Screw Or Nail In Tire: What To Do?

A screw in the tire is one of a vehicle owners’ worst nightmares. While it costs money to repair or replace the tire, it could also compromise your safety.

Yet, you may not easily avoid instances like this when driving. Roads have scattered sharp items such as glass shards, nails, and screws that can create a hole in the tire.

Unlike other sharp objects, screws can bring more damage to the tire. Without immediate and proper repair, the tire can be unusable, making you spend money on a new one.

So, how should you deal with this situation, then? What are the crucial measures you should take in managing and repairing tire punctures involving screws? Read on to know more.

A Screw In Tire

How Does a Screw “Screw” Your Tires

Before anything, let’s distinguish between tire punctures that involve screws and those caused by nails.

Among all sharp objects that can potentially pierce your tire, screws can give more severe damage. Just compare the shape between a regular nail and screw, and you’ll see the difference between these objects.

Unlike a polished and slender shank and tip, screws are plugged on the rubber through its thread and head. Continuous tire use further widens the hole, resulting in a flat or blown-up tire that repair services cannot fix.

You should also take the screw’s size and length relative to the puncture into account. Smaller screws cause a small leak that slows down your speed, but larger ones will quickly damage tires, making them unusable.

According to the Tire Industry Association, tire punctures of more than six millimeters are unrepairable.

In addition, if the tire tread depth is only at 2/32 inches in any area, this means that the tire is no longer safe for driving. Thus, it would be best if you replace it right away.

Another thing to look for is the location of the puncture. It matters when the screw is plugged either on the tire’s tread or the shoulder and sidewall.

In this case, tire punctures in the middle of the tread are still fixable. But, repairing holes in the shoulder and sidewalls of the tire is not possible.

You can refer to this tire graphic below as a guide.

How to Deal with A Screw In Tire

Sloppily removing a screw by yourself can make matters worse and can eventually lead to a tire failure. If you’re unsure what to do with the damage, always refer to professional tire repair services for assistance.

How Can Screws Puncture Your Tire?

There are various reasons why screws — and by extension, other sharp objects such as nails and glass pieces — get punctured on our tires. Some of these are merely incidental due to various road situations.

For instance, driving over scattered screws is the most common reason for having punctured tires. It primarily affects wheels at the rear of vehicles after hitting a screw flipped by front tires.

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The damage will depend on the size of the screw and the thickness of the tire. Smaller screws often pierce with minor damage, but larger ones may entail risks due to punctures.

In addition, vehicles can puncture their tires through scattered planks that may have exposed screws. Driving over them can separate the screw from the plank, but it can stick on the tire.

Location and environment can also be a factor. Journalist Gil Smart noted in an article that pieces of construction materials scattered in South Florida led to the frequent occurrence of punctured tires in the area in 2018.

Oddly enough, there are also instances of punctured screws on tires that are deliberate. You may see these more often on television soaps, but there will be people who will intentionally puncture your tire.

Regardless of knowing or not knowing the culprit, it would help if you closely inspect your vehicle tires and types before use.

A Guide To Different Types Of Tires

What To Do With A Screw Damaged Tire?

Before doing any action regarding your screw-punctured tire, you should first assess whether it needs repair or replacement. You should take the location and severity of the damage into account.

Replacement is the more viable option if the damage is on the shoulder or sidewall of the tire. This is because repairs on the said tire parts may lead to further deflation, making it more unsafe to use.

You should also consider the above option if the puncture is deep or worn out. The Tire Industry Association does not recommend repairs for holes that exceed six millimeters (¼ inch) or those having a 2/32 tread depth.

Another thing to consider is the repair history of the tire. If this is the case for your tire, replacing it with a newer one is highly recommended.

If the screw puncture is shallow and on the tire tread, you can do some do-it-yourself procedures to address the damage.

Here’s a video guide to decide whether you need repair or replacement for your tire.


How To Remove Screw In Tire?

The first thing to do is to detect the location of the puncture. It should be visible from outside the vehicle. Still, you can also apply soap to the tire and look for bubbles that signify air release.

After determining the damaged portion, carefully remove the screw from the tire with a screwdriver or pliers. You will eventually hear air releasing from the puncture.

Next is to clean the puncture with a T-handle reamer and insert rubber cement with a plug. This will make the hole filled with rubber, preventing more air from releasing from the tire.

