Tire Sealant Review: Heroes on the Road and Those Who Crush It - Consumer Reports (2023)

Aflat tireIt's always uncomfortable and often dangerous, with the risk of losing control while driving or a collision during a roadside repair. Adding to the drama, many new cars don't even come with a spare tire. For many drivers, the best tools for fixing a flat tire are a phone, a roadside assistance membership, and a spare tire or tire sealant kit that can be used to repair small punctures and reinflate the flat tire. There are also aftermarket sealants. They typically run from around $10 for a pressurized can to around $80 for a complete kit that includes a portable tire inflator, making them an attractive addition to a car emergency kit. However, our tests show that not all tire repair kits work as expected. It's a shame because they show promise and the alternatives come with real compromises.

It's important for drivers these days to have a plan to deal with a flat tire before it happens. Reviewing Consumer Reports test car records dating back to the 2017 model year, about 62 percent were equipped with a temporary replacement part, 15 percent with a seal kit and 11 percent with run-flat tires. and no replacement. Only 9 percent came with a full-size spare tire, the only solution that allows you to continue your journey without stopping at a service center for professional repair or a new tire. (If you have a spare tire, check and adjust the air pressure regularly, otherwise it could go flat if necessary.)

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Runflat tires sound great conceptually. If they have a flat tire, they offer extended mobility in runflat mode at reduced speed and for a limited distance, as a temporary spare tire, without the need to change tires. But punctures can usually contribute to a firmer ride and are often expensive to replace and hard to find in a hurry.

Which brings us back to sealant kits. The promise is that you can quickly and easily carry out a temporary repair if you get a small puncture in your tire, e.g. B. if you walk over a nail. No need to ask for help or pay for an expensive tow truck. Simply attach the nozzle of a pressurized can of sealant and essentially spray a gooey substance onto the tire covering the puncture. The air in the can would at least partially fill the tire so you could slowly drive the car to a shop for a professional patch or tire change. A complete kit would allow the tire to be inflated to its maximum operating pressure.

These products have been on the market for years, but their appeal is growing as automakers reduce spare tires on new cars to reduce weight while pursuing fuel efficiency goals.

Types of tire sealants

To see how the latest products perform, the Consumer Reports tire team tested seven common sealant models in three different types. Each is available in stores and online, and we purchased multiple samples of each for the project.

pressure can sealers($7 to $20), like the ubiquitous Fix-a-Flat, are single-use products that have a dispensing tube that screws into a tire's air inflation valve. The sealants we buy are meant to seal a puncture and partially inflate the tire.

Tire Sealant Kits($24-$80) combines a 12-volt portable air compressor and a replaceable canister of sealant. Many new cars ship this type of kit in lieu of a spare tire.

liquid tire sealant($9-$14) is a liquid sealant that is poured through a tire/wheel valve stem and then inflated with an air compressor that is not included.

Core items:
No attempt should be made to repair a hole larger than 6mm in diameter or a cut or hole in a side wall with these products. Your only option is to replace the tire with this type of damage.

If you use tire sealant, the tire should be professionally repaired or replaced as soon as possible, usually within 100 miles or as directed by the product.

The sealant coats the inside of the tire and wheel with a dirty residue that a tire shop has to remove, possibly at extra cost. If equipped, you can damage the Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensor (TPMS) and risk getting erroneous readings. Most products explicitly state that they are TPMS safe.

Please note that some sealing products have an expiration date and therefore need to be replaced regularly even if not used.

Should you buy a tire sealant?

In a pinch, a pressurized can of sealant can fix a small puncture and allow the car to hobble to the tire shop for a full repair or tire change, assuming you have a compressor to boost tire pressure. The best investment is a tire sealant kit that can repair a flat tire and inflate it to the recommended pressure listed on your car's tire information placard on the driver's side door jamb. Also, assorted kits can be safely stored in the car, even in a hot car. On vacation or on a busy day, you can continue your journey with a compressor tire repair kit. They may cost more, but in our experience, the price is worth it.

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There are limitations to what can be repaired with a sealing product. A large hole, multiple holes or a tear in the sidewall may be beyond the capabilities of these products. Ultimately, spare tires and run-flat tires are the best alternatives. When shopping for a car, it pays to check out what it has to offer. In many cases, you may be able to pay more to add a spare tire.

