Best tire repair kits to fix that unexpected flat

by | Oct 19, 2022

best tire repair kits

With the growing popularity of run-flat tires, aren’t as much of a necessity these days. But if your vehicle isn’t equipped with run-flat tires and you’re a DIY’er, it’s not a bad idea to own a tire repair kit. Depending on the severity and location of your puncture, these kits should be able to plug up your tire so you can safely get home or to a tire shop. In some cases, it’ll do a good enough repair that you can continue driving on that tire for the rest of its life.

It may seem daunting, but are relatively easy to use and in most instances, you won’t have to remove the wheel and tire off your vehicle. Most kits use plugs to repair the puncture and those are the ones we recommend. Tire patch kits require you to dismount the wheel from the tire, and that’s not something easily done by the average car owner. At that point, you’re better off going to a tire repair shop and either replacing the tire or having them patch it for you.

One thing you’ll notice when shopping for a tire repair kit is that many of them are very similar. Most kits include the same set of tools and plugs to get you back on the road. Knowing that, we chose the best based on the brand’s quality and reputation, user reviews, and in some cases, first-hand experience using the kit. You’ll want quality tools that won’t break while plugging your tire, and quality plugs that keeps the puncture from leaking again.

1. Top pick: Boulder Tools heavy duty tire repair kit


  • Comprehensive kit
  • Heavy duty plugs
  • Lifetime warranty


  • Expensive
  • Some quality control issues

This is an actual kit I’ve used in the past to plug one of my punctured tires and is the kit a friend of mine keeps at his shop. He hasn’t had to use it very frequently, but when he has, it has done the job well and the tools have held up. It’s from Boulder Tools and it’s designed to repair flats on any tubeless tire.

Included with the kit are heavy-duty brown strings that the company says are much stronger than the strings found in other kits. But more importantly, Boulder Tools offers a lifetime warranty on this tire repair kit. While it is more expensive than our other recommendations, we feel the lifetime warranty justifies the price. It is worth mentioning since this kit (and many others) are manufactured overseas, you might run into some quality control issues. If so, contact the company and ask for a replacement and take advantage of that lifetime warranty.

Each kit comes with the following:

  • 1x T-handle insert tool
  • 1x T-handle spiral probe
  • 1x insert needle replacement
  • 2x hex keys
  • 30x 4″ repair cords
  • 1x long nose pliers
  • 1x upgraded knife
  • 1x tire pressure gauge
  • 1x jar of lubricant
  • 1x 4-in-1 valve core tool
  • 4x black plastic valve caps
  • 4x black plastic valve extenders
  • 4x chrome hex valve caps
  • 4x valve cores
  • 1x molded storage case

2. Runner-up: Slime flat tire repair kit


  • Well-known brand
  • Easy one-button solution
  • No tools or mechanical know-how needed
  • Includes a tire inflator


  • Temporary solution
  • You’ll have to buy sealant refills

Slime is one of the most well-known brands in the tire repair industry and this is one of its more popular all-in-one tire repair kits. Unlike kits that require plugging up your tire, this solution is meant to be as easy as a push of a button. Using Slime’s emergency tire repair sealant and a tire inflator, this kit will push the sealant into your tires to seal punctures. Afterwards, it will inflate your tires so you can get back on the road.

This kit will work on punctures up to 1/4″ and the sealant is non-toxic and non-corrosive so it’s safe to use on your wheels and tires. It also won’t cause any damage to your tire pressure sensors and is environmentally friendly. You can also use the tire inflator on its own to inflate your tires.

Unlike plugs however, the sealant is a temporary solution. Slime recommends replacing your tire within three days or 100 miles. This kit is ideal for car owners who don’t want to plug their own tires and instead want an easy solution to get back on the road. You can purchase additional refill cartridges if you use up the included sealant.

Each kit also includes one black nozzle for airing up inflatables, a silver needle for inflating sporting equipment, a black Presta/Schrader adapter tool, and a black valve depressor adapter to delate inflatables.

3. Best on a budget: AUTOWN tire repair kit


  • Affordable
  • Decent quality tools


  • No handle on the carrying case
  • Quality control issues

Since are really only used in emergency situations, we understand if you don’t want to spend too much money on one. For those on a budget, we recommend this 68-piece kit from AUTOWN, which will come with everything you need to plug up a puncture in your tire. But given its price, the tools and plugs aren’t the highest quality, but still better than other affordable kits.

