Is Fix-a-Flat a Dangerous Product?

Fix-a-Flat tire sealer


Every time you read something about Fix-a-Flat, a may see a bevy of mechanics, tire techs and other doomsayers telling you how dangerous a product it is. Here is one word for them: WRONG. They claim that the propellant used in Fix-a-Flat (and similar) products can cause an explosion when a technician goes to dismount the tire for a proper repair.

The Erroneous Claims

The story goes something like this:

A driver on the way home work gets a flat. He never bothered to check the pressure in his spare tire, and it's flat, too. Luckily his brother bought him a can of Fix-a-Flat last year, and he tossed it in the trunk. He refills the tire and heads to the tire store for a proper repair or a new tire. At the tire shop, the technician puts the wheel on the tire machine, and somehow in the process of deflating the tire or breaking the bead a spark flies, ignites the flammable propellant the tire sealer left behind, and injures or kills him (depending on what version of the story you're listening to).

The fact is that the chemical propellant used in Fix-a-Flat today is a non-flammable gas. It will not explode!

Debunking the Myth

A little research revealed that in fact some tire sealing and inflation products did have explosive chemicals inside as propellants. The "did" is the important piece of information here. There are a few famous cases involving serious explosions of tire-sealing products. Even Fix-a-Flat had explosive qualities until 1999 when they removed the product from shelves and replaced it with a new non-explosive formula. With that info, the people who are continually saying that Fix-a-Flat will kill you aren't entirely misinformed, just about a decade too late. Clearly, if there was any chance for an explosion, the product would be dangerous, but the fact is that there is no chance for an explosion with this roadside emergency aid. 

Important Note About Other Products

While Fix-a-Flat is for sure non-explosive, it's very possible that other lesser known tire sealing products on the market still use a propane or butane based propellant.

Be especially wary of strange off brands you find in dollar stores or at flea markets — some of these don't even have to pass Federal muster since they're brought into the country "under the radar." To be safe, stick with a major brand like Fix-a-Flat. If you're not sure, do some research to find out how safe your product is. That couple of dollars you save could seriously backfire if you find yourself dealing with an inferior product. Even if it doesn't explode, it might just suck, leaving you stranded when you thought you were prepared for a flat tire. It's a worthwhile part of your emergency preparedness kit.