Air out: A comparison of tire repair kits: The best alternatives to the spare wheel

According to the General German Automobile Club (ADAC), battery problems are by far the most common reason why drivers call out the "yellow angels".

Air out: A comparison of tire repair kits: The best alternatives to the spare wheel

According to the General German Automobile Club (ADAC), battery problems are by far the most common reason why drivers call out the "yellow angels". Only a few seek help from the mobile mechanics because of a flat tire. Why? Because a flat tire is pretty much the only problem that you can solve yourself as an average consumer and layman on a car without a control device or car expertise. At least if you have a ready-to-use spare wheel with the right tools or a practical tire repair kit and a small compressor for the necessary tire pressure on board. In this article you will find out what is important in the event of a breakdown, how to use breakdown kits correctly and when there is no way around the spare wheel.

The most cost-effective option in the event of a flat tyre. But also one that only works reliably at temperatures between 5 and 30 degrees Celsius and is only recommended until the next workshop. The principle is simple. Foam or a liquid is sprayed into the tire via the valve and seals the leak from the inside. Important: The corpus delicti should have a maximum diameter of five millimeters. Once sealed, the remaining gas in the can provides the tire pressure that will take you to the nearest workshop. If possible, do not drive faster than 50 kilometers per hour (km/h) with the repaired tire. Some manufacturers recommend releasing the gas after driving ten kilometers and inflating the tire with a compressor. In any case, pay attention to the instructions for use on the tire repair spray. Caution: tire sprays and other sealants only seal leaks in the tire tread. If the side wall is damaged, they are ineffective. Also check regularly how long the product can still be used according to the manufacturer. Before longer trips, it might be worth swapping out the old one for a new breakdown spray.

Tire sealants in so-called squeeze bottles work according to a similar principle. The filler and sealant usually consists of a latex or rubber mixture. In contrast to the spray, squeeze bottles cannot do without an additional compressor. In order to be able to fill in the sealant, the valve insert must first be screwed out of the tire. The tool required for this is usually part of the tire repair kit. Then an adapter is screwed onto the valve. Now it's up to you to have strong muscles, because the liquid doesn't get into the tires by itself. Empty bottle? That's when the compressor comes into play. It needs electricity and must be supplied with electricity from the cigarette lighter or another source in the car in order to be able to measure and pump the residual air pressure. The same applies here: take the quickest route to the nearest workshop and have the "patched" tire replaced with a new one.

A little more comfortable and without sweat you can get the broken down car going again with a complete tire repair kit. Sets like the AirMan Resq Pilot usually consist of a bottle of sealant, a 12-volt air compressor and, ideally, connection accessories for bicycle tires or footballs as a little extra. In contrast to many squeeze bottle versions, the bottle with the sealant is placed on the compressor. He pumps it into the tire quite comfortably. But the same applies here: Only repair leaks on the tread that are no larger than five to six millimeters. If in doubt, pull up the spare wheel. If you don't have one on board, a call to roadside assistance is the last resort.

Not every flat tire can be avoided. Often it's just bad luck. Nevertheless, the ADAC advises car owners to check the tire pressure at least every two weeks. In addition, the experts recommend regular visual inspections in order to detect cracks at an early stage and to check the wear and tear of the tires in general. The ADAC is critical of the fact that fewer and fewer new cars are equipped with a temporary spare wheel. In the event of a breakdown, this significantly limits the options for a safe onward journey. The last and most important piece of advice from the ADAC: A repaired tire must always be replaced. And what many drivers don't know: cleaning the inside of the rim that is stuck with the sealant is time-consuming and correspondingly expensive.

By the way: It is not mandatory in Germany or Austria to carry a spare wheel, emergency wheel or tire repair kit with you. Unlike in Spain, Croatia, the Czech Republic or Slovakia. A spare wheel is mandatory there. If this is not provided for in your car, you must have a tire repair kit or repair spray on board.

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