Reader Question: Thoughts on Fix-a-Flat?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Stuart asks: What do you think about using Fix-a-Flat to deal with a flat tire? I’ve heard that it’s bad news to put this goo in a tire. Is that true?

My reply: It’s bad news for the tire shop! Especially if they don’t know the tire has been “fixed” using this goo, which makes a godawful mess and can even be dangerous when dismounting a tire, if the guy doing the work isn’t prepared for it.

That said, Fix-a-Flat can be a real help in a situation where changing a tire isn’t viable or safe. For example, on a day when it’s pouring rain and there’s no safe place to jack the car up enough to get the flat tire off and the spare tire mounted. Or it’s just unsafe to stop, regardless of the weather – as in Atlanta and other cities around the country right now. 

Fix-a-Flat can get you going again in less than 5 minutes. So I think it’s a good idea to have a can in the car for an emergency.

But – ideally – have a spare. And not just for the sake of the tire shop. For your own sake. Fix-a-Flat can’t fix a sidewall puncture. Or a damaged wheel. If you are dealing with either of those, you will need a spare tire to get going again. This is why it’s a good idea to have one even if your car didn’t come with one – as is the case with many late-model cars. They have inflator kits – to save the weight and the room which would otherwise be added and taken up by a spare, even a “mini” spare. A small compressor and goo kit take up less space and weigh almost nothing because there’s no jack/lug wrench as well as no spare tire.

Adding a spare (and the jack/lug wrench) is arguably even more important nowadays because so many cars that have the inflator kit/goo have short-sidewall “sport” tires on alloy wheels – which are much more vulnerable to sidewall (and wheel) damage than old-school steel wheels and tires with taller sidewalls, which can absorb the impact of a bad pothole or curb better.

Finally, if you use the Fix-a-Flat to get back on the road again, do a Mitzvah and tell the tire shop – so they don’t get surprised by the goo when they dismount the “fixed” tire.

. . .

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  1. I use Slime for tires that the shop won’t fix, too old or hole too close to the edge of the tread.

    It works okay if you drive it often but not if you let it sit around.

    • Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like every tire I ever used Slime in, ends up leaking around the bead eventually…it must work it’s way between the bead and the rim seat or something. I’m getting pretty good at wrangling tires….so now I just fix ’em the right way to begin with…… Darn Slime is kinda expensive too- ‘specially when you’re dealing with bigger tires. With the money I save not buying Slime, I guess I can buy a set of tire levers one of these days, instead of using screwdrivers, crowbars and brake spoons! (My neighbor has a tire machine at his shop in town…but driving 10 miles there…spending an hour shooting the breeze, and then driving ten miles back wastes more time than just doing it by hand)

      • These newer wheels and tires are hell to do by hand.

        I miss my old split rims! And … decades ago in CO, we had friends who ran a mountain store/gas station/cabins/café. They had an old even then (guessing dated back to the 1930s) hand operated tire changing “machine” bolted down to a wooden deck out front. So we would just drive down the road and use their machine and compressor. Sometimes I would end up fixing some tourist’s tire also, and just tell them to go into the store and pay. I finally jerry-rigged up my own air compressor at camp so I could do the Truck tires there without all the tourists standing around watching me beat on them.

        These days I either get my flats fixed for free where I bought the tires, or else pay the $17.50 for other tires IF they will even fix them. Trouble is that it’s a 60+ mile drive one way. Last time I got a tire fixed at the town in our own county, it was two trips and they charged me TWICE to fix the same tire that they failed to fix the first time! After almost 20 years of doing business with them, I never go back anymore because of that and other repeated screw-ups.

        • I miss a split rim like another hole in my head. I’ve had them break, causing a blow-out and damn near kill me. I must have spent close to $5 or less for a poncho I keep in pouch it came in. I wear it to fix a flat or whatever needs to be done.

          I have used Fix a Flat before…..on my lawnmower when I had no Slime.

          I guess it would be good for those who aren’t capable of changing a flat but you don’t want to be the person who takes a flat in and doesn’t tell the person fixing it that you used the stuff in it(you’ll hear cussing below the breath). Some places have signs saying they won’t fix one with Slime or Fix a Flat in it or either add a charge which is not ripping you off at all.

          The first time I had to fix one with it, I was P.O’d. It took forever to clean the tire(and you have to do it well), clean the wheel and be warned, it can ruin a sensor so there’s that possible cost.

          • I only use Slime on tires that they won’t fix anyway. So if/when it comes time to get a new tire, there would only be the wheel to clean. I just recently got my first ever vehicle with tire pressure sensors so that’s going to be different. These days I buy the warranty with new tires so if a flat can’t be fixed they have to replace all four tires.

            I never had any trouble with multi-piece rims including the 20″ Firestone “widow makers” on my log truck. They were just a lot of work and you had to know what you were doing. It was sure a lot better to be able to fix them out in the dirt rather than loading it up in a pickup and driving 50 miles to a tire shop. I bought used school bus tires and put them on myself, and fixed flats maybe once or twice a month in the summer hauling on those granite gravel mountain roads.

            • Back when there were spring loaded things that helped you keep a truck with a blown tire on the road since power steering was rare, very rare, I had a ring that was cracked I didn’t notice going out in the dark but found as soon as I was in Houston with a load of oil. It didn’t give up til I was SW of Snyder and coming up on a deep gorge that went to the edge of the road. I couldn’t tell those spring loaded steering stabilizers did anything as I was hanging on to the wheel, jammed up against the door with my feet barely touching the floor and the trailer brake pulled full cause I couldn’t keep pressure on the main brake pedal.

              After that I went over the front wheels with a fine tooth comb before I took off to even drive the mile to load.

              No, I’m a dyed in the wool one piece wheel kinda guy…..and prefer Buds over other, more crack prone wheels.

      • PS: before those days, I worked at a “service station” where I changed hundreds of tires on the air powered machine. The hand powered one worked exactly the same except YOU provided all the power through the levers and long handled tire iron that you walked all the way around the spindle.

  2. A month or so ago I had to dismount and remount a tire on my zero-turn mower, ’cause it had a slow leak around the bead. Turns out someone had put Slime in there. What a PAIN it was cleaning that stuff off of the tire bead and rim! (But it beat having to air-up the tire before every mowing!).


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