Car Tyre Puncture Repair Kits – Any Good?

I have always been pretty sceptical about the space saver spare wheels and puncture repair kits supplied with many modern cars. I recently had an opportunity to see a puncture repair kit in action and was reluctantly impressed with its convenience – although I’d still prefer a full-size spare wheel, for reasons I’ll explain.

Ford Focus puncture repair kit inflating tyre
A Ford car tyre repair kit in action

First, the puncture repair. A friend of mine has a Ford Focus that has no spare wheel at all, just a puncture repair kit.

One morning recently, we were setting out in his car for a day out and discovered that a tyre had gone flat overnight. He nipped round to the boot and got out his Ford puncture repair kit, explaining that he had used it before and it was all rather spiffy and easy to do (to learn more, check out our new guide to car tyre puncture repair kits)

At this point, I was still sceptical, only half expecting that it would work at all. But it did – really well, in about 10 minutes. Here’s how:

  1. Plug in bottle of latex gloop (the big white thing in the picture) to the compressor
  2. Connect the air hose to the flat tyre
  3. Plug in the compressor to the car’s 12V accessory/cigarette lighter socket
  4. Sit back and wait while it pumps away
  5. Disconnect, pack up the kit and drive away, remembering that you need to get your newly-sealed tyre replaced ASAP.

The good news is that it really worked and was fast and easy – within ten minutes, the wheel was pumped up and we drove away. Even a heavily pregnant woman or frail elderly person could do it (for example), not just someone strong enough and knowledgable enough to change a wheel.

However, there is some bad news, too:

  1. If the puncture had been a gash in the sidewall or a blowout, the kit wouldn’t have worked – we’d have had to call out breakdown assistance for recovery to a tyre garage
  2. Bottles of latex sealant are expensive – about half the price of a new tyre
  3. Tyres that have been sealed are not usually plugged (repaired), even if they could have been. Instead, most tyre places like to replace them (although some will still plug them, despite the mess the sealant makes of the tyre). This means you may have to pay for a replacement tyre rather than just a plug…
  4. Once the tyre has been sealed, it is only intended to be a ‘get you home or to the garage’ solution and can’t be used long term. It also can’t be used at motorway speeds – the instructions with my friend’s Ford kit said that he shouldn’t exceed 80km/h (50mph) after the repair.
  5. A final sting in the tail is that while ATS replaced the tyre on my friend’s Ford, he had to go to a Ford dealer to get a new bottle of gloop. Until he did that, he couldn’t fix another puncture. With a spare wheel, there’s only one journey involved in getting it fixed properly.

So, to sum up, car tyre puncture repair kits work well, but only in limited circumstances. They are, overall, more expensive than having a proper spare wheel and less flexible, resulting in you being less self-sufficient than you could be if you had a spare wheel (even a space saver spare wheel).

If you’ve had any experiences (good or bad) with space saver spare wheels or puncture repair kits, I’d be very interested to hear them – just leave a comment below.

8 thoughts on “Car Tyre Puncture Repair Kits – Any Good?

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  • April 4, 2012 at 8:57 am
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    My new Kia Venga supplied with tyre repair kit which I consider unfit for purpose under the Sale of Goods Act.I asked Kia to provide a spare wheel fit for purpose but they would only do so at a cost of £250 & would not take back the tyre repair kit [brand new & unused] costing £150 in part exchange.I had a puncture on a remote mountain road [perfectly tarmaced] with no mobile signal and a necessity after realising Ihad a puncture of driving a further 300Metres to a safe stopping place by which time the sidewall was damaged and the repair kit useless. Iaccept the scenario you describe with the Ford Focus would be resolved by a repair kit but would suggest my scenario is very much the more common thus making the kit unfit for purpose even disregardingo the cost circa £150plus recovery costs of a mimor puncture where kit deployed.

    Reply
    • April 4, 2012 at 9:42 am
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      Hi Keith,

      I’m not a big fan of them myself and would always rather have a spare wheel, but I was impressed with how easily it worked. It’s also true that a lot of people can’t/won’t change a wheel for themselves anyway. But I agree with you – they do have limitations.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Regards, Roland

      Reply
  • May 31, 2014 at 9:49 am
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    Hi. I have just bought a brand new fiesta. Got a puncture after just three days and used the repair kit provided. When I took it to the garage they could not find the puncture due to the sealant and told me I would have to buy a new tire. What a joke – give me a spare tire anytime.

    Reply
    • May 31, 2014 at 8:33 pm
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      Most tyre places will refuse to repair tyres that have been sealed – I agree this is definitely one of the biggest problems with puncture repair kits, as in my experience, many punctures can be repaired for almost no cost, compared to the cost of a new tyre.

      The other disadvantage, of course, is that if you have a blowout, a puncture repair kit is useless as the tyre is damaged beyond use.

      Reply
  • November 8, 2014 at 1:34 pm
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    Had the misfortune to have to use a kit on my Seat Mii. Problem was that it was dusk and having to remove tyre valve working in poor light was not easy the latex went in easy enough but the inflator refused to work. Even after phoning the garage I bought from didn’t help, neither the garage or the instructions that came with the kit mentioned that the car engine had to be running in order for the inflator to work. Had to call out the AA who did a temporary repair. Things got worse when I tried to get a permanent repair and was told that because of the sealant covering the inside of the tyre it couldn’t be repaired so had to get n new tyre. Have ordered a spare tyre!

    Reply
  • May 19, 2016 at 8:29 pm
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    I have a BMW without run flats, I had a puncture on the motorway but the latex did not work. I was later told that it will only work if the hole is no bigger than a pin hole, if it’s a nail forget it. Unfortunately there is no room in my car for a spare otherwise I’d get one

    Reply
  • March 11, 2018 at 2:38 pm
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    In my opinion the tube of goo and a compressor border on useless (especially if motoring any distance from home), I also have a BMW 320i without run flats, for some reason known only to themselves the “German” designers decided that a spare wheel was not necessary. I decided to sacrifice boot space for a space saver tyre, OK, I’m going to plod along at 50 MPH for a few miles but at least I have the satisfaction that a self administered tube of goo hasn’t destroyed a £170 tyre!

    Reply

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