CHOICE membership

Tyre emergency flat fix/inflators


With more and more cars being delivered without full size spare tyres, and some with no spare just a can of gunk that is expected to seal and inflate a flat, I am unable to find a Choice report about how well those cans work, and which ones/types work better than others. Did my search fail?

If not, Consumer Reports has done it for the US market (subscription-walled) so maybe Choice can partner to provide a localised version for our market.

Consumer Reports also have a youtube teaser that also highlights (for more of us in Australia than the US, a serious problem with some of the cans, temperature). The temporary nature of the ‘repair’ is also repeatedly referenced but the limits of what puncture they can seal is at best usually vague when referenced at all.


This review could also be useful for those that travel on two wheels, no spares.

I recollect in the dim dark past the topic was also covered by one of the motor cycle specific publictions?

One thought is that the major tyre repairers might have some idea (guesstimate) or data on how often they come across incidents where the tyre brought in has had a temporary seal. Or perhaps also when it has been a rescue where the seal kit was not suitable or failed to work?

The ultimate test might be - are they suitable for someone who does many country and out of town highway miles? That’s assuming you can use the kit to effect a repair? Pass/Fail!


I’ve always got plugs and a pump and water … can’t imagine waiting for hours/days for the next car in 45 C heat, let alone walking anywhere … Some plug kits have gas cannisters which would be enough for a motorcycle but unsure about a car. I’ve heard rumours some of the cans expel a substance that is less than effective at high temperatures but unconfirmed. Plugs have similar rumours and speed limitations, also nebulous …

When in the car, I always carry two full size fully inflated spares, as well as the plug kit and a compressor (and water) :slight_smile:. Imagine being 5 hours from mobile coverage on a road rarely travelled with a 40k spare or no spare at all and just a can of Fssshhhh. Of course that would be lunacy.

Yes, a test or review for all vehicle types would be good.


We carry those gooey fibrous plugs in both our cars, punctures being a very common occurrence around here due to the terrible state Tamworth Regional Council maintains our gravel road in, with annual toppings of sharp shale shards. We also carry compressors in the cars.

Repairing flats ourselves (except for the occasional huge gash in a tyre) saves us hundreds of dollars per year in avoided $20-25 puncture repairs at local tyre repair shops. One local from a bit further out had 32 punctures in 1 month - it can get extremely expensive to drive this road! What is really annoying is when a near new tyre is wrecked by the shale :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:


I have also heard rumours that some tyre repairers won’t repair tyres which have been exposed to a cans contents, resulting in full tyre replacement if and when cans are used.


I have heard that also, but has anyone had first hand experience with being refused a repair because a can was used? A few years ago I got suckered into a new (spare) tyre because of how the puncture hole elongated, but then learnt an old fashioned plug should have fixed it just fine. At that moment I finally understood the tyre shop had the ethics of a dodgy lawyer. It would not surprise me that some might prefer to profit where they can when they can, no pun intended.


The plugs we use are apparently illegal to use, I assume because they might let the tyre go down if not installed properly. IMO, roads covered in sharp rocks are more risky, and should be illegal!


Vicroads has a position on repairs and plugs. This is dated 2000 but is still current per Vicroads web site.

They explicitly allow ‘mushroom headed’ plugs to be used from the inside, and plugs to be used as temporary repairs inserted from the outside. Bob Jane specifically references properly used plugs.


It would be good to know if that’s for real or just a sales angle, and whether opinion differs between companies.

There would be a lot of outlawed roads around here. I’ve seen 8 of the string repairs used to fix a single stake in a sidewall … 2 of the other tyres used the rest of our strings … admittedly we were 50k or so from the nearest road :slight_smile:


We purchased a car in 2018 (a 2015 model) that had no spare tyre at all.
When we got a puncture in Brisbane the first week it was a chance to try out the free roadside assistance number that came with the car (which was good, brought “loan” replacement wheel and tyre, and fitted it).
And we purchased a tyre sealant kit when we picked up our own wheel (with new tyre).

As more and more cars have no space designed for a spare tyre, I hope the technology of aerosol cans (and plugs) keeps pace.


