Three Questions To Ask When Buying Tire Sealant

Keeping a can or two of top-quality tire sealant in your car can make having a flat tire a much easier problem to manage.

Close up of tire
Tire sealant isn't a good way to fix a flat, but it can get you to a place that'll fix one for you.Amazon

Flat tires happen every day, and nobody is immune to this not-so-pleasant fact of life. Whether on your car, truck, wheelbarrow or lawn tractor, getting back into commission can be easy if you carry the right tool for the job. In this case, that tool is a can or two of tire sealant. To make a good selection when shopping for tire sealant, ask yourself three questions—do you need emergency or preventative sealant, will you be repairing tubeless tires or tires with tubes, and are you worried about damaging your car’s tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).

Emergency Or Preventative?

Slime tire sealant
This sealant is made for emergency situations when you suffer a flat tire while on the road.Amazon

While most people likely aren't aware, there are two different uses for tire sealant, thus two different kinds available. When you've had a flat tire, emergency sealants are sprayed into the valve to coat the inside of the flat tire on the tread area, allowing the product to seal punctures. When used, the escaping air carries the sealant to the puncture. The liquid portion of the sealant escapes, but the fibers and binders build up and intertwine to form a flexible plug and seal the puncture. Preventative tire sealant is used beforehand to coat the inside of your tire's tread so it will be more likely to seal over damage caused by puncture producing objects like nails and screws.

Tube Or No Tube?

Slime tube sealant
This emergency sealant is designed to be used on tires with tubes.Amazon

Most regular cars and trucks made today use tubeless tires. Yet many wheeled objects like wheelbarrows, lawn tractors and even some ATVs still use tires with innertubes inside. Each kind of tire requires a specific type of sealant to ensure the tire is repaired well enough to make it until you can have a more permanent repair done at a tire shop. Most sealants are made for tubeless tires. If you will be using your sealant on a tire with a tube, be sure and check to make sure you are buying sealant made for tubes before making a purchase.

Safety?

Fix-a-Flat tire sealant
The manufacturer has designated this emergency sealant TPMS safe.Amazon

Some people recommend never using tire sealant because they believe it can clog your valve stem and possibly damage your car's tire pressure management system. They argue that the sealant can clog the pressure sensor inside the tire, making it unable to alert you when your tire pressure becomes low. Fortunately, many companies have developed tire sealant with this situation in mind. If you have a car with a tire pressure monitoring system and are going to use tire sealant, choose a sealant that is labeled TPMS safe. Note, however, that some tire makers recommend never using sealant in their tires.