Three Things To Consider When Shopping For A Tire Repair Kit

A quality tire repair kit can save you time, money and a lot of frustration if or when you have a flat on your car, truck, motorcycle or ATV.

tire iron on a wheel
It's a real bad idea to go offroad without carrying a tire repair kit.Neonbrand via Unsplash

You just had a flat tire and now have a decision to make. Sure, you can change your tire on the roadside, then to take your damaged tire to the shop tomorrow—if they’re not closed, and if they’re not too busy and if they feel like they have time to mess with you. Or you can do it yourself with a good tire repair kit that contains everything you need to get the job done right. All tire repair kits are not created equal, however. To make a good selection when shopping for a tire repair kit, consider three important factors—whether you want to patch the tire, plug the tire or use a bottled sealing agent to seal the hole.

Patches

Flat Tire Plug Tubeless Kit
This kit has everything you need to repair your flat tire, including needle-nosed pliers and a tire gauge.Amazon

Tires can be repaired in three different ways—patching, plugging or inserting sealant into them to seal the leak until you can get it to a shop. Patches are what professional tire technicians usually use at a repair shop if you take your tire there to get it fixed. While patches offer the best quality repair, to use them you have to be able to take the tire off the wheel and then remount it afterward. Since most people don't have a tire machine or wheel balancer at home, they look for another method of tire repair that is easier to accomplish without specialized tools. But if you do have access to such equipment, patching is the best solution.

Plugs

BETOOLL Tire Repair Kit
This plug kit allows you plug tubeless tires on cars, trucks, motorcycles, SUVs and other vehicles.Amazon

Short of patching, plugging a flat tire is the next best solution, especially if it is a small puncture hole from a nail or screw. Plugs can be installed without removing the tire, making them the quickest, easiest fix. Your plug kit should have two T-handles, one with an eye and one without. To plug the tire, insert the T-handle without the eye into the hole and push it in and out a couple of times. Then, thread the plug material through the eye on the other T-handle, push the T-handle eye into the hole in the tire where you can no longer see the plug and pull it back out, tightly filling the puncture hole. Trim off the loose ends and you're ready to air up the tire and go on your way. One note: Make sure the plug kit you buy is advertised as permanent. Some are designed to be temporary and the repair has limited durability.

Sealant

Slime Emergency Tire Repair Sealant
This simple tire sealant is easy to use and can help you get your car home or to the shop in a pinch.Amazon

Everyone should carry a can of tire sealant in their vehicle with them and know how to use it if the situation arises. In a nutshell, tire sealants are sprayed into the valve and coat the inside of the flat tire on the tread area, allowing the product to seal punctures. When utilized, the escaping air carries the sealant to the puncture. The liquid portion of the sealant escapes, but the fibers and binders build up and intertwine to form a flexible plug. This allows immediate sealing of punctures in the tread area. Note that some people recommend against using sealants because they might clog your tire pressure management system or plug your valve stem, so use caution. But sometimes you've just got to do what you've got to do to get back on the road safely.