Consumer Reports puts tire repair products put to the test

These days, spares are no longer a standard feature in cars. So what do you do if you're on the side of the road with a flat tire?
October 30, 2013 8:34:52 PM PDT
Nearly every new car used to come with a spare tire. But these days, spares are no longer standard. So what do you do if you find yourself on the side of the road with a flat tire?

Even if you have a spare, changing a tire is no fun. So Consumer Reports tested quite a few products that offer easier solutions.

This Safety Spair commercial promises to repair your punctured flat tire without changing it.

Consumer Reports tested Safety Spair, along with other tire-sealant compressor kits, including aerosol cans that promise a quick fix. To test, this car was outfitted with 15-inch, all-season tires. Gene Petersen punctured one of the tires with a small nail and put the products to work.

All the aerosol cans were able to seal the small hole and inflate the tire, which kept going for more than 100 miles. But Consumer Reports found all the cans had difficulty with larger holes. And since an aerosol can is under pressure, you can't keep it in your car in hot weather, especially in Houston.

"It can explode. So that kind of limits its use. You're not going to keep it in your car. You're probably going to keep it at home, and when you need to use it, it's not going to be with you," Petersen said.

The compressor units are more expensive but can be safely stored in your car. You plug the compressor into your car's power adapter and attach the sealant canister to your tire.

All the compressor kits fixed even larger holes. They also come with a gauge to make sure you're inflating to the recommended pressure. Consumer Reports found the $80 ContiComfortKit works the fastest, with enough sealant to repair a wide variety of tire sizes.

Consumer Reports cautions that tire-fix products are just a temporary fix. As soon as you use them, get to a service station to have the tire inspected, repaired or replaced. Also be aware none of these products can repair very large punctures. And they should never ever be used to fix punctures in the sidewall of the tire.

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