Your tires are where the rubber meets the road – literally – when it comes to the safety and performance of your car. That means, if your tire is leaky, you could be putting your safety at risk.
A leaky tire causes low tire pressure, which can decrease fuel economy, and put you at risk for a blowout. It also decreases the ability of your car to handle properly, making it more difficult to respond to emergency situations or drive in inclement weather.
In this article, we’ll discuss how you can diagnose and fix slow tire leaks. Don’t just ignore that low pressure sensor – check out this guide!
The Most Common Causes Of Slow Tire Leaks
There are three common issues that cause slow tire leaks. Let’s discuss each one of them now.
- Valve stem damage – New tires typically come with new valve stems, because the old ones tend to wear out. If you have older valve stems, they may go bad over time, due to use, dislocation, and exposure to chemicals on the road, such as road salt. They may corrode and go bad.
If your valve stem is damaged, there will be a slow and constant leak. This leak could come from either the body of the valve, or the base of the valve, where it meets the tire.
- Damage on the mounting surface of the tire – The mounting surface of the wheel, where the bead of the tire sits, can be damaged by corrosion over time, which may cause a leak as the tire pulls away from the mounting surface.
Damage to the mounting surface can also be caused if you drive your car into a curb or step bump, or over a pothole. If the metal surface is deformed, a slow leak is likely to occur.
- Puncture damage – This is probably the most common cause of slow tire leaks. When you run over a nail, screw, or a sharp piece of glass or another piece of debris, it tends to get stuck in your tire.
Contrary to popular belief, puncture damage usually doesn’t lead to an immediate flat tire or blowout, in most cases. This is because the object usually remains lodged in the rubber, preventing air from leaking quickly.
Diagnosing A Slow Tire Leak
There are a few ways you can diagnose a slow tire leak
- TPMS (Tire pressure monitoring sensor) – If your TPMS is lit, one of your tires is under-inflated. If you inflate them all, and the TPMS goes off after just a few days, chances are you’ve got a slow leak.
- Manual pressure readings – You should check your tire pressure manually every week or so, even if you have a TPMS. If one of your tires seems perpetually under inflated, chances are you have a leak.
- The “spray method” – If you want to confirm that you have a leaky tire, you can mix soap and water in a spray bottle. Shake it up, and spray it all over the tire. If you see bubbling on any surface of the tire, you’ve located the source of your leak!
How To Fix A Slow Tire Leak
If you have a slow tire leak, you’ll want to have it repaired professionally as soon as possible. In some cases, you may want to keep a tire plug or patch kit in your vehicle. These kits are easy to use, and can keep your tire inflated until you bring it to a professional tire repair shop.
To permanently fix a tire leak caused by a puncture, you will need a “plug and patch”. This method of repair involves removing the tire from the wheel, and placing a combination plug and patch on the tire.
If your leak is caused by a faulty valve, you may need to replace it or your tire. Leaks caused by a damaged mounting surface may require you to replace the entire wheel.
Get Help With Tire Repair Now At Ride Time!
If you need to repair a tire damaged by a puncture, or you think your valve or mounting surface may be damaged, we can help!