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The rubber should have a ⅛th amount of excess that is exposed outside the tire. After drying for a few minutes, cut the excessive rubber cement plug.

Below is a video guide on the first procedure after detecting the puncture. The following section will also elaborate on the process.

Steps in Fixing a Punctured Tire

The following are some important steps in removing the screw from the tire and temporarily blocking the hole.

Look for the punctured screw

Unless the puncture is evident from your view, apply soapy water across the tires and let bubbles form to indicate the hole. In addition, inspect other parts with soap for other potential damages.

Separate the screw from the punctured wheel

Pull out the nail or screw from the wheel using a screwdriver or plier.

Clean excess rubber from the puncture

As soon as you hear air coming out of the hole, use a reamer to remove excess rubber formerly attached to the screw.

Insert rubber plug

Get the rubber cement plug and insert it into the hole using a plugger. Let some remains of the plug be exposed outside the piercing.

You should dry the rubber cement plug for a couple of minutes. After that, cut the exposed rubber from the portions inside the hole.

But, it is worth noting that the above procedure mitigates the effects of a punctured tire. This is also the case for repairs that involve patches.

In this case, according to Bridgestone Americas Inc., repairs using both tire plugging and patching are the appropriate procedure.

Otherwise, if the tire is severely damaged, consider purchasing a new one, as well as a spare tire.

Steps in Fixing a Punctured Tire

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to drive my car with a screw in the tire?

No. As you feel something wrong with the tire and have observed the hole or puncture, remove it immediately. Driving with a screw attached or pieced to the tire may lead to further damage to the tire.

Not to mention, it can pose certain risks to you and other motorists and commuters within your vicinity.

Depending on the damage, you may need to repair or replace the tire. As soon as you detect something wrong, park the car on the side of the road and look for possible damages.

How Long Can You Drive With A Screw In Your Tire?

In the case of shorter screws, you can still be able to drive continuously. Besides, longer screws are detectable within ten miles after a puncture.

After initial removal and fixing, you can fill the air on the tires for driving for a couple of weeks before proper repair. This is still different if the damage is on the shoulder and sidewall of the tire.

What happens if I get a screw in my tire?

Continuous driving with a screw in your tire can lead to the widening of the puncture. This will also lead to a release of air which will affect the smoothness of your travel.

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Prolonged attachment of the screw in the tire, shallow or deeply penetrated, can damage the tire. As the screw has threads, it will wear off the rubber, resulting in a bigger hole in the tire.

The damage may also worsen if the puncture is located at the shoulder and sidewall of the tire. This means that you may need to replace your tire.

Should I pull the screw out of the tire?

Yes, and you should do it immediately. If you need better tools or the puncture is too deep, you can call a repair service directly.

In addition, you should also refer to repair service rather than attempting to fix it yourself. The latter will only lead to more damages to the tire.

How long will a screw stay in a tire?

Short screws attached to wheels are manageable but are still needed to be removed. Longer screws require more urgent removal.

You can still bear the screw piercing up until ten miles into your drive with a longer screw. After that, you’ll notice the effects, which means you already need to look for the damage.

Can a screw flatten a tire?

Yes. Whether we’re talking about shallow punctures or deeply penetrated screws, both can lead to a release of air.

Shallow punctured screws take more time to widen up the hole to decrease the tire’s air pressure. Meanwhile, deeply penetrated screws are on the verge of further wear-and-tear of the rubber.

As long as you hear a hiss on the tires, it would be best to use some temporary fixes first. Then, proceed to the nearest repair service center for further fixing.

How big of a hole can be patched in a tire?

Like tire plugs, a tire patch can be applied in a puncture within the tire tread and is not larger than 0.25 inches. Damages outside the tire tread and have a bigger hole should not be repaired by plugs or patches.


Tire punctures from sharp objects such as nails and screws are somewhat inevitable to spot or avoid. Factoring in the location, environment, and road condition, tires are prone to such damages.

There are ways to address the damage early on. As much as possible, regularly check for punctures and holes and other debris that may damage the quality of the tires.

The most important procedure is to be urgent after detecting potential damage. Shrugging it off may only lead to further injuries and risks for you, the tire, and other motorists.

Lastly, while fixing the tires yourself can be done, do not hesitate to refer to professional repair services for assistance.

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