivers usually only notice when this has happened to their tire if they physically see the nail in the tire or the air leak has become so bad that the tire pressure is almost flat. That being said, sometimes a punctured tire by a nail will happen in such a way that the tire will become flat upon impact.
Either way, in this guide to what to do when you have a nail in a tire, we look at how to remove a nail from your car wheels and what to do if you think that the tire needs replacing in its entirety.
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How To Remove A Nail From Your Tire
Those that already have a nail in their tire will be pleased to know that it is fairly easy to remove a nail from a tire that it has punctured.
First, arm yourself with a kit that is specially designed to patch up holes in your tires. This kit could also be sold as a plug and patch kit which are always readily available in auto shops and car outfitters. These kits are handy to have in your arsenal even before you may have suffered from a punctured tire as the plug part of the kit allows users to fill the hole that is there when a nail is removed. A tire plug kit will ordinarily come with a number of items in each pack – they will be tire plugs, an insertion needle, and a rasp tool.
When you have your kit, take out the nail with a pair of pliers from your toolkit. You may have to remove your tire to get better access to the nail. It may not come out easily so be prepared to tug as hard as you can. However, if you are really struggling, you can try to use a screwdriver or a similar item that has a sharp or pointed end to it. If you need to use a screwdriver, you will need to run around the edge of the nail head to loosen it slowly until you can finally use your pliers to pull the nail out.
Then, when you have finally managed to remove it, follow the instructions on your kit to plug the hole as best you can and then patch it so the plug remains safe. In the main, each kit will have a slight variation of the following steps:
- Put a tire plug into the end hole of an insertion needle from the kit you have. Then, put the plug in the center of the hole so that there will be the same amount of rubber or plastic on either side. Put this tool to the side for later.
- For this step, you will need to locate the rasp tool. It will look like a bit like the insertion needle. The difference being is that it does not have a hole and instead, the end is serrated. Once you have this, insert it into the puncture hole and start to turn it backward and forwards. The serrated edges are important as it creates a textured surface when you move it back and forth so that when you finally insert the plug as a patch, the plug has something that will give it some friction to stick to. Remove the rasp tool.
- Now it is time to push the tire plug into the hole by using the kit insertion needle. To do so, put the top of the needle over the puncture hole and push down with a firm grip – with both of your hands if you need it. A lot of pressure is needed to get the plug into the hole as the ends fold up and come together to form a big enough stopper for the puncture itself. Stop when the ends are coming out of the hole by about half an inch. This is a safe distance so you don’t end up pushing the plug in its entirety into the hole.
- At this point, take out the insertion needle. You should be able to do so safely without taking the plug out at the same time. If you do, simply follow the above steps again.
- Finally cut the end of the plug – either with a razor, saw or knife. This will mean that the plug is not sticking outside the perimeter of your tire. Cut it as close as possible – the best result is that it is flush with the edge.
Once you have followed these steps, it is then possible to pump your tires again to ensure that it is at a safe pressure to drive your car to a garage for the wheel to be looked at by a professional.
What Is Best – Taking The Nail Out Or Replacing The Tire?
Just because you know how to take a nail out and patch up your tire, in reality, it does not mean that it is the best course of action to take. While sometimes it may be the only course of action you can actually follow owing to where you are and when your tire is punctured by a nail, patching it up is really only ever a short-term solution to the problem.
It sometimes can be tempting to keep going on a tire that you have patched up if it seems to be holding onto its air pressure and running with your car ok. Given that a new tire is expensive, this can sometimes lead to drivers using a tire that is not really suitable for any real amount of distance or time. The reason being is that a tire with a patch on it is far more susceptible to blowing and this means it will be beyond help or anything other than a professional tire repair or a tire replacement. It could therefore very well mean that you have to have a costly call out from a highway pick up service which will amount to more than a new tire anyway. Bearing this in mind, car drivers should investigate having their tire repaired or replaced if necessary as soon as possible after patching up the wheel.
Once at the auto shop, the mechanics there will be able to tell you whether the tire is salvageable by patching the hole up from the inside which is far stronger and long-term a solution than the average person can do in their driveway. This form of repair should last and will invariably be much cheaper than a totally new tire.
That being said, there are situations where even patching your wheel from the inside is not a long-term solution to a punctured tire. For instance, if the nail punctures your tire in weaker parts of the tire rubber – like the shoulder or even the sidewall – a patch just simply isn’t suitable. It will not hold to your tire when it is in motion and so, therefore, renders your car unsafe to drive.
Additionally, if your tire has had a hole made in it that is any bigger than just a quarter of an inch, the tire cannot be salvaged and you will need unfortunately need to replace it with a new one. In fact, if you notice either of these situations like one that has happened to your tire when it has driven over a nail, get the tire replaced as soon as possible. While it will be incredibly tempting to try to patch it yourself and make good any hole in your tire, the result is just not strong enough to withstand current driving conditions and car weights.
Otherwise, a patch is a totally fine option to tide you over until you can get it to your mechanic or local auto shop for a repair. Removing a nail is a surprisingly easy process, but it’s important to know when you can do the repair yourself, and when you need to take your vehicle directly to a tire shop.