Tires: Slow Leaks

In another post, I talked about TPMS (tire pressure monitoring systems). The annoying part about TPMS is if you have a tire (or tires) that leak very slowly. Every tire, even perfectly new tires that are properly mounted, inflated, and balanced will leak air.  It’s simple physics.  But there are tires that leak more air than they should. What can you do?

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Glad you asked. In this post, we will look at leaky tires and what you can do about them.

Get a New Tire

Okay, so that’s the obvious answer. However, you may have just gotten this tire, or you may not have the money to buy a new one.  If you just bought the tire, definitely go back to the dealer,

mechanic, or tire store and ask them to fix the problem. Usually, any reputable service center or tire shop will give you a limited warrantee. It’s rare for a new tire to leak, but it does happen. It is possible that on the way home, you ran over a screw or piece of metal and that caused the leak. Or, the service shop may not have mounted the tire properly.  In any case, for new tires, it is pretty much of a no-brainer to take it back.

Older Tires

Tires are subjected to a tremendous amount of abuse. They are subjected to heat, cold, physical stresses, road wear, potholes, road debris, and the occasional slam against the curb when your teenager is parking the car. It’s not a surprise that tires can acquire slow leaks over time.

Sometimes the bead of the tire can break loose of the rim. This is pretty common. Or, a small screw or nail might have worked its way into the tread or sidewall. This can sometimes cause a slow leak instead of an instant flat.

Another thing to check is the valve stem. It is possible that a valve stem will begin to leak because it has come loose or is damaged. You can repair this yourself with a valve core tool and a new valve core. Or, have a professional replace it.

Emergency Tire Sealant

Emergency tire sealant comes in a can that usually has a nozzle (sometimes a small hose), and contains compressed air and a sealing gel. This can be great in an emergency, but it is not recommended to use for tires that are simply slowly leaking air over time.  They should only be used if you absolutely need to use them. I know of one product that is more of a green gel.  I used it in a pinch, and it worked great, but I made sure to change the tire as soon as I could.

Tire Plug Kits

If (and only if) the slow leak is in the tread due to a nail, screw, or sharp metal, you may be able to repair it using a tire plug kit.  However, if the leak is in the sidewall or bead, DO NOT try to repair it using a plug kit. It could explode.

Better Safe than Sorry

I truly believe in running on good, safe, reliable tires. It is one of the things I insist on.  Tires can be tricky, and it is best to have a professional you trust to fix the leak by putting a new tire on a mechanically sound rim.

Written by Gary Pradel