Tire Repair Kit Buying Guide 2023

A flat tire can keep you from getting where you need to be on time, and installing a spare tire comes with challenges that feel like more hassle than they’re worth. Luckily, fixing a flat tire is one of the least expensive services or repairs that can be performed at a shop, and it’s even less costly if you’re able to do it yourself.

There are a handful of methods to repair a tire, and you’ll find many of the products as all-in-one kits. In this article, you’ll find out more about the types of products to fix a tire, what to consider, and some of the best tire repair kit options on the market, available at AutoZone.

Types of Tire Repair Kits

What types of repair products are there for your average automotive tire? Three types of tire repair kits are widely available including:

  • Tire plug kits
  • Tire patch kits
  • Combination plug-patch kits
  • And sealant kits.

A plug kit typically consists of rubber plugs, an insertion tool, and a reamer. The plugs are inserted into the hole in the tire and then trimmed off flush with the tread. Plugging a tire can help prevent further damage to the tire and they install quickly without dismounting the tire, but there are always limitations. They’re only good on holes about 1/8-inch or less in diameter, and there’s a chance they can get pushed out as you drive.

A patch kit consists of flat patches that are applied to the inside of the tire on the liner. They include an abrasive tool, adhesive, and rubber patches. They’re usually more durable than plugs alone since they’re applied inside with rubber cement that’s cured, but you need to have the equipment to dismount and remount the tire and reinflate it. It also takes quite a bit longer to do.

Sealant kits are normally a pressurized can of liquid adhesive that’s pushed into the tire through the valve stem. It coats the liner and seals holes from the inside, and they’re fast to use. However, sealant leaves a sticky mess inside the tire that needs to be cleaned up for a permanent repair, and it can destroy valve stems and tire pressure sensors. They’re great for emergencies, though.

The only DOT-approved tire repair kit, though, is one that includes a combination plug-patch. It fills the void in the tire tread while permanently patching it from the inside. It takes the longest to complete, naturally, but the tire is considered roadworthy afterward.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Tire Repair Kit

What should you look for in a tire repair kit? These criteria can help you make the best choice.

  • The type of puncture. If the hole is small like a staple or a small-gauge screw, a patch or plug can suffice. A cut in the tire may require something like a plug or plug-patch to fill the void.
  • Ease of use. If you don’t have access to shop equipment to remove, install, and balance a tire, then a plug from the outside or a tire sealant kit might be the right choice.
  • Durability. The best, longest-lasting option is a combination plug-patch. Aside from that, the best option is a patch from the inside when it comes to lasting.
  • Cost. While none of the options are overly expensive, many kits come with enough plugs for multiple repairs if needed. Sealant is costlier since each can is one-time use.

Lastly, only use sealant as a last-ditch effort. There’s a good chance you’ll need to replace the tire if you use it, or you may need a new TPMS sensor, valve stem, and an expensive rim cleaning too. 

Recommended Tire Repair Kit products

What should you use to fix a tire? Here are five of the best tire repair kit options at AutoZone.

Slime Patches with Glue, Scuffer Box Kit 56 Piece

When you’re in need of a tire patch, this kit has enough to fix tires many, many times over. The Slime Patches Kit includes 56 patches of various sizes, two tubes of adhesive to ensure it sticks, and the abrasive pad to rough up and clean the surface first. They’re not a DOT-approved solution, and you’ll need to have the tools and patience to pull the tire from the rim to use them.

X-tra Seal Large Plug Patch

When you want to fix a fair-sized hole permanently, these X-tra Seal Large Plug Patches are a go-to solution. It comes 15 to a package so you’ll be well-stocked for at least a few years, and they have a spiky sheath to push the plug through the puncture. They can be used anywhere on the flat tread section, but avoid the shoulder and sidewall. Like a basic patch, they need to be installed from the inside.

X-tra Seal Radial Repair Oval Patch

When the leak is from a slice or larger hole, you need a larger patch that’s able to withstand some miles of driving if necessary. These X-tra Seal Radial Repair Oval Patches are 2 7/8” long by 5/8” wide to provide structure and stability for the bigger holes. They’re not intended for a permanent repair, but they can help you get to the shop or to safety.

Great Neck Tire Plug Kit

Arguably the fastest way to fix a tire is the tire plug, and the Great Neck Tire Repair Kit gives you 30 plugs plus the reamer, installer, and lubricant to do the job. The 4-inch plugs stay flexible indefinitely to seal the hole, and it can be used while the tire is still mostly inflated – obviously, without taking it off the rim. A tire plug should always be replaced with a permanent option later on, and too much reaming can hurt the cords, so extreme care should always be exercised with this type of repair.

Fix-a-Flat Tire Inflator

The original Fix-a-Flat Tire Inflator is still around, and it still seals punctures up to 1/4-inch in diameter. It can seal and inflate a tire in seconds, and then it’s reported to clean out of the tire easily. It won’t fully inflate the tire, but it should give enough inflation to get you somewhere safe to finish it up. Your tire might be out of balance and make the steering shake after, and there’s potential to damage the TPMS sensor, but it can be a fantastic emergency repair option.

When you’re after the best tire repair kit, an AutoZone near you has what you’re looking for. Get your parts fast in-store, or order online and get them at your convenience.

FAQ/People Also Ask

What are the different types of tire repair kits available?

There are patches, plugs, combination plug-patches, and sealants available.

How do I use a tire repair kit?

It depends on the kit. Some inject a sealant into the tire, some require a plug to be pushed into the tread, while others need to be installed from inside the tire.

Can I use a tire repair kit on any type of tire?

Not always. Some are intended for tubes while others are meant for tubeless tires. And not all tire repair options are rated for highway use, but are meant for emergency fixes.

How many times can I use a tire repair kit?

It depends on the number of patches or plugs provided. Many offer 15 to 30 patches or plugs, and sometimes more.

Can I repair a sidewall puncture with a tire repair kit?

A sidewall puncture is deemed unrepairable and the tire needs to be replaced. It’s possible a tire repair kit can help you get somewhere safe, but it’s not recommended to drive your car with a bad sidewall.

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Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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