Punctured tires aren’t unusual however driving with them can be disastrous and even fatal. The tire sealant is a liquid substance that helps in sealing a puncture temporarily by coating the inside of the tire (or tube). The fibrous liquid containing special fibers and mica particles accumulate and bond to the rubber which seals the puncture.
When a tire punctures, the suction created by air escaping carries the sealant to fill in the hole/cavity from inside. The liquid base is the mechanism for transporting the binding materials to the hole/cavity. The base is usually glycol which holds many components like binding agents, mica, cellulose fibers, and rubber particles that intertwine and patch up the cavity.
When the tire punctures, the liquid rushes in with the leaking air and leaves behind a solid mixture patching up the hole. Tire sealants are also available with an aerosol base which are one-time use products that can be used for emergencies. These are advisable to be used on highways under emergency situations and the sealant is injected through a valve stem which does not require the valve core to be removed.
How Reliable Is It?
Sometimes the tiny obstacles on the road can be unavoidable like nails, screws, or even shards of glass that can easily puncture a tire and a tire sealant is the easiest fix. However, it is not a permanent solution. Tire sealant is a liquid-based plug-in to temporarily seal the cavity. It is held in by a liquid-made mixture and driving your vehicle on the road again solely relying on it is not safe for yourself or other drivers. Tire sealants also don’t help if a tire is flat to the rim and this will need other effective and more permanent measures to fix it.
Tire sealant offers a quick and temporary fix to drive your vehicle to safety. Especially if you’re on a highway and would like to drive the vehicle to a safer location or if you’ve spotted a way to repair the puncture and want to drive on for a little longer. The tire sealant does help you to get back on the road and prevents further damage to the tire. This is far better than driving with a leaking tire or a ruptured tire which can altogether destroy the tire.
In emergency situations, instead of waiting around with a punctured or flat tire, you can drive to the nearest location for a permanent fix. It is not advisable to drive the vehicle for more than 15-20 mins solely depending on a tire sealant. Although this will depend largely on the conditions your vehicle is being driven under, the road, the speed of the vehicle, the material of the tire, and how long it takes to get to safety. It is advisable to drive the vehicle at lower speeds and not overdo the seal the plug-in provides.
As far as its shelf life and usage is concerned, tire sealants ideally shouldn’t be left in your tire for more than 2 years. It is advisable to get it checked and replaced every 2 years. Even though most tire sealants have a shelf life of approximately 4 years depending on their constituents, there is a high chance that the liquid will dry up. How long a sealant will last has a lot to do with the material of the tire wall and the weather conditions it is exposed to. Leaving it in a tire for over 2 years could also corrode the rim of the tires.
Glycol-based tire sealants are water-based and have an indefinite shelf life. However, latex is a non-water-based sealant and can dry up after around 15000km. The material contained in the sealant has the most to do with how long it lasts. Opting for Propylene Glycol sealants is better as they are water-based and have an indefinite shelf life. It is non-flammable, non-toxic, and can be reused. Regardless, it’s important for safety reasons to get the sealant replaced and furthermore the tire cleaned up and the puncture properly repaired.
Tire sealants are only a temporary fix. However, these have proven to be the most convenient and easiest fix in cases of punctures and are much better than driving with a ruptured tire. Driving long distances at high speeds solely depending on the sealant regardless of the material can be risky and it is highly recommended that the punctured tire be repaired.
Even though most tire sealants have a shelf life of around 4 years, it is highly probable that they dry up, especially latex-based sealants can corrode the rim and also make it difficult to be cleaned out and replaced and lead to a ruined tire. While glycol-based sealants are more convenient to use and can be cleaned out or reused, they are still subject to drying up if left in the tire and this can be due to various factors including the weather conditions it is exposed to.