Are You Supposed To Drive Right Away After Using Fix-a-Flat?

So you’ve just had the misfortune of getting a flat tire and had to use Fix-a-Flat to get back on the road. As you sit there on the side of the highway or in a parking lot, you look at that can of Fix-a-Flat and wonder – should I drive on this right away or not? It’s a fair question to have.

Here’s a quick answer:

Yes, it is recommended to drive 2-4 miles immediately after using Fix-a-Flat sealant to repair a flat tire. This short drive helps properly distribute the sealant within the tire and reinflate it to the correct pressure. However, Fix-a-Flat is only intended as an emergency temporary fix. After driving a few miles, you must properly inflate the tire to the recommended PSI and get it fully repaired or replaced so it is safe to drive on. Do not exceed driving 10-20 miles initially on Fix-a-Flat.

Understanding How Fix-a-Flat Works

Before getting into the specifics on driving, it helps to understand exactly what Fix-a-Flat does. Essentially, it’s a tire sealant and inflator product that temporarily seals small punctures in your tire and reinflates it at the same time. The sealant is made up of latex-based rubber and other compounds designed to plug leaks, while the propellant fills the tire up with extra pressure.

When you first use Fix-a-Flat, the propellant pushes the sealant into the puncture right away, forming a “plug” to stop the air leak. It also tops off your tire pressure to recommended levels, assuming it was low or flat to begin with. This allows you to immediately drive away and get to a repair shop later.

So in theory, you can drive on Fix-a-Flat right after using it thanks to its fast-acting formula. But should you?

The Benefits of Driving Immediately After Using Fix-a-Flat

There’s a good reason the instructions on Fix-a-Flat recommend driving 2-4 miles immediately after using the product. Here are the key benefits:

  • Distributes the Sealant: Driving right away helps slosh the sealant all around your tire and fully coat the interior sides. This allows it to fully plug any leaks. Without driving, the sealant may just sit at the bottom without reaching all puncture areas.
  • Increases Tire Pressure: The propellants rapidly inflate your tire, but driving further increases the pressure to proper levels as heat builds up in the tire. Proper inflation is important for handling and preventing further damage.
  • Ensures the Sealant Works: There’s no way to know if Fix-a-Flat fully sealed your tire unless you drive on it a bit. A short drive right away confirms everything is properly plugged before you get back to higher speeds.

So in short – driving immediately gives the sealant the best chance of doing its job properly.

Be Careful Not to Drive Too Much

However, it’s crucial not to drive too much right after using Fix-a-Flat. The key is driving just 2-4 miles or enough to ensure the sealant has worked. After that, you need to fully reinflate and get the tire repaired or replaced.

Why is it so important not to drive far on a Fix-a-Flat tire? Here are some of the biggest risks:

  • Sudden Failure: If the sealant didn’t fully plug a puncture, the tire could suddenly lose all pressure with little warning at higher speeds. That raises the chance of an accident or breakdown in a dangerous area without a shoulder.
  • Sealant Gets Overworked: Driving very far risks overworking the Fix-a-Flat sealant so that it gets thin or even rinse out completely through punctures and cause a major leak. Too much driving works against what the sealant is designed to handle.
  • Tire & Wheel Damage: Continuing to drive distances over 10 or 20 miles with too little pressure can lead to damage to both your tire and wheel. Too much sidewall and bead flex puts excess strain on the components.

Essentially, Fix-a-Flat works best for getting you somewhere safe to fully repair and reinflate the tire after just a few miles. Pushing that temporary fix for too long just leads to bigger problems down the road (both figuratively and literally).