"Based on these tests, I would buy a supercharged tire repair kit to keep in the trunk," said Ryan Pszczolkowski, a Consumer Reports tire technician. "But a real spare tire is an unbeatable solution to any tire problem."

Read on to see our results. And see below how we tested it.

Tire Seal Kit Reviews

Tire Sealant Review: Heroes on the Road and Those Who Crush It - Consumer Reports (1)

Photo: John Powers/Consumer Reports Photo: John Powers/Consumer Reports

Tire sealant kits contain a can of sealant and a compressor that work together. The sealant connects to the tire via a bolt-on hose, and the compressor connects to a 12-volt accessory outlet. In most kits, the compressor forces air into the flat tire through a bottle of tire sealant.

Unlike pressurized cans of sealant, these kits can inflate a truly flat tire to the recommended pressure. And since the sealant is not pressurized before use, you can keep the kit in your car. (Pressurized cans may explode if left in a hot car.)

Another advantage is that when you are not using the compressor to pump sealant into a flat tire, the compressor can inflate other car tires, garden and recreation equipment, boat trailer tires, etc.

The tire sealant kits we reviewed are considered safe for tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). (We did not verify this in our review.) Each has its own usage policies. For example, tires repaired with airMan kits must be limited to 120 miles of travel at speeds not to exceed 50 mph. The Slime Smart Spar Emergency Tire Repair Kit recommends temporary use of no more than 100 miles or 3 days from the date the tires are repaired and the Slime Digital Series Tire Repair Kit claims that use it is limited to 500 miles according to the Slime website.

All proved to be effective solutions for large punctures, with the exception of the Slime Digital Series puncture repair kit, which only worked well with the smallest hole size.

airMan ResQ Pro +

This kit sealed the large 5.8mm hole and inflated the tire faster than other units. Easy to use, the airMan ResQ Pro+ comes in a self-contained package that requires no assembly and comes with a carrying case. He was the team's favourite.

Where to buy:Grainger

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airMan ResQ tire repair kit

This lower-priced airMan kit worked similarly to the airMan ResQ Pro+, but requires mounting the sealant canister to the compressor. We think the extra money to buy ResQ Pro+ is worth it as you may need to use this product in less than ideal conditions, e.g. B. On a dark and rainy night, by the side of the road. In addition, you will have to disassemble it to put it back in its case. Spend the extra money.

Where to buy: amazonas

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Slime Smart Spaar Emergency Puncture Repair Kit

Costing less than its qualifying competitors, this kit seals the large 5.8mm bore with ease. However, it requires removing the valve core from the tire with a supplied hand tool, then injecting the sealant through the valve stem, reinstalling the valve core, and then inflating the tire with the compressor. Removing the tiny valve core adds an element of risk that it will be difficult to remove and may be misplaced on the curb during the repair. It is more cumbersome than airMan products. In our opinion, the savings do not justify the concession.

Preis:$24 bis $40
Where to buy: Ace-Hardware,auto parts advance,amazonas,booger,sports camp,walmart

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Slime Digital Series Tire Puncture Repair Kit

As the name suggests, this kit comes with a digital pressure gauge on the compressor unit. (A cheaper model with a dial indicator is also available, but we didn't review it.) No need to remove the valve core as with the less expensive Slime Safety Spaar puncture repair kit. As with airMan products, the sealant flows through the compressor and into the tire. Results from this kit were mixed. Our first attempt to seal a 5.8mm puncture was unsuccessful. The tire leaked after filling it with sealant and almost completely deflated within 24 hours. We retested with a new tire and after a 50 mile ride had better results with only a slight loss of pressure. We checked the pressure 24 hours later and found the tire to be 10 psi below the recommended 35 psi. We then tested a third time using a 2.4mm hole and found the kit to seal the smaller hole with ease. Based on our experience, we would go for one of the airMan kits.

Preis:$35 a $55
Where to buy: amazonas,automatic zone,walmart

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Liquid Tire Sealant Reviews

Liquid tire sealant is inexpensive, but you'll need an air compressor or portable tire inflator to inflate a tire after applying the sealant. Best as a backup at home.

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Slime Tire Sealant Thru-Core Technology

The sealant failed to seal a 5.8mm puncture, but we were successful with a smaller 2.4mm puncture. This is an inexpensive solution for small flat tires, as long as you have and carry a portable tire inflator. But due to its limitations we would look into a kit or a siphon sealer.

