Can a can fix a flat
April 11, 2006 6:21 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any experience with alternatives to spare tires such as fix-a-flat or slime?

I have just bought a second hand sports car that has no space fo luggage and am going away for Easter. There is a spare tire in the front that is taking up a lot of usable space and I am wondering whether modern roadside puncture repairs would actually do the job - should the worst happen.
posted by Samuel Farrow to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total)
I've used fix-a-flat precisely once. It was for a nail in between the treads. In the end it made a huge mess because I didn't shake it up enough, and the people at the tire store who did a proper patch were annoyed because of the extra work involved. But I did get home, if that's any consolation.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:37 PM on April 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

I've used fix-a-flat several times and am very happy with the results, and driven 50-100 Miles on it...

just make sure you tell the tire guy about it when he changes the tire.
posted by Izzmeister at 6:42 PM on April 11, 2006

I'd lean towards a tire plug kit and a foot or electric air pump, rather than a fix-a-flat sealant in a can. I used one of these to plug a nail hole in my Miata and it held up for several thousand miles, with no problems, until I had to replace the tire when the tread was getting too worn out.
posted by jaimev at 6:43 PM on April 11, 2006

I used a can once, but it became a mess. I followed the instructions, but something got screwed up somewhere along the way. So I put the spare on and took it in to get a new tire. YMMV (ha ha ha).
posted by Alt F4 at 6:50 PM on April 11, 2006

You're right that the canned stuff is a mess and it pisses off the place that has to plug your tire. I do have a can in my car for a dire emergency but I have a better solution in most cases.

I got a AAA membership and I keeo my cell phone in my pocket and my spare in the trunk inflated. When I had a flat not long ago, I just called the little man to come fix it. It works great! Try it!
posted by bim at 6:59 PM on April 11, 2006

Fix a Flat worked well for me on several occasions!
posted by mewithoutyou at 7:04 PM on April 11, 2006

My suggestion is bold and daring. Just carry a cell phone, and do without anything. If your tires last like mine do, you're taking about a 1 in 10,000 chance of being inconvenienced for an hour or three. (average cost: 0.36 seconds of your time)

Then, next time you need tires, look into run-flat performance tires and aftermarket pressure monitoring.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:14 PM on April 11, 2006

jaimev wrote: I'd lean towards a tire plug kit and a foot or electric air pump...

Absolutely. When used with an electric pump, a plug kit is just as quick as a can of slime. Plus, they're permanent.
posted by ryanrs at 7:58 PM on April 11, 2006

I gotta tell ya, if you're planning on Fix-a-Flat being your only recourse, then you're not planning on having any option but a tow truck in a lot of instances. My last flat required a bit more than that....
posted by delfuego at 8:04 PM on April 11, 2006

Some of the 'Fix-a-flat' variants use explosive propellant. Really.
Tire guys don't love fix-a-flat, they are dirty anyway and the tire machine is a mess of grime too. What they appreciate is *knowing* that they are potentially going to be slimed (or blown up) by the tire they are about to dismount.
Two minutes and a can of goo beats 20 minutes in the rain everytime.
posted by buzzman at 8:11 PM on April 11, 2006

Since I can't say anything useful about Fix-A-Flat that hasn't already been said, I'll add a quick data point about roadside rescue programs: my insurance company charges more than I wanted to pay for roadside rescue, but Sprint PCS offers it for $4/month, and I'm led to believe that other cell phone providers have similar plans. I've used it twice so far, and as far as the tow truck drivers are concerned I have AAA -- the only difference is that my membership number happens to be my cell phone number.

It makes me feel a lot more prepared for emergencies than a can of goo in the trunk -- especially "should the worst happen," like the blowout I had on the freeway last August. Fix-A-Flat doesn't help much when your tire is scattered all over the road.
posted by Acetylene at 9:03 PM on April 11, 2006

Never used Slime in a car but I've used it in my mountain bike for years and absolutely swear by it. Pull out the nail or thorn, pump the tire up a little, spin it to get the Slime into the hole and you're done. Very, very cool!

And I'll add my nay vote to the Fix-a-Flat stuff. Its too problematic for me.
posted by fenriq at 11:20 PM on April 11, 2006

ryanrs writes "When used with an electric pump, a plug kit is just as quick as a can of slime. Plus, they're permanent"

An externally applied string plug is not a permanent fix unless you like living dangerously. Because a string plug doesn't seal the steel cords properly it can cause the cords to rust resulting in a blow out. A user installed string plug should be replaced as soon as possible with a vulcanized mushroom patch & plug (scroll down to the image).

And plugs are not safe on shoulders or sidewalls.

As an alternative to carrying a spare you can take the risk of being stranded for a hour or two. Several cars (like the NSX) don't even have a spare tire well. The procedure if you get a flat is to call a commercial tire repair place and request they send a service truck out to repair or replace the defective tire on the side of the road. Charges for this service are about $65 for the call out + mileage + the cost of the replacement tire or the repair. If you always travel paved roads within a hour or so of civilization it may be a good trade off.

I never risked travelling with no spare for my Fiero but there were a few times I lashed the spare to the trunk lid to gain additional secure storage in the front trunk. Probably not an option if you've got a Porsche however I've seen a trailer hitch mounted spare used on rally Porsches.
posted by Mitheral at 7:16 AM on April 12, 2006

I used fix-a-flat to stop a slow leak that the garage couldn't find. At first, it wouldn't screw onto the tire valve because it had too deep a free bore in the nozzle. I used a hacksaw to cut 1/4" off the end of the nozzle, and it threaded on fine. The leak is gone.

The plug kits are fine if you can locate the leak (and it's in the tread).
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:32 AM on April 12, 2006

On a completely deflated tubeless tire, Fix a Flat is useless. You need at least a little air pressure to keep an airtight seal between the tire and the rim.

Also useless if the hole/tear is too big. I now have AAA ;-)

Also, many tire stores will charge extra for repairing/changing a tire where FaF has been used.
posted by JimBobNoPants at 8:01 AM on April 12, 2006

Kirth Gerson writes "The plug kits are fine if you can locate the leak (and it's in the tread)"

Goodyear, the Rubber Manufacturers Association (PDF Repair Chart), the NHTSA, and Transport Canada (PDF) disagree.
posted by Mitheral at 8:07 AM on April 12, 2006

Thanks for all of your advice and help
posted by Samuel Farrow at 12:53 PM on April 12, 2006

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