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The DIY Tire Fix Kit For SHTF

Avatar for Samantha Biggers Samantha Biggers  |  Updated: October 3, 2019
The DIY Tire Fix Kit For SHTF

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Tires are everywhere you look. During a survival situation, the ability to fix a tire and extend its life is a good skill to have. The supplies in this article are inexpensive and can be bought a little at a time so it is not hard to fit into even a modest prepper budget.

To be honest, these are things you should probably have on hand even during good times if you have any vehicles or machines at all.

  • Tires Have A Limited Life

During SHTF, getting a new set of tires may not be a possibility. This means that extending the life of what you have is going to be the new reality. Even if you are just using small machines or wheelbarrows, tires are going to be part of your life.

Rolling firewood along in a wheelbarrow means less work and strain then if you are having to carry all that by hand. Tires can make or break the deal. 

  • Tire Repair Is A Valuable Skill

Making yourself useful during a crisis can make it a lot more likely that you will come out ok in the end. Tire repair is a skill that is not incredibly hard to learn but it sure is valuable to everyone.

If you have some extra supplies on hand, you can be a major benefit to those around you. Even if everyone starts out with tires that are in good shape, it only takes one sharp object to make a vehicle, machine, or tool, unusable.

  • Not Just For SHTF

Would you be able to take care of a basic tire issue if you were stuck with a flat? There are plenty of people that just figure they will call AAA to take care of it. That is fine if you are somewhere with a cell signal or when services are not being stressed.

Staying on the side of the road for hours waiting when you could fix it yourself in 20 minutes doesn’t make a lot of sense if it is something minor.

1. Tire Slime

This toxic looking substance is great for making tires last longer. It is actually an excellent preventative measure you can take to prevent a leak from ever happening in the first place.

While this is not an expensive item, you can definitely catch this stuff on sale or use coupons from auto stores to get it at a real bargain level price. It comes in quart and gallon sizes with the gallon being the most economical way to buy it.

It takes a bit to do a large vehicle tire so having a gallon or two extra after you have reinforced your own tires is a good plan. Despite what it looks like, it cleans up well with water and repairs and seals tires for up to 2 years. If your tires are still good by then you can put Slime in them again and keep going.

Tire Slime Leak Prevention Plan

Some household have more wheels than others. If you have a lot then it might take you some time to get all your tires sealed well.

To seal with slime:

  1. You first need to deflate your tire.
  2. When this is done, you pump the slime into the tire. The amount you need is based on your tire size and the chart on the bottle.
  3. You then inflate the tire.
  4. After inflation, you will need to go drive around for a minute or two to make sure the slime gets distributed throughout the tire.

Your tires are now sealed and have an extra layer of leak and puncture prevention that will last the life of your tire! If you do get a puncture that goes all the way through, then you will want to reseal with slime again after the more major repair if there is enough tread left on the tire to make it worth it to repair.

Plug Kit

When holes are obvious or when they are large, you need to be able to plug the hole. This is the same thing they do when you get a repair done at a professional tire shop. It takes some time but it is not a repair that is out of the realm of skill for even those with no tire repair experience.

Having two sets of the tools is probably a good idea though just in case you drop or lose one.

At this price point, it is not like you are making a huge investment.

Tire Pump 

Here is the one area where you can pay a little or a lot and there are a ton of different options out there. No hand pump is going to be fast but in an emergency situation any pump is better than none. This being said, do not go out and buy the cheapest pump out there. This is the most expensive item mentioned in this article.

If the grid is up, we just use an air compressor to fill tires at our place but if it were down it would be a challenge. There are 12 volt pumps you can get if you have solar power or some batteries. It takes a lot of pumping to inflate a bigger tire so if you can find a way to not do it by hand then that is a good thing.

The pumps for car emergencies that are frequently sold are slow but you don’t have to hand pump so a little extra patience may be worth it. There are a lot of pumps out there so do some research and read some reviews before purchasing.

You may just want to invest in several types to make life easier during different situations. Having one that works manually and one that is electric for example covers you in varying circumstances.


If a tire is attached to a vehicle or heavy tool then you are going to need a jack to do some repairs. In fact you may want to have several different types on hand. A lot of cars are sold with a small jack included but they are not always the greatest for all purpose use over time.

A floor jack and a bottle jack puts you in a good position for all types of repairs and can be useful for a lot of other things around the home.

The jack you choose is going to potentially be holding up a very heavy thing that you have to work around so this is another tool where you should not just buy the cheapest or lightest weight rating tool that you can find.

1. Pro Lift Bottle Jack 6 Ton

2. Pro Lift Floor Jack

3. Fix A Flat

This canned tire remedy is useful but definitely has its limitations. It is meant to be a good enough fix to allow you to get a vehicle somewhere that permanent repair can be done. At the same time, there are plenty of rebels out there that have went a long time on a tire that was just repaired with Fix A Flat.

