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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