Here’s the scenario:
You stop at a gas station and notice that one of your tires is a little flat. You fill it with air and drive away. Much to your annoyance, within a couple of days or maybe even a week, your tires are flattening again, and they need more air. You have a slow leak. You take your tires to a garage or a tire shop, but they can’t find anything wrong. They might even dunk your tire into a tub of water to look for bubbles. Still nothing.
There are Several Possibilities as to Why Your Tires Lose Air:
- a hole in the tread, probably from a nail or something sharp in the road.
- a hole in the sidewall, probably from an encounter with something sharp on the road.
- a poor seal where the tire attaches to the wheel, which lets air escape.
- a loose or improperly functioning tire valve.
- a repair that is now malfunctioning
What Can You Do?
The time honored method to hunt for leaks is to spray the tire with soapy water (try 20% detergent to keep it a little more viscous), and watch for bubbles, especially in the suspect areas listed above. Try this while your tires have full air pressure and are still heated from driving. Removing your wheels and submerging your wheel and tire set in a water bucket usually reveals the leak as well.
Sometimes your slow-leak tire might only lose air when you are driving. You might have a pinhole puncture so tiny it is does not even widen enough to let out air until your tire heats when it drives on the road. That temporarily expands the size of the pinhole and also increases the tire air pressure to push out with more force.
If your tire is not perfectly set on the wheel, sand or grit might work its way in between the wheel and your tire, creating a small opening that lets air out. However, like the pinhole situation, a leak where the tire bead meets the wheel can be intermittent and difficult to find.
Likewise, if a tire installer does not insert a new valve with the new tire, it increases the chance that it will leak air. In fact, the valve is very often the source of a slow leak and something you want to check with the soapy water.
Sometimes it is difficult for even a tire expert to find one source of the leak. If your tires are old, and leaking in multiple areas, the best solution may be to just replace the leaky tire. For great prices and a huge selection of new tire options, stop by anytime! We are sure to have the size and tire style you need, at a price you can afford.