What to Do After the Short Drive

Once you’ve driven 2-4 miles on your sealed Fix-a-Flat tire, it’s time to take further action:

  • Properly Inflate the Tire: Use an air compressor or gas station pump to inflate to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure listed on the sidewall or owner’s manual. This ensures safe handling until repaired.
  • Get the Tire Professionally Repaired: Take the tire to a certified tire shop to get it fully patched and plugged from the inside. Most punctures can be permanently repaired this way unless damage is too severe. Fix-a-Flat even makes special “expert tire repair” sealant for shops to better plug the holes.
  • Replace the Tire if Required: For more significant sidewall punctures or larger holes/tears/bulges, tire replacement is likely needed. No repair shop will risk improperly fixing such a damaged tire. Get a properly matching new tire installed in this case.
  • Rebalance & Realign if Needed: Having a flat can knock your wheel alignment and balance out of specification. So it’s wise to get these checked and corrected as necessary for proper vehicle handling on the road, reduced uneven tire wear, and a smooth ride. Pay attention for any vibration or pull when driving and get this addressed.

Now, even with knowing you should drive ~2 miles then properly reinflate and repair, is Fix-a-Flat even advisable for a flat tire? There are certainly some pros and cons to consider:

Pros

  • Quickly Gets You Moving Again
  • Very Convenient for Emergencies
  • Alternative to Spare Tire Hassle
  • Seals Punctures Well When Used Properly

Cons

  • Results Not Permanent
  • Can Damage TPMS Sensors
  • Messy Clean-Up
  • Not Compatible With All Tires
  • Can Cause Wheel Corrosion Over Time

Whether Fix-a-Flat makes sense really comes down to the type of flat, your willingness to properly repair/replace the tire afterward, and if alternatives like run-flat tires may be better long-term options.

It’s definitely handy to keep a can in your car for emergency flats out on the highway. But relying on it instead of proper repairs isn’t wise and will just lead to trouble eventually. Get that short drive in, then fix things right!

Key Takeaways on Driving After Using Fix-a-Flat

To summarize the key points on driving after you use Fix-a-Flat:

  • Do drive 2-4 miles immediately after to distribute sealant and reinflate
  • Don’t drive further than 10-20 miles to avoid sealant failure, tire/wheel damage
  • Properly inflate and get tire repaired or replaced after short drive
  • Consider pros and cons – good temporary fix but not permanent
  • Get wheel alignment checked to correct any issues

Follow those guidelines and Fix-a-Flat can be a handy emergency product when used wisely!

ProsCons
Quickly Gets You Moving AgainResults Not Permanent
Very Convenient for EmergenciesCan Damage TPMS Sensors
Alternative to Spare Tire HassleMessy Clean-Up
Seals Punctures Well When Used ProperlyNot Compatible With All Tires
Can Cause Wheel Corrosion Over Time

I hope this overview gives you a better understanding of what to do after using Fix-a-Flat! Let me know if you have any other questions.

FAQ

1: How soon should I drive after adding Fix-a-Flat to my tire?

It is recommended to drive 2-4 miles immediately after using Fix-a-Flat. This helps distribute the sealant inside your tire and inflate your tire to proper pressure. Driving right away gives the sealant the best chance to plug any punctures.

2: What should my tire pressure be after using Fix-a-Flat?

After driving 2-4 miles, use an air compressor or gas pump to fully reinflate your tire to the pressure listed inside the driver’s doorjamb or owner’s manual. This is typically around 30-35 PSI. Proper inflation ensures good handling.

3: For how many miles is it safe to drive on Fix-a-Flat?

Only drive 2-4 miles initially, then get your tire repaired or replaced. Driving more than 10-20 miles risks the Fix-a-Flat seal failing suddenly or causing further tire and wheel damage from too little pressure or improper handling.

4: How do I clean up Fix-a-Flat sealant residue?

Fix-a-Flat can leave behind sticky, dried sealant on rims that needs cleaning. Use warm soapy water or degreaser products, then rinse thoroughly. Use a plastic scrub brush or sponge and avoid more abrasive products that can damage finishings.

5: Can I use Fix-a-Flat on a run-flat tire?

No, do not use Fix-a-Flat on a run-flat tire or you may damage the tire’s reinforced sidewalls. Run-flat tires should only be driven 25-50 miles when punctured to save repairability. Your owner’s manual will specify guidelines.

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