Jeremy Staunton kicked all Leicester's points as the reigning champions ground out their ninth successive Aviva Premiership victory 18-16 to rekindle Sale's relegation fears.
Fly-half Staunton landed six penalties to send Leicester nine points clear at the top of the table and condemn struggling Sale to their 10th defeat of the season.
The home side claimed the only try of the game in the 50th minute when Charlie Hodgson's brilliant long pass sent centre Chris Bell over, but Leicester responded in typical fashion to claim the points.
Sale competed gamely throughout and will feel bitterly disappointed not to have ground out a victory, although a losing bonus-point at least ensured they did not finish empty-handed.
Only a fine saving tackle from Scott Hamilton on Rob Miller secured victory for Leicester, for whom England flanker Tom Croft played 55 minutes on his first Tigers start since October 23 to step up his return from a broken shoulder and nerve damage.