So you’ve got a flat tire. If you don’t have a jack and a spare (as is often the case with many modern vehicles) you’ll need to know how to use Fix-a-Flat.
Fix-a-Flat is an aerosol tire sealant (sometimes called canned tire inflator) that will repair a small hole in your tire and re-inflate the tire itself. The hole has to be small though — the manufacturer says ¼ inch or smaller — so if you’re dealing with a puncture from a nail or something similar, Fix-a-Flat might be just what you need to get back on the road in a hurry.
How Does Fix-a-Flat Work?
A can of Fix-a-Flat contains tire sealant as well as compressed air. When you use it, the air pushes the sealant out of the can and into your tire through the valve stem. The sealant coats the inside surface of the tire and fills the puncture.
What Will I Need?
Eye protection is always a good idea when you’re working with an aerosol, and having a clean towel to wipe up spills would be smart too. Fix-a-Flat cleans up easily, but if it’s left on certain surfaces, such as chrome wheels, it can cause damage.
How to Use Fix-a-Flat
- Locate the puncture and drive the car forward so that the puncture is at the very bottom of the tire, touching the road.
- Shake the can of Fix-a-Flat vigorously for 30 seconds.
- Remove the tamper-proof tab on the can.
- Remove the valve stem cap and firmly attach one end of the hose (possibly sold separately) to the can and the other end to the valve stem of the flat tire.
- Hold the can upright and press down on the button for 45 seconds. You should see the tire begin to fill with air and the rim raise up off the road. Keep your finger down on the button until the can is empty, and then replace the valve stem cap.
- Drive the car two to four miles immediately to help the sealant spread. After that, head directly to a gas station or anywhere else with a tire inflator to get the tire back up to the manufacturer-recommended pressure level.
Is the Tire as Good as New?
Unfortunately, no. Your tire is only temporarily repaired. According to the manufacturer, you have three days or 100 miles to have that tire patched or replaced, so your next stop should be a tire shop.
When Shouldn’t I Use Fix-a-Flat?
The only problem you might face with Fix-a-Flat is if the size of the hole is too big or the distance you have to travel before a more lasting repair is too great. If the hole is bigger than a ¼ inch or you have more than 100 miles to the nearest tire pro, you should use a spare tire instead. If you don’t have a spare handy, calling for a tow may be the best option.
Check out all the tire products available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to use Fix-a-Flat or any other canned tire inflator, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Mike Hagerty is an automotive journalist whose work has been featured on radio, TV, in print and online since 1997. He's the Publisher and Editor of MikeHagertyCars.com, and contributes car reviews to the Los Altos Town Crier and losaltosonline.com. Previous outlets have included KFBK and KFBK.com in Sacramento, California, the ABC television affiliates and Hearst-Argyle and Emmis radio stations in Phoenix, Arizona; AAA magazines for Arizona, Oklahoma, Northwest Ohio, South Dakota and the Mountain West and BBCCars.com.