Preis:$9 a $14
Where to buy: Ace-Hardware,automatic zone,walmart

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Pressure Can Sealer

The biggest advantage of spray sealants is that they are widely available and cheap. They're only $6 to $12 for a can, which is designed to fit most car tires. For a few dollars more, 18- and 20-ounce cans are available to repair tires on larger trucks and SUVs.

fix a flat

Fix-a-Flat has become synonymous with a pressure can sealer. These products are widely used, but their test results have been disappointing. Fix-a-Flat was able to seal the smallest 2.4mm puncture in 24 hours with little pressure loss. However, he was unable to seal the 5.8mm puncture and inflate the tire without filling it with a compressor. It's easy to use, but performance limits its usefulness. (Larger cans for trucks and SUVs are a few dollars more.)

Preis:$8 a $20
Where to buy: amazonas,automatic zone,fix a flat,heimdepot,Meta,walmart

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Super Tech Tire Sealant & Filler

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Walmart's Super Tech Tire Sealant and Inflator is easily the most affordable product we've tested. And his performance did not deliver. It was easy to use, but could not effectively seal a 2.4mm or 5.8mm nail puncture. The tin does not specify what size hole it would seal. When asked, Walmart did not tell us what size hole it can seal. As with the Fix-a-Flat product, a compressor was needed to increase tire pressure up to the car's recommended pressure.

When we asked the retailer about this product, which bears the Walmart brand, a spokeswoman wrote: "Walmart uses accredited third-party laboratories to validate that all regulatory and compliance requirements are met, as well as test product performance." We received from Consumer Reports as a result of their performance testing for this article gave us the opportunity to further review our records to further improve our testing methodology."

We recommend considering one of the other products reviewed over this inexpensive sealant.

Where to buy: walmart

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how we tested

Most of the products we tested claim to seal punctures up to 6mm in diameter, though others make no particular claim. Product testing was conducted on new tires with a 5.8mm diameter nail puncture that caused the tire to go flat. We then tried to seal the puncture per the product instructions.

Testing was done with 16-inch Sentury Touring all-season tires installed on our 2015 Toyota Camry.

We use a 5.8mm diameter nail. (Some products were evaluated with a smaller 2.4mm diameter nail when they failed to seal the hole of the larger 5.8mm diameter nail.) The nails were welded to a flat metal plate. The Camry was spike-lowered from a hoist to deliver consistent flat tire in the same area of ​​tread for all ratings. Once the tire was deflated, it was sealed and inflated to the recommended 35psi, then driven a short distance to coat the inside of the tire with sealant. Tire pressure was checked again, and if no pressure loss was measured, we drove 50 miles, parked the car overnight, and checked tire pressure the next day.

The results

Our evaluation clearly showed that tire sealant kits were far superior to pressure canister sealants. They could seal a major puncture and have a compressor to inflate the flat tire to the recommended 35psi tire pressure for our Toyota Camry.

Pressurized can products could only inflate the tire to less than a quarter of the recommended pressure. Also, they couldn't seal the same 5.8mm hole as the tire seal kits; Tires continue to deflate after applying sealant.

If you plan to use a pressurized product, it is a good idea to have an air compressor on hand to inflate the tire to the recommended inflation pressure. Additionally, the aerosol products we reviewed caution against storing in a car for temperature concerns; This could limit its use to your input.

Liquid tire sealant is essentially a pressurized can that feeds sealant through the tire valve, but lacks the ability to inflate the tire. It is necessary to have a compressor on hand to complete the repair. We found that this product, like the spray products, cannot seal a 5.8mm nail hole.

Products were most successful with the 2.4mm hole made with a final nail. Both the pressurized Fix-a-Flat can and the Slime Liquid Sealant held pressure to within 1 psi, a negligible loss after 24 hours. The Super Tech siphon product failed to completely seal the puncture, and the tire gave up 7.6 psi in the same time limit. Similar to the first test with the larger frame stud, neither product had enough pressure to inflate a tire to our 35psi pressure without recharging with a compressor.

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gene petersen

Because I took the tires off my toy as a kid, my mom thought I was going to be a trucker, not a tire test engineer for over three decades and counting. I still marvel at how complex and durable the tires are and how much they add to the performance and safety of the car. When I'm not obsessed with tires, I enjoy carpentry, gardening, and just being outdoors whenever I can.


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