Almost every new car used to come with a spare tire, but these days spares are no longer standard. And even if you have a spare, changing a tire is no fun. Consumer Reports tested tire-sealant compressor kits, as well as aerosol cans that promise a quick fix. To test, a car was outfitted with 15-inch, all-season tires and one of the tires was punctured with a small nail.
All of 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 that all of the cans had difficulty with larger holes. And because an aerosol can is under pressure, you can't keep it in your car in hot weather; 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.
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 of 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 that the $80 Continental ContiComfortKit works the fastest and has 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 that none of the products can repair very large punctures. And they should never be used to fix punctures in the sidewall of the tire.
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