While it is better than nothing and definitely worth it to have a few cans of, it is not something you want to trust for a very long term fix. Still, if it allows you to make it home when you have a breakdown, especially when helpful resources are limited or there is a major situation going on, the $5-$10 you spent could even save your life. Little things can sometimes have major consequences for better or worse.

Be aware that Fix A Flat has an expiration. Eventually, it will lose the pressure in the can and be useless so you need to occasionally toss it and buy new if you want to keep it around all the time just in case.

One can take care of fixing and inflating a standard tire. Really large truck tires may require one or more cans.

Getting Some Practice

If you have absolutely never had to fix a tire then it may be worth it to get an old tire and practice plugging holes a few times. Like any skill it may take a few tries before you are comfortable.

Old tires are easy to get a hold of. You may have one just laying around if you have lived at your place for very long or if you were blessed like we were with old tires that relatives threw out in random places.

I don’t really think the practice is 100% necessary but if you are lacking confidence in your ability to do repairs it can help. There are a ton of Youtube videos to show you the basics and those would be worth watching a few of.

Tube Versus Tubeless Tires

How and what you use for fixes is dependent on what type of tire you have. There are different types of tire slime for tubed tires. The vast majority of tires are tubeless. The major exceptions are wheelbarrows and bicycles.

Tubed Tire Know How

A tube patch kit is really inexpensive so definitely worth it to put back a few in your tire repair kit. Bicycles can become a more common method of transportation depending on the circumstances.

Tube Tire Repair Kit

The kit you can get works well for motorcycles, atvs, bicycles and more. You get 5 rubber patches in the kit.

Knowing When Not To Repair

It is not considered safe to try to patch the side area of a tire. There is just too much pressure on the sidewalls so a weakness is going to often cause tire blow outs or a continued leak. Tread areas are what you can fix.

A tire blowing out can cause loss of control and fatalities so it is not worth it to risk it to repair a sidewall unless you are in a very dire situation indeed. Also some states require inspections on vehicles to per performed annually and a shoddy repair can mean you fail and cannot be insured.

Valve Stems

Sometimes a valve stem can become damaged. This is the one exception to the not fixing something located on the side of the tire.

A kit like this should be on hand for any emergency tire repair. The included tool is small and a bit easy to lose so it would be worth it to have two of these.

Valve Stem Repair Kit

Never Repair A Repair

There is only so much you can do to get some use out of a tire.

If it is obvious that a tire has been patched in an area and then it gets another leak in the same space, chances are there is a weak spot that is only going to get worse and possibly cause harm if goes out at an appropriate speed.

Kit For The Road & Home

If you have some extra space it is not a bad idea to keep most of the things listed above both in your car and at home. This allows you to pretty much always have access to some tire repair supplies.

What if your significant other is away on a trip and you have to make a repair? What about being stuck on the side of the road and finding out you left the Fix A Flat in the garage?

Start Your Tire Prepping Today

The great thing about getting a tire kit together besides being on top of it with your prepping is that you can put it together with a little at a time. $10 here and there and before you know it you have a complete set up for getting the most out of your tires.

What tips do you have for tire repair or making tires last longer in general? Let us know by commenting below.

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19 Responses to “The DIY Tire Fix Kit For SHTF”

  1. Carry some large blocks of wood to block up the vehicle as back up if your jack fails. Carry two support jacks. Most small floor jacks are cheap an will lose their hydraulic pressure due to cheap seals.
    Have two bottle jacks to ‘see saw’ using the wood blocks it the individual jacks don’t raise your vehicle high enough using only one jack.
    I carry a full sized floor jack in my truck and van plus bottle jacks. Have a good 12 volt air pump with good wires with clips long enough to reach your battery for power to run it. Test your equipment at least once a year to make sure it still works.

    • Cedric,
      That is prepared! Do you have a bead breaker and extra large patches so you could make a major repair if you had too? The old folks on the farm talked of glueing and lacing sometimes, sections of inner tube to the inner tread and side walls of tires. Speeds were slow and times were hard.
      A Traveler

  2. Pressure within a tire is constant on all surfaces, including the sidewalls. It is not that a patch is under higher pressure stress on a sidewall that causes it to fail, it is that the sidewall flexes a great deal, while the tread area is fairly rigid, this flexing causes the glue or plug to fail, sometimes rapidly and as a blowout rather than a leak.

    • If you plug the tire in the tread you still need to get an internal patch ASAP as the air has a path to get into the laminations and cause a bubble in the tread and then a failure.