Like many of the products in this segment, it’s manufactured overseas in China, so there’s a chance you’ll run into some quality control issues. But based on user reviews, the majority of customers have been happy with their purchase.

Here’s what each kit comes with:

  • 1x T-handle spiral probe tool
  • 1x T-handle insert tool
  • 1x tire pressure gauge
  • 40x self-vulcanization repair plugs
  • 4x black extension valves
  • 4x chrome hex valve caps
  • 4x plastic valve caps
  • 1x 4-in-1 valve core tool
  • 4x standard valve cores
  • 1x folding knife
  • 1x plastic storage box
  • 1x blue storage case
  • 2x L-type hex tools
  • 1x jar of lubricant
  • 1x pliers
  • instructions manual

4. Also consider: Rhino USA tire plug repair kit


  • Great customer service
  • Reliable


  • Not as easy to read as other tire pressure gauges
  • Extremely basic

Our final recommendation comes from Rhino USA, a brand well-known in the towing and off-road industry. I have personally had great experiences with Rhino USA’s customer service and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend its products. This 86-piece tire repair kit, like all of our other recommendations, is designed to repair tubeless tires and comes with everything you need to get your car back on the road.

While this tire repair kit is manufactured overseas, Rhino USA is an American-owned and family-operated business. Its products are designed and lab tested in the U.S. and the company offers a lifetime warranty on its products.

What makes this kit stand out from the competition is that it includes 60 plugs, which is more than the 30 from our top pick and the 40 from our budget recommendation. The included tools are heavy duty and better quality than most other kits. Chances are, this kit is all you’ll never need for tire repair, since you’d have to be really unlucky to use up all 60 plugs.

Here is what’s included with Rhino USA’s tire repair kit:

  • 1x T-handle insert tool
  • 1x T-handle spiral probe
  • 1x insert tool needle replacement
  • 2x hex keys
  • 60x repair cords/strings
  • 1x needle nose pliers
  • 1x knife
  • 1x jar of lubricant
  • 1x 4-in-1 valve core tool
  • 4x plastic tire valve caps
  • 4x plastic tire valve extenders
  • 4x chrome tire valve caps
  • 4x valve cores
  • 1x storage case

How to use a tire repair kit

In this section, we’ll provide some general instructions on how to use a tire repair kit, but we always recommend following the instructions that came with your specific product.

how to use a tire repair kit 01
Photo credit: Maitree Rimthong /

Start by locating the puncture in your tire. If it’s not obvious, use a spray bottle with a mixture of soap and water and spray it on your tire. Wherever the leak is, you should see bubbles coming from it.

Most kits will come with needle nose pliers to extract whatever caused the puncture in your tire. You may want to position the tire so you get the most leverage.

Once you’ve removed the object, use the spiral probe and push it through the puncture. You will want to twist it in and out of your tire a few times to a nice, clean hole for the plug.

Take one of the plugs off the strip and push it through the eyelet of the insert tool. To make this easy, push just a little bit of the plug through the eyelet and then use the pliers to pull the plug halfway through.

how to use a tire repair kit 02
Photo credit: /

Use the included lubricant around the area of the puncture before inserting the plug into the tire. Push the installer tool into the hole until the plug is about 75% in. Twist the installer tool 90 degrees and then pull it out.

If done correctly, the plug will stay inside the tire and the tool will come out. Use the knife from your tire repair kit to trim away any excess plug.

Properly inflate your tire to the recommended tire pressure before getting back on the road. This is where owning a portable tire inflator comes in handy.

What punctures can’t be repaired?

If your puncture or damage is on the shoulder or sidewall of your tire, then it should not be repaired. Deep punctures into the belt edges should also not be repaired. When using tire repair kits, stick to punctures in the tread of your tires.

How long will a tire plug repair last?

Assuming your puncture wasn’t very big (less than a 1/4″ diameter) and your repair was done correctly, the plug should last the life of the tire. If you are driving on a plugged tire, periodically spray it down with a mixture of soap and water to make sure it isn’t leaking.

Is a tire patch better than a tire plug?

Yes, using a patch on a damaged tire is better than using a plug. The problem is, you’ll have to go to a tire shop in order to have your tire patched. That is, unless you’re able to dismount a wheel in your garage or on the side of the road. Some tire shops will actually combine both a plug with a patch. We recommend taking your vehicle to a tire shop after repairing it, to make sure it’ll hold and get a patch applied if you don’t want to replace the tire.

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