Well the short answer is yes, tyre sealants do work. However this is not always going to be the case since some tyre punctures and tears such as on the side wall of the tyre maybe to catastrophic to be repaired with foam.
The use of tyre sealants in an emergency has become the norm and it is used in the same way the a spare tyre would have been used by motorists.
It has become the norm for many drivers since many car manufacturers are ditching the traditional spare wheel with a tyre repair kit containing sealant foam. This trend looks set to continue as manufacturers try to make vehicles more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly.
By removing the spare wheel, the car becomes lighter so requires less fuel and also having no spare wheel can free up some valuable space.
How does tyre sealant work?
When we looked at tyre sealant we discovered you can break it down into two types, pre-puncture and post puncture tyre sealant.
The different between these two types of sealant is that the pre-puncture version is present inside the tyre so in the event of a puncture the hole is sealed almost immediately. If you have this present in your tyres then it may be difficult to know if the sealant has been activated, so always inspect the tyre to see if a layer of what looks like latex is present since this may indicate that you had a puncture. If you do spot this then you need get a tyre fitter to check the condition of the tyre.
If your vehicle has older tyres or you tend to buy part worn tyres then its unlikely that they will have the pre-puncture liquid treatment so if the tyre goes flat due to a puncture, then you would need to use the post puncture sealant. Sometimes these kits will be supplied by the manufacturer however there are compressed can options available.
What does tyre sealant contain?
Manufacturers will have worked on their secret recipes of chemicals that will usually be mixed with latex. Some liquids may contain re-enforcing fibres that give added strength and durability to a repair.
Newer solutions have been created from water soluble solutions to get away from using hazardous chemicals where possible helping to reduce the impact on the environment and make it easier to remove them. Many of them now are bio degradable, non-toxic, non-flammable and can be washed away with water.
How to use Tyre Sealant?
Generally it will involve connecting the nozzle from the sealant directly to the tyre valve. Some kits will be supplied with a pump that you will need to use with the liquid.
If the liquid is present in the wheel before a puncture occurs then the movement of the tyre and pressure created causes the the liquid to be forced into the puncture hole where it seals the hole.
If your using the post puncture kits then using the two version will differ slightly:
If you have a manufacturers puncture repair kit with you then you will normally have a kit comprising off a pump, power connector, hose and and small bottle of sealant liquid. The instructions should be found with the kit.
Generally when using this type of kit you would connect the pump to the tyre’s air valve and then connect the liquid sealant bottle to the pump. The next step requires some power so you would connect the pump/compressor to the 12V power socket in the vehicle. Turn the engine on and let the pump run for about 10 minutes until the tyre is completely inflated. Once complete disconnect the pump from the power socket and the tyre valve. Replace the dust cap on the tyre valve.
If you using the compressed can sealant you will need to ensure that the can is held upright and that the tyre is rotated so the puncture is in the 6 o’clock position/towards the ground. Before beginning you need to shake the can to ensure the liquid is mixed an evenly distributed.
Connect the nozzle from the can to the tyre valve and press the button. You will notice almost immediately that they tyre will begin to inflate. Stop once the desired pressure has been reached or the can is emptied.
Advantages of Tyre sealant
One of the advantages of using a sealant to inflate a flat tyre rather then a spare wheel is that it is much quicker and easier to use since you don’t have to remove wheel nuts and jack up the car. And for some drivers the thought of using a spare wheel is the stuff of nightmares.
For anyone who wants to save space the you would be happy to know that the repair kits or compressed cans are small and easy to store away.
A big advantage of using foam/sealant over spare wheels is the cost saving. Puncture repair kits are supplied for free with many new cars however you will still have an option of getting a spare wheel but this could add on an extra £100 – £300 to the cost of buying that new car.
Can you repair a tyre after using a tyre sealant
They can be repaired but this will be dependent on the severity of the tear or puncture. If its severe then you may have to replace the tyre with a new one.
The success of any repair and the length of time it takes will be affected by the type of sealant used. In some cases it may be more cost effective to replace the tyre since the cost of labor may not justify the repair bill.
Some tyre fitters may be reluctant to repair the tyre since it can be hazardous. The chemicals used in sealants can be extremely hazardous so have to be removed with caution. In the event that compressed sealant was used then the pressure inside the tyre walls can be dangerous for a tyre fitter.
How long does the tyre foam last?
Once used sealants are only meant to be a short term measure to get you through an emergency so you can reach a place of safety where you can get the tyre inspected thoroughly, repaired or if necessary replaced.
Driving on tyre that has made use of a puncture repair kit should be done for a short period since the tyre could be hiding a nasty fault that could result in a catastrophic blow out.
Where can you buy tyre repair sealants?
Generally you can buy compressed can tyre foam from automotive stores and online from the likes of Amazon. The can vary in price between £5 – £10 deepening on the brand and size of the can.
If you have used the puncture repair kit supplied by the manufacturer then you will need to replace the used kit by contacting the dealership or finding a replacement elsewhere.
Spare wheel – Wikipedia