Tire inflator in a can -- safe to use?

I bought a can of Sentry Pack Tire Inflator 2 years ago before a car trip. It’s been in the back of my car ever since, going through 2 summers and 2 winters in Wisconsin. Yesterday I got my first flat in 42 years of driving. Before calling for a fix, I screwed the tire inflator can onto the valve stem and esto presto, nada. A little fizzle but no inflato.

When the spare was installed and I went to my trusted Firestone store (hate to name names, but…), they told me that the extremely explosive propellent in the can, even though even a small amount, would eventually rot the rubber posing a hazard. They would not remount the flat. They say I need a new tire.

What you think?

Do I go elsewhere for an opinion?

Are they right and my $5 can of inflator cost me $118 for a new tire?

If yes, I’m tossing the can in my wife’s car.

If yes, is this a matter I should take up with some agency to get a warning placed on the can that, while it might get you to a service station, you’ll need a new tire?

Thanks for your help

It all depends on whether or not Sentry Pack Tire Inflator is flammable. Not all “fix-a-flat” type products are flammable. If it isn’t flammable, show the idiot at Firestone the can.

If you don’t still have the can or the contents are flammable, go elsewhere for an opinion. Before you go, take the tire out of the trunk and see if you can hose it off to get rinse off whatever came out of the can. Then when you go elsewhere, don’t mention the Sentry Pack Tire Inflator.

Excellent advice. Thanks.
The can says the contents are “extremely flammable” and suggests the tire be inflated and deflated several times in the open before removing it from the rim. No mention of potential tire damage.

I’ll call the company tomorrow and ask though I’m not sure how much to trust them.

I’ll also go elsewhere if I can get the tire back from Firestone.

Thanks again.

The cans contain propane or butane or both. Once inside a tire, the mixture is way to “rich” to explode and it won’t hurt the tire. It’s almost impossible to get a tire repaired anymore unless you have the skill and equipment to do it yourself. Why repair a tire for $10 when you can sell one for $120 and avoid any lawyer problems down the road?? Tire repairs were a profit center for full-service gas stations but they are all gone now…You are on your own.

I actually used to work at a Firestone for a while. The corporate policy was not to work on any tire that has fix-a-flat in it.

The issue is that some kinds of fix-a-flat WERE prone to exploding when the tires were unmounted and I think Firestone actually had people killed by them, with expensive lawsuits ensuing. But they stopped making the explosive kind I think at least 8 or 10 years ago, but since they tend to just sit in people’s trunks so it’s quite possible there’s a lot of the exploding ones still out there. However, I think Firestone is just playing it safe because of the lawsuits and so taking it somewhere else shouldn’t be a problem.

Even the safe stuff does make an awful mess, so you might get charged more for the flat fix. Also, if you have a car with tire pressure monitoring, it can damage those sensors.

“Also, if you have a car with tire pressure monitoring, it can damage those sensors.”

I’m curious how fix-a-flat, which is the active ingredient in Viagra ); , can damage pressure monitoring systems that work off of the number of wheel rotations sensed by the ABS?

In my locale of Coastal NH very easy to get a tire repaired.

A local chain called Town Fair Tire in New England performs an internal patch and remount/balance for paltry $5. Excellent loss leader. They have performed this on two cars for me (thankfully as they were AWD Subaru requiring 4 tire replacement).

The only people who complain about tire repairs are those who seem to think sidewall(structural) repair is fine.

There are two kinds of tire pressure monitoring systems. One reads wheel speed via the ABS, as you describe, but the other has pressure monitors mounted inside the tire.