Comes in a variety of sizes up to one gallon. Non-corrosive. Stays in liquid form to protect against slow leaks and punctures. Safe for all wheel types. Cleans up easily.
The sealing compound is great – if you can get it into the tires. Some buyers say the pump delivery system hard to use.
Works fast. Can plug up quarter-inch holes. Cleans up easily. Tire-sensor safe.
Won't work on sidewall punctures or bead-seal leaks.
Comes in both 16- and 32-ounce sizes. Works very well, even in lower temperatures. Seals quickly. Long-lasting, and easy to clean up. Can repair a 1/4" hole almost instantly.
This option is not as effective if you don't drive your vehicle (rotate the tires) every day. Can dry fairly quickly, particularly in high heat conditions, requiring reapplication.
Has an eco-friendly formula that comes in 16- or 20-ounce sizes. Both inflates and repairs tires for on and off-road vehicles. Great price. Good instructions, and safe for vehicles with tire sensors.
Some customers have had problems with cans only pushing out 1/3 to 1/2 of their contents before stopping. The clear cap on it can be hard to remove.
Available in 4- and 8-ounce sizes. Seals gashes as well as holes. The nozzle works well for nearly mess-free filling. Doesn't ball up in tires as much as other products. Eco-friendly ingredients.
Dries out more quickly than other brands. According to some buyers, sometimes it will even dry up before you can get it out of the bottle.
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Tire sealants have become very popular – no surprise when getting a flat is such a pain! But there’s another good reason for keeping tire sealant handy. Many modern cars no longer carry a spare wheel, so an alternative solution is a must.
A good tire sealant is a quick and inexpensive fix, but not all tire sealants are the same. It’s important to get the right one for the job and to understand what a sealant can and can’t do.
At BestReviews, our mission is to help you make the best choices when it comes to purchasing decisions. If you’re ready to buy, check out our top recommendations in the product list. For all you need to know about tire sealants and how they work, keep reading our shopping guide.
Tire sealants can be divided into two groups. Aerosol cans are used for emergency puncture repair, while liquid products are most often pre-installed and used for prevention.
If your vehicle doesn’t carry a spare, carry an aerosol tire sealant and a small compressor instead. The compressor can be used many times, and they’re useful for other tires and inflatables, too. The aerosol is a one-time product, designed to get you home or somewhere the tire can be professionally repaired. Aerosol tire sealants are not for continued use. There are also speed restrictions with aerosol tire sealants. Most are not recommended for high-performance motorcycles or Z-rated car tires. Failing to follow the limits could cause a dangerous blowout.
Many vehicles come with an aerosol tire sealant. Once you’ve used up that can, simply buy a replacement to keep with the compressor. Aerosol cans supplied by car dealerships can be expensive, and they’re no better than the alternatives you can buy online.
Aerosol tire sealants are a one-hit deal. There’s only enough product to fill one tire, and you can’t save some of the sealant for another time. You might want to carry two cans, just in case you get a puncture in another wheel.
Most aerosol tire sealants contain a synthetic latex and a propellant to force it into the tire. You simply attach the nozzle to the can and press the button. Most cans contain enough propellant to inflate a standard 16” tire, but it’s always a good idea to have a small compressor handy in case you need extra air. A compact model that plugs into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter won’t be fast but will get the job done.
Your tire should be flat, or almost flat, before you inject the product. If it’s not, you could over inflate the tire, which could cause the sealant to blow back out of the valve or around the rim. You’ll waste the can, it won’t fix your flat, and your tire will be a nightmare to clean and repair later!
It’s usually recommended that you drive a short distance (a few hundred yards) to properly spread the sealant around the tire. You should then check the pressure. Products do differ, however, so read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Liquid tire sealants can be used to repair roadside flats, but the application process is more complicated than with aerosol sealants. Usually a liquid tire sealant is used as a preventative measure. You treat all four tires on your vehicle or both tires on a motorcycle or bike. Then if you do get a puncture, the escaping air drives the product into the hole and plugs it. Though a small loss of air pressure is likely, with liquid tire sealant you may not even know you’ve had a puncture.
Many liquid sealants contain latex, plus fibers or crystals that bind together in the hole. Extreme-performance products aimed at heavy-duty vehicles and off-road use often use kevlar.
