Astoria Mechanic | Collision Repair | Tolimas Auto Center

Why Everyone Should Keep a Tire Inflator in their Car

Why Everyone Should Keep a Tire Inflator in their Car

Flat tires are an awful inconvenience that can be quickly resolved by having a portable tire inflator in your car. Most flat tires can be temporarily mended by simply connecting them to a tire inflator and pumping them back up. This is not a permanent repair by any stretch of the imagination. This is a temporary solution that might last a few days, hours, or minutes depending on how badly the air leak is on the tire. But it is a temporary repair that will allow you to drive to a trusted mechanic shop for a permanent tire or rim repair that might save you money.

How keeping a tire inflator in your car can save you money

A tire inflator can save you money in multiple ways. It prevents you from further damaging your current tires. Most tire punctures can be repaired, but driving on flat or low tires will cut the internal steel belt that supports the sidewall of your tire. When that belt is damaged the tire is unsafe for road use as there is no reinforcement for the rubber that makes up the sidewall and it will balloon out like a hernia on your tire.

Tire with damaged steel belt
Tire bulge caused by internal damage to the tire’s support structure

At this point there is no repairing this tire and if anyone drives on a tire in this condition the likelihood of a tire blow out is imminent, which can cause an accident. If you see any bubbles on the sidewall of your tire then you have to get it replaced as soon as possible. This is entirely preventable by inflating a low or flat tire before you have drive on it, which is why you should always keep a portable tire inflator in every car you own.

If the tire leak is severe you will be able to hear a whistling as you inflate the tire. If the air escaping the tire is audible then you don’t have much time to drive on the tire, but as long as you keep an eye on the tire and keep it inflated you can limp the car to the closest shop.

The most tire leaks are located on the tire treat and are caused by simply running over a nail, screw, or road debris. The next most common leak point is the tire valve stem. Many people try to save a few dollars by going to the cheapest tire place to have their tires mounted and balanced. These shops will also cut corners in order to give you the cheapest and lowest prices. They usually cut corners by not replacing the tire valve stems. So you might have brand new tires with old tire valve stems which will degrade and leak after a few years. This is why using a reputable shop is important.

Schrader Valves
Tire Valves that allow you to control the amount of pressure in your tire. They tend to degrade and cause leaks as they age

Why Tire Inflators are Better than Spare Tires for the Average Consumer

Tire inflators simply connect to your cigarette lighter or battery and work right away. Spare tires require you to know the jack points in the frame under the car to safely lift it. You might also have to deal with lug nuts that are stuck in order to remove the flat tire and replace it with the spare. In order to avoid all this hassle a tire inflator will allow you to drive the car to a repair shop to have the air leak repaired or the tire replaced. Finally a tire inflator can get you back on the road in about 5 minutes when changing a spare tire will take longer.

Same as an emergency spare tire, a compact tire inflator is also a temporary solution meant to get you back on the road long enough to get to a shop for a permanent repair or replacement of the tire with the air leak. For light duty and emergency use we recommend a tire inflator like the Slime 40051. For heavy duty use such as large truck tires we recommend a tire inflator like the Viair 88P.

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