Flat tires are just part of life in a car. Some people experience them more than others, but almost all drivers have to deal with a flat tire at the end of a drive at some point. When this happens, a good tire repair kit is a great option instead of just swapping out the deflated rubber for a spare or trying to drive on a tubeless tire. Some kits even make it easy to permanently fix a tire.
Why Buy a Tire Repair Kit
- Create a temporary tire fix. In most cases, tire repair kits are designed for a temporary fix, meaning the puncture repair should hold long enough to get the car to a garage for a permanent replacement. This makes a kit a good alternative to a traditional spare, especially when multiple tires are flat.
- Save money on replacements. A puncture isn’t necessarily the end of a tire. While larger holes tend to require an actual replacement, smaller punctures can be effectively sealed with the correct kit. When done right, the permanent fix can be more than enough to keep the tire running until normal wear warrants a replacement.
- Learn a new skill. Tire repair isn’t a skill just for drivers. Anything with rubber tires, from bikes to wheel barrels, can experience a flat. In most cases, the repair process is the same. This means the skills you learn by using a simple repair kit can be applied to different types of vehicles.
Types of Tire Repair Kits
STRING PLUG/TIRE PATCH
Repair kits that come with string plugs and tire patches make up the bulk of what’s available on the market. A string plug is literally a piece of string that goes into the hole. Using a special insert tool, you can position the string so it’s soft body fills in the gaps and blocks air from escaping out of the tire. Tire patches work in a similar fashion by covering the entire span of the puncture. Both of these options tend to be very effective for larger punctures.
Using a liquid sealant, this type of repair kit is extremely user-friendly. The sealant is often designed to dry out of the bottle so it creates a physical barrier to block the hole. Most sealant formulas work well for smaller punctures.
Top Brands of Tire Repair Kits
Unlike some automotive accessory manufacturers, Slime is a company focused solely on tire repair. Well-known for its bike tire sealant products, Slime specializes in liquid tire repair using a liquid sealant that dries on contact with air. Beyond bike tires, the company makes a few options for automotive use like the Slime 1034-A Repair Kit.
As a company with a lot of experience in creating automotive parts, Smittybilt is no stranger to making products that are reliable and effective. While the bulk of the company’s product line is centered around upgrade and offroading parts, the company also makes several accessories that are helpful to anyone driving on the road. The company’s tire repair kit options include the 2733 Repair Kit.
Tire Repair Kit Pricing
- $25 and under: Budget tire repair kits tend to be small and focused on the most important components needed to fix a flat. Typically, these include a few string plugs and a couple of T-handle tools to insert the plug into place without doing more damage to the tire.
- $25-$50: Larger kits tend to make up the bulk of this price range. These kits come with either more string plugs or additional tools like hex keys, set screws, and pliers for different types of tires and repairs.
- $50 and above: Any kits above $50 tend to come with higher-quality components and additional accessories that can make tire repair quicker and easier. Air compressors, for example, are a common addition that often needs to be purchased separately with more affordable kits.
The most important part of any heavy-duty tire repair kit is the air safety seal itself. Plugs and liquid sealants are the most common types that can effectively handle small or medium punctures in a tire. The right choice will depend on the size of the puncture and the durability of the fix you need. Liquid sealant is a good temporary solution for anything really small, but larger punctures needing a more permanent fix are better served by string plugs.
To apply a sealer, specialty tools will be required. For string plugs, a basic insert tool (normally a T-handle needle-like tool) is needed to position the string into the hole to seal up any spaces where air could escape. A good set of pliers is also necessary to remove the source of the puncture. Higher-end kits often come with extra accessories like air compressors and a pressure gauge as well.
Multi-piece tire repair kits require a case to keep everything together. Basic plastic cases with molded interiors to keep each tool in place are very common. The price of the kit tends to reflect the quality of the case. Budget kits, for example, tend to have low-quality, flexible plastic cases that offer only basic protection.
- Size: The size of a tire repair kit depends on the number of included components or pieces. More pieces offer more versatility in general, but there is always the risk of having tools you will never use for a higher price. As a result, smaller kits are great to start with if you don’t have a tire kit or much experience with one. Choose something larger only if you know you need the extra tools.