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Can Fix-a-Flat Fix a Flat? We Put It to the Test

As any driver will tell you, eventually you’ll get a flat. No matter how careful a driver you are, no matter how strictly you try to avoid hazards and obstacles in your route, a flat tire is something that we all have to deal with. As long as we drive on air-filled products that can be punctured or pierced; we’ll have to pay the price.

It certainly seems odd, though, that given today’s advances in technology that we haven’t been able to improve upon the basic car tire. The first Model Ts were given bicycle tires that were prone to leaks, and it doesn’t look like we’ve innovated a whole lot since then.

Fortunately, however, there are options for fixing a flat tire that don’t involve waiting for a tow truck or riding the rims until you make it to a mechanic. Patch kits and spare tires are always a viable solution, but there’s a new product on the market called “Fix-a-Flat” that hopes to be a step beyond your basic patch kit.

Fix-a-flat is a tube of gel that you squeeze into the tire. The gel forms around the puncture, and hardens into a tough substance so you can continue to use the tire. It also comes with some compressed air to re-inflate the tire, so you aren’t riding too low. In theory, this sounds like a great idea. In practice, however, it has its limitations.

First of all, Fix-a-Flat is designed as a temporary fix. If you use it and it works, then you want to get your tire replaced ASAP, lest it become permanently disabled. For quick patch-ups though, Fix-a-Flat seems to do the job. Unfortunately, though, it is only designed to plug small holes and punctures. If your tire is shredded or blown, then Fix-a-Flat will do nothing to help you. Additionally, if your tire is extremely low on air, then the small amount of compressed air provided won’t be enough. We recommend having an air pump in the vehicle regardless; try to have one that plugs into your car for quick fill-ups. Finally, the liquid inside can freeze, so if you’re in a cold climate, the odds of having a can of frozen gel is pretty high.

So is Fix-a-Flat worth it? It can be, provided that you know what you’re doing (or can follow instructions well) and that your car has a small puncture. However, if you want to be truly prepared for anything, having a full spare, and a replacement kit would be your best option. Even having a basic patch kit can be preferable to Fix-a-Flat since those can usually a wider variety of piercings. As we mentioned above, too, make sure to have an air pump handy just in case.