How to Use Rubber Cement on a Tire

How to Use Rubber Cement on a Tire

Accidentally run over a nail or find out that you have a puncture or hole in one of your tires? You probably want to fix it quickly and get back on the road as soon as possible. 

If you’re on a budget and want to get it done yourself, you’re in luck because rubber cement is one of the most cost-effective methods of fixing your tires. 

Check out our guide to everything you need to know.

Short Answer

You can plug or patch your punctured tire as long as the hole is not bigger than a quarter of an inch and the location of the hole is not too close to the sidewall.

Consider checking: How To Use A Tire Plug Kit

Why Use Rubber Cement on a Tire?

Though you don’t need to be an expert on it, knowing how to properly handle rubber cement and understanding what it’s made of is necessary if you want to learn how to use rubber cement on a tire correctly. It is acid-free and dries without wrinkling. As long as rubber cement is tightly contained in proper storage, it can last indefinitely. 

how to plug a tire rubber cement

However, air exposure causes rubber cement to thicken and renders it unusable. To prevent your rubber cement from drying out, you can put a little grease or Vaseline around the opened nozzle. It will serve as an air sealant and prolong its use. 

What Precautions Should You Take Before Using Rubber Cement on a Tire?

Rubber cement contains hazardous, highly flammable ingredients such as trichloroethane, heptane, and acetone. 

Be sure to only use rubber cement in a well-ventilated area. An open garage is a good choice, but if you need to work indoors, allow fresh air to circulate through an open window. Repeatedly sniffing rubber cement can cause severe damage to your kidneys, lungs, and brain. 

What Do You Need to Prepare for Rubber Cement on a Tire?

Getting a tire repair kit makes the process of how to use rubber cement on a tire easier; you’ll have all the tools you need to complete the job correctly.

However, the type of kit and instructions you need will depend on whether you’re operating a car or a truck.

Along with quality rubber cement, you’ll need a good patch. The rubber cement allows patches to adhere to the inside of tire walls. Most standard tire repair kits have: 

  1. T-style Handle Reamer Probe
  2. Needle Nose Plugs
  3. Self-Vulcanized Plugs
  4. Patches

To Plug or To Patch?

Not sure if you need to plug or patch your tire? We’ll help you decide below. 

When to Plug

Plugs are best suited for small holes away from the sidewall of the tire. Whether you’ve treaded on a small nail, screw, or puncture, you can fix your tire by plugging. 

 how to use rubber cement on tire

Do not plug if:

  • The hole is too close to the sidewall
  • The hole is irregularly shaped
  • There is a bulge or bubble on the sidewall
  • The hole or nail is large
  • The tire is bordering on repair
  • The sidewall has been damaged

When to Patch

Patches work well only if the puncture is less than a quarter-inch in diameter. However, the location of the puncture is very important in determining if a patch will be effective. 

Unlike plugs, patches are better for bigger holes that are closer to the sidewall. This does not mean that a patch can repair a sidewall. If your tire’s sidewall is damaged, then you need to get your tire replaced. 

Do not patch if:

  • There is another patch on a nearby part of the tire.
  • The puncture is at a peculiar angle.
  • The sidewalls are damaged.
  • The puncture is larger than a quarter of an inch.

Plugging Your Tire

 how to use rubber cement on tire
  1. Pull a rubber plug halfway through the eye of the T-style handle reamer tool.
  2. Coat the plug with rubber cement.
  3. Push the reamer tool into the puncture so that most of the plug is inside the tire.
  4. Pull the reamer tool out of the tire quickly.

Patching Your Tire

  1. Buff the puncture or the area you want to use the rubber cement on.
  2. Remove loose particles and leave the entire area within half an inch of the puncture roughened.
  3. Brush rubber cement onto the roughened surface and spread evenly. Work into the material.
  4. Scrape off excess.
  5. Remove the backing of the patch without touching the exposed surface.
  6. Apply the patch over the puncture area and press firmly, particularly the edges.

How Do You Dry Rubber Cement?

Rubber cement can dry in a hot, dry environment in a minute or two. It takes about five minutes for a tire patch to dry. It takes fifteen minutes for it to cure, and by then, you can air the tire up and recheck for leaks. 

As long as you’ve applied the rubber cement evenly, you won’t have to worry about leaks after checking.  

Consider checking: How To Fix A Tire Rim Leak

How Long will Rubber Cement Last?

Many people say that you can drive with a plugged tire for about seven to ten years, but we recommend proceeding with caution as it is most effective for a few months. 

If the location of the hole is too close to the sidewall and there are installation issues, the tire may not last as long as you would like it to.

Bottom Line

You can plug or patch your punctured tire as long as the hole is not bigger than a quarter of an inch and the location of the hole is not too close to the sidewall. 

Exercise caution when using rubber cement and be sure to safely store it when you’re finished by sealing it completely. Make sure you remove the tire from the wheel and check for other holes and issues before tire plugging or patching.

Did you find this guide helpful? Then feel free to have a look at others:

How Much Is It To Repair A Tire
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How Close To The Sidewall Can You Patch A Tire
How To Fix Flat Spots On Tires
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