Tire punctures are among the biggest headaches we face as off-road riders. Some punctures are unavoidable- a buried nail or screw can leave your tire flat in minutes, and you stranded on the trail. It is always a good idea to carry a compact tire plug and inflation kit like this one from Genuine Innovations- at $56.99 from DennisKirk.com, it’s cheap insurance for your tires.
Plugging a tire is very simple, and it takes less than five minutes. Here’s a quick how-to that can be completed trailside, ensuring you get where you’re going without ruining a tire or a rim.
Find the puncture. This will require rolling the vehicle forward with a spotter looking at your tire. Some punctures may be hard to notice- if you find a suspect point in the tire that you think may be leaking, you can use a small amount of saliva on your fingertip to check for air bubbles in the tire carcass. If you find a nail like we did, it’s easier to spot. Remove any debris stuck in the hole.
Use the knurled reaming tool provided with the kit to clean up the hole. A couple quick runs through the hole with the tool will do the trick. Then, thread one of the tire plugs through the plug tool (forked end) like a thread through the eye of a needle. Coat the plug in rubber cement, and gently force the plug into the puncture hole. Both ends of the plug will fold up- do not push the plug all the way into the tire. Once the plug has been submerged until there is about 1/2 inch of the ends showing, quickly yank the tool away from the tire. This will leave the plug inside the tire’s carcass.
Use the supplied CO2 inflator to pump up the tire. Check the recently plugged spot for leaks. If it is leak-free, you’re ready to ride!
For added insurance (or plugging very stubborn leaks), you can use SLIME tire sealant. This requires removal of the valve stem core with the supplied tool. Remove the valve stem core, and pump the recommended amount of SLIME into the tire (the bottle will have recommended doses). Reinstall the valve stem core, and inflate the tire. Make sure the vehicle is driven around for a bit after installing the SLIME so it doesn’t puddle in the bottom of the tire.