A slow tire leak is more than just a nuisance. A leak can lead to low tire pressure. Not to mention, prolonged running on an underinflated tire can lead to more extensive tire damage or even cause a dangerous blowout.
If you’re experiencing a slow leak, here are some things to look for:
A tire puncture: It is a common misconception that a puncture will cause the tire to immediately go flat. However, in many cases the object that caused the puncture remains lodged in the tire and prevents the air from leaking out quickly. As with all tire leaks, it is important not to ignore a puncture. Eventually the object will either wear down and/or work its way out of the tire. For more on this read our article How to Repair a Tire with a Safe, Permanent Fix.
Wheel damage: Another common cause for slow tire leaks is damage to the area where the tire bead meets the rim. This type of damage is typically cause by the driver hitting the curb, taking a speed bump at high speeds OR those dreaded potholes! The impact deforms the wheel’s metal surface which may cause the tire to pull away from the mounting surface of the wheel.
Valve stem damage: The third most common cause for slow tire leaks is worn out or damaged valve stems. Time, use and exposure to elements can cause your valve stems to wear out and cause leaks.
Know you have a tire puncture?
Learn the difference between a temporary repair and a safe permanent fix!
Diagnosing your tire leak:
If your vehicle is equipped with TPMS, you will know right away if you have a leak. If the sensor light on your dashboard goes off, you inflate all the tires back to proper pressure and the light goes back on a few days later – you likely have a leak. If your vehicle does not have TPMS, its important to check your tire pressure regularly.
Once you’ve identified that you have a leak, use TECH Chek to locate the source of your leak. Simply spray the product all around the tire. Where the surface of the tire begins to bubble is likely the source of your leak.
So, what do you do now?
It’s important to have your tire diagnosed by a professionally trained tire shop or mobile tire repair service as soon as possible. In the case of a puncture, you may want to use a tire repair kit to keep your tire properly inflated until you can have it serviced. The leak should then be permanently fixed using a proper tire repair consisting of a cured rubber stem and repair unit.
If the leak is caused by a damaged valve, a trained tire technician can typically replace the valve at a minimal cost. In some cases, however, the tire may need replaced.
If the leak is caused by a damaged wheel, a tire technician may be able to reseat and seal the tire using a bead sealer. However, if the damage to the wheel is significant, unfortunately that means you may need to replace the wheel itself.
To read more about the types of damage that can and cannot be repaired, click here!