Most people know the frustration of a slow leaking tire, and you only seem to notice when it’s underinflated and already running late for work! There are various reasons why your tire is slowly leaking but have no fear; most slow leak problems can be easily fixed with the right crew of vehicle maintenance experts!
What is a Slow Leak?
Tires naturally lose air at about one psi per month, but a slow tire leak occurs when your tire gradually loses more than the typical air loss. Over time, air leakage will cause an underinflated tire, eventually flat.
How Can I Tell if My Tire Has a Slow Leak?
Unlike large tire punctures, the leak source can be challenging to find, and you’ll rarely hear a hissing sound. If your vehicle is equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) that monitors tire pressure, then a warning signal will appear on your dashboard when there is a significant PSI issue. If your TPMS sensor frequently shows this warning, you may have a slow tire leak.
If your vehicle does not have the TPMS system, it will be more challenging to determine if your tire has a slow leak since it happens gradually. Suppose you notice that your tire(s) frequently seem underinflated, and you’ve had to air up your tire multiple times; then, you may have a slow tire leak.
If you suspect a slow tire leak, you can confirm your suspicion by doing an easy test. Apply soapy water over the treads, sidewalls, around the valve stem, and the tire beading. Wait a few minutes and inspect your tire; if you see any localized bubbly patches, you likely have a slow leak.
What Can Cause a Slow Tire Leak?
Hollywood likes to show tires exploding when something punctures a tire, but that’s not always the case. Sharp objects like nails, broken glass, or other road debris can get lodged in the tire and keep the tire “functional” as the air slowly leaks out. Sometimes, objects can create a tiny hole and fall out, but you won’t notice immediately.
Valve Stem Damage
The valve stem is part of your tire that helps regulate air pressure. You can inflate your tires and release air through the valve stem. A valve stem has many components, but the core and the cap are the two main parts. If you lose the cap, dirt, and debris can get stuck around the valve stem core and cause air leakage. The valve stem can also corrode, crack, or become brittle due to moisture, road salt, chemicals, or age.
Tire Bead & Rim Damage
Slow tire leaks can also occur where the tire bead meets the rim. The tire bead should snugly fit the rim to seal the tire to the rim for proper inflation. The rim can corrode from exposure to road salt or other aggressive chemicals, leading to tiny cracks where air can leak out. Damaged wheels can also result in air leakage. If you hit a pothole or curb, you could damage your rim, breaking the seal and causing a leak.
Normal Wear & Tear
Damage and air leakage can occur simply due to normal wear and tear. Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do but install new tires. The tire tread can wear down, and worn-down tires can start leaking through tiny cracks. Tires should generally be replaced every 25,000 to 50,000 miles depending on the tire condition, vehicle manufacturer, driving habits, and local road conditions.
I Have a Slow Tire Leak. What Do I Do?
Our experienced team at One Hour Tires can come directly to your home or place of work! We can replace, repair, and rotate your tires without you ever leaving home and potentially damaging your wheel further. You can submit a request online or call us for a faster response, and we’ll be on our way!