Corner Wrench: Should I use tire sealant?
Many drivers bemoan carmakers’ move away from supplying spare tires with their products. For most mainstream passenger cars, the cheaper modern substitute is some type of compressor and sealant kit. The reasons given are lighter vehicles with more usable cargo space, but there are a few pros and cons to keep in mind. While tire chemistry, design and manufacturing have improved their reliability and puncture resistance over the years, the general degradation of our roads and the volume of tire-shredding debris we encounter have kept pace with those improvements to flatten the score, so to speak.
Adding a spare tire to a vehicle that wasn’t built for one involves more planning than just finding a rim and tire. If it’s to be mounted inside a vehicle without a bulkhead protected cargo area (think open SUVs and minivans), it has to be secured strongly enough to stay in place during an impact to prevent it from becoming a lethal projectile. Of course, many drivers of these types of autos carry their own loose collision torpedoes every day in the form of sports gear, tools, and recyclables they’ve been meaning to drop in the bin. Some vehicles without spares can be modified to carry them underneath by purchasing original equipment holders and winches. SUV tailgate mounts may also be available, providing the existing gate hinges are appropriately reinforced to hold the carrier.
Spray sealants typically come in two types: pressurized aerosol cans, and 12-volt compressors with replaceable sealant containers. The latter has more benefits, allowing you to fill a tire to its pressure limit where aerosol cans come up short, top up pressures without sealant, and even for things like water inflatables and air mattresses.