Manufacturers offer different liquid formulas depending on the type of tire. Although if you’re preparing several different vehicles, there are brands that offer all-around solutions. If you’re a keen road cyclist, you might want to consider a more task-focused product. Performance motorcycle tires can be subject to particularly high stress, and special liquid sealants have been designed to cope under those conditions.
Unlike aerosols, where you have a propellant in the can, liquid tire sealants need to be poured or injected into the tire. Some come with syringes or small pumps but many don’t.
To treat the tire, the valve core has to be removed. It’s a simple job, and a core removal tool only costs a few bucks. With the tire completely deflated, the liquid tire sealant is added. There’s a specific amount required depending on the size of the tire, so make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Replace the valve core and then re-inflate the tire.
Unlike aerosols, liquid tire sealants are long-lasting products. It’s quite possible you could wear out a tire treated with liquid tire sealant before it needs to be replaced.
The maximum puncture size most aerosol tire sealants will fix is 1/4".
For tubed tires, you need a liquid tire sealant. Maximum repair is 1/8". That doesn’t seem very large, but most cyclists only experience punctures from small objects. Any larger and the damage to the tire is probably too severe. The same is true with wheelbarrows and most other pieces of equipment that have tubed tires.
For car, truck, and other vehicle tires, preventative sealants are usually rated for 1/4" repairs. Specialist kevlar-based sealants can fix a hole up to 1/2" across.
Tire sealant is relatively inexpensive. Aerosol cans for emergency repair range from around $8 to $20 depending on the tire size they can repair.
Preventative liquid tire sealants start at around $10 for a four-ounce bottle suitable for bicycle tires, and $15 for a 16-ounce bottle that’s sufficient for the average car. That’s an awful lot cheaper than replacing your tire if you run over a nail!
Buying larger quantities can save money if you have more than one vehicle, but tire sealants do have a shelf life. There’s no point buying a gallon bottle if it’s going to sit in the back of the garage for years.
If you don’t have one, you’ll also need a valve core removal tool. Some tire sealant packs include one. If not, these tools cost between $5 and $10.
Tire Pressure Monitor Sensors (TPMS) are sensitive mechanisms, and some tire sealants can damage them. If your vehicle is fitted with TPMS, check carefully before you buy a tire sealant.
If you live in an area that experiences extremes of heat or cold, check the operating range of the tire sealant you’re considering. Aerosol products can freeze in the can or in the tire. Some preventative liquid sealants contain anti-freeze and have very wide operating ranges. The widest we saw was from -40°F to 250°F. Others work from around 5°F to 140°F.
Filling your tires with sealant can be a messy operation. Minimize spills as much as possible. It’s a good idea to wear gloves and have appropriate clean-up materials handy before you start (follow the manufacturer’s suggestions). Once hardened, some products – especially aerosol sealants – can be difficult to remove from tire beads and wheel rims.
If you use a preventative tire sealant, you may not know you’ve had a puncture, but you might briefly notice odd steering behavior. If you think you’ve had a puncture, try to find and remove the object that caused it. If it stays in your tire, it’s just going to do more damage and may expand the hole to the point where the sealant can no longer cope.
Q. How long do tire sealants last?
A. With preventative liquid tire sealants, it varies according to the product and the type of tire. In bicycle tires, liquid tire sealant can last as little as a couple months. In car and truck tires, as much as a couple years. It’s always important to read the instructions. If you don’t, you risk ending up with a flat.
Q. I heard tire sealants can damage my tires or wheels. Is that true?
A. Some instant-repair aerosols have a small amount of corrosive in the compound, which can cause damage if you leave it for too long. As we’ve said before, these are emergency-use, “get-you-home” products only. You need to get a proper repair done pronto.
Most preventative liquid tire sealants contain rust-inhibitors and won’t normally be a problem. After all, these sealants are meant to stay in your tires for a couple years. Manufacturers often state that it’s “highly unlikely” liquid sealants will cause damage, which is true. They are understandably reluctant to give a 100% guarantee because there are so many different alloys and finishes out there.
Q. Are there any tire sealants for tubed tires?
A. There aren’t many, but they do exist. Although they are advertised as “prevent and repair,” these tire sealants are best added before use. As with tubeless liquid tire sealants, you need to remove the valve core, add sealant, replace the valve, and then inflate. You can use them in any tubed tire (bicycles, wheelbarrows, ride-on mowers, etc.). Some are dual-purpose and can be used in tubeless tires as well, but be careful as many cannot.