  3. Along with a manual tire pump if you are doing the long term storage thing is occasionally replacing the pump air chamber pieces which will rot. Some of the older ones are made of leather and can be done with careful trimming of an old boot.
    I fond myself using the wheelbarrow and dolly a lot more as I age too.

  4. what happens if a tire has a hole that is beyond repair. the use of a filler may get you to a place that you can get another. it is called great stuff and having the one that provides extra expansion will fill the tire the tire must be in a round shape for this to work. we tried it on a trailer that was loaded and it hit a piece of iron and sliced the sidewall. we didnt have a spare tire. when the foam hardened we continued for almost fifty miles to a station he then had a tire sent over and was amazed that the foam worked. it was a mess to clean the rim but as strange as it was it worked. will it always work? dont know but if your stuck it is worth a try!

    • Wow, he is talking about the foam! On a trailer tire, in a dire emergency only, maybe. I would NEVER use that in a vehicle tire, and only at low speeds.

      I give him points for ingenuity, though.

    • [I would NEVER use that in a vehicle tire]

      Think he WANTED to use it in the trailer tire?
      Depending on the weight of the trailer it could be more of a hazzard than on the vehicle.
      You do what you have to based on the situation.
      Even run on a flat until the rim is shot if needs be.

      A Traveler

  5. Good advice, but I would add that a bottle jack doesn’t work well on dirt, even well-packed, fairly level dirt. I found out first hand a couple months ago. Solution is easy, just carry a 1 foot square of 1/2 plywood. It gives a solid base so the jack is less likely to shift and slip. Floor jack is a better option if it will fit in your vehicle.

    • Yup and carrying multiple jacks is the best way to go for soft or uneven ground

  6. On dry rot:

    Most car tires, depending on the manufacturer, will be good for 5-6 years before the rubber dries out and they begin to crack. Like with everything else, storing the car inside will increase their life. The two most important factors for tire life are proper tire inflation (printed on a sticker attached to your vehicle’s driver-side door frame) and tire rotation. Keep a tire pressure gauge in the car, and check your pressure at least once a month. If you are going to park the car for extended periods of time, remove the wheels. Modern rubber tire formulations are meant to be used; if the sit they’ll dry out faster.

    Some places offer nitrogen instead of plain air to fill the tires. Nitrogen is dry and inert. There’s no water vapor, so no water to attack the rubber on the inside, and it will expand and contract less.

    There are also run-flat tires. These have reinforced sidewalls that can carry the weight of the car even if the tire is empty of air. They have huge disadvantages next to regular tires. They’re much more expensive, they are noisier, and they wear faster. Also, and the biggest one, they can’t be repaired.

    Many modern cars have either a small “doughnut” spare or no spare at all. My suggestion for either case is to buy a fifth full-size wheel (at a yard or Pick N Pull for much less), and a tire that matches the other four. Rotate it in with the other tires at rotation time. That way, if you need to replace a tire your spare has a similar tread depth and wear pattern as the other four. If you don’t want to carry it in the car all the time, you can bag it up and store it.

  7. >tire slime should not be used at highway speeds. Works great for utility use. I put it in new tires for lawn tractor.
    >you don’t mention dry rot. air comes right thru the little cracks in the sidewalls. gets so bad that even the slime won’t work. a tube might gain a little bit more life, if you can find one to fit. this is most likely scenario after shtf

  8. I work in a tire shop.

    Slime is advertised as something you can put in a tire ahead of time as a preventative measure, but this causes three problems. First, if you get a small puncture that it seals, you won’t be aware of it; it could become a bigger problem. Second, it can damage the tire pressure sensors that let you know your air is low. The cost to replace those is around $150. Fix a flat is even more likely to damage them. Third, it’s a viscous liquid, so it can affect your wheel balance, causing vehicle vibration which may affect your handling.

    Sarah, it is usually possible to fix a tire with either liquid in it, as long as it’s in an area that would be fixable to begin with. But it’s very important to let the tire tech know that you’ve used it BEFORE they work on it. It gets everywhere and i very messy; Fix-a-flat is corrosive and requires gloves ant protective eyewear. A PO’ed tech is going to tell you he can’t fix it.

    Other tips later.

  9. One important thing to consider before using slime or fix-a-flat: Most repair places will not try to repair a tire previously filled/repaired with either of these products. And you shouldn’t for the same reasons they don’t:

    Glues used in the plug kits will not adhere properly to tires treated with slime/fix-a-flat. They found this out the hard way (blowouts, etc.).

    So, take this into consideration before trying the “slime prevention plan” mentioned above. Think of it as repairing the tire before the fact and then go with the “never repair a repair” advice that follows. If you plan on EVER trying to fix a tire using a plug kit, don’t use slime/fix-a-flat on it.

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