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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.

Top Pick

This assortment contains everything you need to to fix your wheels. Tooluxe

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.

Great Value

This selection is simple, but complete. BETOOLL

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.

Easy to Use

This chemical instantly repairs up to 1/4-inch diameter holes. Slime

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.