Nail In Tire: What to Do and How to Fix It? 

Robert Herrera-COR-Wheels

By Robert Herrera

Last updated:

A nail in tire is, unfortunately, even more common than wheel misalignment or engine drains. These small yet sharp objects lurk everywhere and strike straight into your rubber’s sidewall without warning. Power loss, steering defects, and even collisions are to be expected. 

My team can lend you some helpful pointers on what to do if nail in a tire. Keep scrolling for more fixing tips. 

Why Do Nails Get In Your Tire?

Nails during construction, in parking lots, driveways, or any roads, usually lie flat, but if one falls on road shoulders or is kicked by your car or a vehicle in front, it will penetrate into your tire more easily.

Why Do Nails Get In Your Tire

Road Shoulders

Nails, screws, debris, and other small objects are often found on road shoulders. Even just one minute of your car veering off or pulling over these places is enough to invite those objects into the tires. 

Also, nails on bumpy shoulders rarely lie flat, which makes it much easier for them to invade your car. 

Nails Kicked By The Tires

Nails are more likely to plunge deep into the tires after getting kicked by vehicles driving before your car. 

In rarer cases, your own car might also be the culprit: its front tires kick the nails to the back, pushing the nails further into the rear tires.

Side Streets And Driveways

Nails and driveways go hand in hand more often than you think – especially around residences or neighborhoods undergoing recent renovation. Chances of being their victims also increase if there is too much construction in your living area. 

Does Someone Put Nails In Your Tires On Purpose? 

Yes, people might insert a nail into your tire because of jealousy, anger, or revenge, especially when nails suddenly appear more and more often in your tire. One tip is to check whether the nails are old or new. 

Old nails are much more likely to be thrown around on the streets or construction sites. On the contrary, newer nails that look like they have just been purchased most certainly result from someone’s dirty work.

Still, new nails can show up in construction areas by accident, too, so we cannot be 100% certain. To tackle this uncertainty, ask yourself whether you have fallen out with anybody recently, or install cameras around your house/vehicle to inspect the footage later. 

How to Tell Whether Your Tire Has Nails or Screws?

Non-professionals will find it difficult to tell whether their cars need a nail or screw in tire repair. But you can try out these four methods:

  • Low Air Pressure: Tire pressure that deflates fast – even after you have just filled it – clearly signifies nail punctures.
  • Visual Inspection: Low tread depth, tire obstructions, or uneven wear are all transparent symptoms you can easily observe without specialized tools. 
  • Soap test: Spray your tire with soapy water; if there are any nails, bubbles will start forming on the puncture/nail hole.
Locate A Tire Leak by soap
  • Professional insights: Still feel uncertain? Ask for professional help. Experienced tire mechanics have worked with all types of tire issues for decades and can spot nail punctures within seconds.

What Should You Do With The Nails, Then? 

If a nail gets in your tire, pull over, take the nail out with a screwdriver or pliers, and plug it (for holes smaller than ¼ inch and away from the sidewall). Otherwise, you have to replace the tire.

Step 1. 

Examine the nail first. Small punctures close to the tread’s center are great news; it means they are fixable. If you cannot locate the nail, use my soap test (instructed above) to identify the leakage hole. 

Step 2.

Remove the nail from your tire, then rough out its hole using the ream tool covered in most commercial plug kits. Push and pull the tool several times. 

Remove the nail from tire

Once done, pick a threaded needle (also covered in the tire plug kit) and push it deep into the rubber until nothing sticks out. Trim the excess part if there is any. 

Extra: Skip step 2 for punctures larger than a quarter inch in diameter. In this case, your only option is to have the tire replaced (either by yourself or at the tire shop). 

Can You Patch A Tire With A Nail In It?

tire patched

Yes. Very small tire punctures (less than 1/4 inches) that are not anywhere close to the tire’s shoulder or sidewall can easily be handled with a simple patch. 

However, tire patches are not supposed to be a long-term solution: they cannot withstand driving stresses over long periods and still have to be replaced eventually. 

I used to try this way since I had no tool to pull the nail off at that time, but the patch only let me drive for about 3 more miles before the patch peeled off. Because the nail was still in and the surface was not completely smooth, the adhesion of the patch was just that poor.

So either fix it with secure tire plugs (as instructed above) or have the entire tire closely inspected by tire technicians for possible replacements.

For more: How Long Does A Patched Tire Last?

Where to Get Nail Removed From Tire? Auto Repair Tire Services Near Me

Unless your car gets stuck on an empty road, tire services that take care of punctures are always available; some even sell plug kits for DIY repairs. Here are some of my favorite brands:

  • AutoZone
  • Auto Parts
  • Jiffy Lube
  • Jerry Insurance
  • Firestone
  • Discount Tires

How to Protect Your Tires from Nails?

Better be safe than sorry; protect your car from malicious nails and tire damage by following these tips: 

  • Drive slowly and carefully. Always keep a safe distance from the cars before yours (preferably 3 seconds).
  • Avoid dangerous roads, such as those near construction sites
  • Purchase gel protectors if your tires are pneumatic and tubeless. They are excellent solutions against tire nails. 


How Long Will Tire Last With Nail In It? 

They can travel for a few more hundred miles (2- 300); it is difficult to give an exact estimation, given little information about the puncture size and current tire performance.

Do All Four Tires Need to Match? 

Yes. So if one of your tires needs to be changed due to nail punctures, purchasing a whole new 4-tire set would be much better.


Nails in tires either can be plugged or need new replacements; assess your situation carefully to decide which scenario your car falls under. If troubles persist, write to me for more advice. 

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Robert Herrera

President & Automotive Expert at COR Wheels

Robert Herrera has been with COR Wheels for 17 years and has a great passion for the automotive industry. During his time at COR Wheels, he has driven and test-driven a variety of vehicles.

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