Tyre sealant vs. spare wheel
Punctures are annoying, inconvenient and a consistent possibility – especially if you live down one of our famously uneven country roads!
If you discover a puncture, you have to deal with it quickly. Otherwise the issue is just going to get worse and become costlier to fix. Most tyre manufacturers provide guidance on preventing this, but no one has really decided which is better: tyre sealant or a spare wheel.
We’ve reviewed both so that you can make an informed decision about which option to go for.
When you get a puncture
Most punctures can be repaired for a fraction of the cost of a replacement tyre. However, they’re often only able to be repaired if the puncture is in the main tread, and if you stopped driving quickly enough to avoid overheating the tyre.
Whether you have tyre sealant or a spare tyre, the tyre must be removed from the wheel to check for internal damage before making any attempt to fix it.
An increasing number of car manufacturers supply a tyre sealant and inflator pack. The tyre sealant and compressed air can be injected through the tyre valve and will fix most punctures, though a hole in the side of the tyre won’t be fixed by sealant.
The success of the sealant repair is dependent on the distance and speed that the flat tyre has been driven on, as well as the severity of the puncture.
There are two types of tyre sealant available:
• Pre-puncture sealant: This is a preventative measure. If a
puncture does occur, the sealant in the tyre will prevent air loss so you can
carry on driving without disruption. However, this method may make it harder to
spot when a puncture has occurred, increasing the likelihood of more serious
damage further down the line.
• Post-puncture sealant: You use this after you spot a puncture. Put the sealant through the valve and use the compressor to re-inflate. With this method, you have to spot punctures early and stop quickly to get the best results.
Sealants are not permanent repairs, but can get you on your way very quickly as they’re easy to use and relatively cheap to replace.
It is thought that the spare tyre is being phased out by car manufacturers. First, there was the full-size spare wheel, then the space saver. Now, puncture repair kits are taking over. In fact, a spare tyre may cost you extra when buying the car in the first place. So, is it worth it?
A spare tyre is considerably heavier than the sealant alternatives, so can affect your running costs. Also, replacing a wheel takes time, an element of strength and some serious know-how to do it correctly.
However, a spare tyre will give you the peace of mind that a tyre sealant solution cannot; you know that the problem isn’t there anymore and you will definitely get home, or to a garage. With tyre sealant, it is much more uncertain as it can be temperamental.
Like tyre sealant, a spare tyre is not a long-term fix (unless you have a full-size alternative). After changing your tyre, you should always try to get the original tyre repaired at a garage. They will advise on whether or not your old tyre can be salvaged, and even fit new ones on the day – you just need to decide which type you want. Both tyre sealant solutions and spare tyres have their advantages, but it is up to you on which makes you feel safe whilst driving.