Key Takeaways

  • A screw usually gets in the tire when you drive over it.
  • The screw can just puncture the tread and go straight into the tire.
  • It’s not smart to drive on a tire with low tire pressure since it can do damage to the tire.
  • Plugging a tire is something you can do at home.
  • Never remove a screw from a tire without checking that it punctured the tire first.

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A screw in a tire can cause it to go flat. This can really ruin your day and lead to a flat tire. But how does a screw get in a tire?

A screw usually gets in the tire when you drive over it and it punctures the tread. A screw doesn’t have to actually be screwed into the tire. The screw can just puncture the tread and go straight into the tire, causing the tire to go flat.

I’m a mechanic with five years experience of diagnosing and repairing vehicles. I am ASE certified and have received my associate’s degree in automotive repair. I receive the latest and most up-to-date training on the most recently released automotive technology. And I repair vehicles with the latest tools and software.

Table of Contents

How Screws Get In Tires

Screws getting in tires can be a nuisance, since they can lead to flats. Flat tires lead you to the repair shop, which costs you time and money. But it’s not so obvious as to how screws actually get into tires.

Do they screw in? Do they pop in? How do screws get into tires? From what I’ve seen in my profession, screws puncture the tread of tires, and pop into tires. Imaging you taking the head of a screw, and punching it into a tire. This is the same concept of how a screw gets into a tire.

But instead of someone punching the screw into the tire, the weight of the vehicle does the work when it rolls over the screw. When a vehicle rolls over a screw, the weight of the vehicle forces the screw into the tread, forcing a puncture wound into the tire.

If a screw is long, the screw penetrates deeper. But both short screws and long screws can lead to a deflated tire. When you have a screw on tire issue, and the tire rotates, the screw penetrates deeper and deeper with every tire revolution.

When you get a screw into a tire, it doesn’t mean you have to have the tire replaced, it just means you need a tire patch.

What To Do When You Get Screw In Tire

When you get a screw in a tire, do not worry. You won’t need to get the tire replaced. The first thing you want to do is make sure the screw actually punctured the tread. A lot of times, screws bury into the tread, but don’t actually do any damage.

To check if the screw has actually punctured the tire, don’t remove the screw just yet. Instead, spray some soapy water over the screw. If you see some bubbles appear, this means the nail has punctured the tread. If you don’t see any bubbles bubbling out, this means the nail did not puncture the tread.

If you do see bubbles, this means it's time to take action before your slow leak turns into a flat tire. Bubbles signify that the tire is losing air pressure through the leak at the nail puncture location.

It’s not smart to drive on a tire with low tire pressure since it can do damage to the tire, so your best bet is to put your spare tire on and take the punctured tire to a repair shop. If the nail is within the tread area, the tire shop should repair the tire. If the nail is on the tire shoulder, you might have to get a new tire since it’s illegal to fix tires with puncture wounds on the tire shoulder area.

You can also get the tire plugged yourself. This involves having a tire plugging kit and some knowledge of the process which will be outlined below. Both front wheels and rear wheels are both susceptible to damages from screws. As wheels pass over screws, it’s a 50/50 chance of whether or not it will puncture your tire.

So it’s best to avoid areas where nails and screws are present, mainly construction sites. Nail punctures are very common in these areas. As well, road debris can cause tire punctures too. Getting a screw in your tire is more likely to happen in one of these areas as there’s lots of debris, nails, and screws.

So when you see them on the road, try to drive around them.

How To Plug A Tire

Plugging a tire is pretty straight forward. If you’ve never done it before, it’s best to have someone who's done it watch you. Because if you mess up, you have the potential to be stranded with a flat. Here are the steps to plug a tire.

  • First, locate the puncture in the tire. If it's a small puncture caused by a nail or screw, it should be easy to spot.
  • Next, remove the object that caused the puncture using pliers.
  • Use a tire repair kit that contains a tire plug, insertion tool, and lubricant. Insert the tool into the puncture hole and push it in as far as it will go.
  • Thread the tire plug through the eye of the insertion tool, making sure the plug is centered.
  • Pull the insertion tool back out of the puncture hole, leaving the tire plug in the hole.
  • Use a pair of scissors to trim the excess plug sticking out of the tire, making sure it's flush with the tread.
  • Check the tire pressure and adjust it if necessary.
  • Test the repaired tire by driving slowly and checking for leaks.

This is the universal way of plugging a tire. Plugging a tire has its advantages over patching a tire. Patching a tire requires you to dismount the tire, which isn’t an option for everyone. So plugging a tire is something you can do at home.

Calling Roadside Assistance

Calling roadside assistance when you get a flat can help, but not much. This is because the company will not fix a flat on the side of the road. All the company will do is put a spare tire on. With the spare tire, you will be able to drive to a repair shop and have the tire patched.

Most repair shops choose to patch tires, as they are a more reliable way to fix a tire puncture. Tire patches provide a more solid seal of the puncture than a plug will, but they require special equipment such as a tire machine and a buffing tool.

For a nail in the tire, it’s best to take some action and take care of the issue yourself by placing the spare on the car yourself and taking the defunct tire to a shop yourself, or to plug the tire yourself. But if you cannot do any of these, call roadside assistance and they will be able to lead you in the right direction.

How Does A Screw Get In A Tire?

About The Author

Christopher Sparks

Christopher Sparks

Christopher Sparks has been servicing vehicles since 2012. After completing the automotive studies program at Camden County College, he was awarded an Associates's Degree in Applied Science. His first job was a lube-tech at Jiffy Lube, and is currently an independent B-Technician servicing vehicles for the United States Postal Service. Christopher is ASE certified and loves rebuilding engines.

Read more about Christopher Sparks