I had a 2009 Prius iTech with no spare tyre. Came with a single use compressor / goo combination unit. Worked perfectly. Tyre inflated and didn’t leak.
Took it to a tyre place ASAP. They plugged the tyre which didn’t give any subsequent trouble.
However Toyota didn’t have a replacement compressor / goo combination unit in Australia and estimated many months and (from memory) $300-$400 to order one in.
I bought 2 cans of pressure pack goo from a car parts store and re-fitted the used compressor in case the “cans” didn’t get the tyre back to the correct pressure. Never had to try that.


While I still can, I refuse to buy a car without a full size spare wheel, and after I have developed a short list, it is the first question I ask. The other permutations are just unworkable in Australia for distance drivers, although I realise that all our cars are now imported and that Australia represents only about 1% of the world market.
We were returning to Melbourne from a family visit to Canberra last year on a wet Sunday. There was an upmarket SUV by the side of the highway with a shredded tyre and abandoned. The vehicle either came with no spare or a “repair kit” which was useless in this instance. Even temporary use spares have severe limitations. I considered the possibilities for the owner. The nearest town of any size was about 50kms away, and it was Sunday. He may have had to wait until Monday morning and be told that, sorry, we do not have one of those tyres and will have to get one from Sydney. They might have been back on the road 24 hours later. Hopefully they were luckier than this.


For the last 10 or so years I have frequently travelled over the Newell highway between Brisbane and Melbourne as well some travels around central NSW and an occasional trip to Townville. The work SUV I had and our personal car only had micky-mouse spares (better than no spare but given you can only do a max speed of about 80k and travel a limited distance - good luck especially if on a dirt road).
My solution has been to buy a full size mag wheel and appropriate tyre. I had a special frame made that attached to the towbar. Attached all the required lights and numberplate and It rotated down for access to the boot. Expensive and ungainly, but at least I have peace of mind when I do a long distance travel.


As a Campground Host for Parks Victoria, I had the curious pleasure of helping a BMW X1 driver who found his run-flat tyre wasn’t much use on the gravel road in a national park. The road wasn’t that bad, but he still put a rock through his run-flat sidewall. No jack supplied with the X1 either, so goo wouldn’t have had an opportunity to work! What use is a 4WD that can’t handle gravel roads! Many days later, after he found the local garages didn’t stock any replacement for his fancy Michelin run-flat, and waiting for one to be trucked out from Melbourne, he departed vowing to sell his pretend 4WD when he got back to the city :slight_smile:


Some new cars only offer a tyre repair kit; no spare at all. Even the somewhat ordinary Toyota Corolla Hybrid ZR drops the full-size and space-saver spares of it’s lower-end brethren. Why would you pay for the top-dollar model just to lose all spare tyres? :wink:


Is there any reason owners of these ridiculous no spare wheel vehicles can’t purchase another wheel to use as a spare? I really can’t imagine driving any distance without a spare, flats are a frequent fact of life here!


One obvious, model dependent. Where do you put it? A functional ‘spare well’ is sometimes missing as well as the spare, and a ‘spare well’ sized for an emergency tyre is not big enough for a full sized one. The boot? The roof? Then where to put the dirty flat?

Our wonderful continuously watered down to suit the manufacturers standardisation ADRs are perfect for [screwing] us, yes?


Our younger daughter previously had a Mazda 3 Maxx Sports hatchback which came with a “wheelbarrow” spare wheel.

When she was preparing to drive from Cairns to Perth, I bought a matching alloy wheel and tyre and placed it into the wheel well, and then placed some pieces of 70mm x 38mm pine on the boot floor so as to support the moulded boot liner.

Worked fine and was still in place when the car was sold.


Perhaps the dirty flat was never fit for purpose, self evident! :thinking:

You could like many others just leave it where it lies? Being a responsible Aussie you could avoid littering, take it with you, and return it to the nearest brand dealership for a full refund under Australian Consumer Law. Rim and tyre or the whole vehicle, I guess there is a choice? :wink:


I bought a new 2018 BMW Gran Coupe and it did not come with a spare tyre, but the car has “Run-Flat” tyres. I had never heard of these before, but apparently due to the tyre construction these tyres are safer and less likely to go flat as quickly as normal tyres. The computer inside the car informs the driver when tyre pressure is getting low so that you can get them checked and get the puncture repaired before it becomes dangerous. Has anyone had prior experience with this before? I am aware that these tyres are most costly than the norm.