How to Find a Slow Leak in a Tire

Finding a slow leak in your tire can be quite difficult, especially as the name sounds, 'slow' leak. It is very slow and not visible.

A slow leak in the tire is not apparent, as the outright flats. This also eventually leads to a flat tire, but it just comes gradually. Your tire loses air slowly, and it causes loss of gas in the car. A slow leak can happen in any tire, new or old, but it can also be easily fixed by any individual. If you notice your tire doesn't hold air for a long time, you might be dealing with a slow leak.

What is a slow tire leak?

Slow tire leaks are just the way they sound, 'slow.' They are gradual exposures in a tire that makes it lose pressure over an extended period. They are not easily traceable, except for the outcome, which is that your tire begins to go flat as time goes on. Slow leaks are not always caused by punctures but through the valve or the wheel.

You can have slow leaks if you have a bad valve stem, or if the wheel is damaged. You need to know precisely what is causing the leak; then you can understand how to go about the repair or replacement.

Possible reasons why a tire loses air slowly 

Whenever you notice a flat in one of your tires, the first thing that comes to mind is to look for a puncture or even a tear. But sometimes, these are not visible. All you see is the result; what then do you do?

It has been investigated and found out that there are two primary reasons tires lose air without any visible damage to it. These are valve stem fault and mounting issues.

Valve stems 

Bad or damaged valve stems can cause slow leaks in a tire. The valve stem is that hole through which you inflate your tire. It is located outside the tire, so it is vulnerable to cracks or deterioration. New tires come with new valves because they can quickly go bad due to constant exposure. 

And once you have a bad valve, you'll have a slow leak through the valve body.

Mounting problem

This is another major cause of slow leaks in a tire. This is where the outer layer of the tire rests on. If there is damage to this area, there can be a possibility of a leak. The tire attaches to the wheel in this area, and any damage to it can cause air to escape from it. The mounting area can become damaged due to corrosion or can be dented when hit against something.

Other reasons you can have a slow tire leak are as follows: 

Weather change 

There can be a loss of air pressure in tires when the weather suddenly changes. The tire pressure can reduce by some pounds for every temperature change that happens. Most times, this temperature change occurs overnight, and you'll be surprised to wake up to a flat tire which wasn't there the previous night. 

A repair that is now malfunctioning 

You might have recently repaired your tire due to other damages, but then it can now begin to malfunction. The result of this can be a slow leak in the tire. 

Underinflated tire 

Underinflated tires wear out more rapidly and cause more damage to the tire.

What are the signs of a slow tire leak?

There are some things to look out for to know you're dealing with a slow tire leak. Like it has been established, slow leaks are not too visible, you only see the outcome what they have done.

  1. Regular flats even after replacing your tire(s)
  2. Intense tire pressure when you park your car for a lengthy duration of time.
  3. Intense tire pressure noticed in one tire when other tires maintain normal air pressure.

Locating the air leak

The best and most common way to find small air leaks in a tire is the soap and water magic. It always works. Mix soap and water and pour over the tire where you suspect a leak. You can also make use of a spray bottle. Spray the tire all over with the soapy water till bubbles begin to form. The area of the leak will produce bubbles in the soapy water. There, you found your leaking spot. You can then mark the area to identify for repair.

Another way is to remove the tire from the wheel and insert it in a tub of water. Bubbles will form at the point of the air leak.

You can also inspect the tire to know the area of the leak. If you listen carefully, you will hear a whizzing sound that tells you where the air is leaking from.

Fixing the issue

Fixing the issue of slow tire leak hinges on the area of the leak.

If the leak is in the valve stem, you'll need to replace or repair the valve. This can be easily gotten in car shops. The process of repair is easy and quick. However, you need some tools to help in the repair. You will need a valve stem equipment and a replacement valve core.

Once you have ascertained that the leak is from the valve stem, the first thing is to deflate the tire. You can repair the valve without removing the tire, but it is best to remove it for safety. After deflating the tire, use the valve stem equipment to detach the old valve from the tire. Then clean the valve stem. Remove all dirt from the area. Put in the new valve into the tire, tighten the valve by hand, but do not tighten too much in order not to damage the tire. Then you inflate the tire back to the appropriate pressure.

If the leak is due to mounting issues, it is expedient to know what caused the item in the first place. Mounting problems are caused by overuse, corrosion, or dent of the wheel. If the wheel is severely damaged, the tire would be removed to fix the problem and then remounted. Sometimes, after remounting, there would need to replace the tire, but if the tires are still in shape, you can continue the use of it. 

Easily find and fix a leak in a tire

Is it ok to drive a vehicle with a slow tire leak?

Driving a car with a slow tire leak is extremely dangerous. The best thing is to attend to the issue with immediate effect. The point of slow tire leak can be hazardous such that the tire can fall off while you're driving, and this will cause you to lose control of the car leading to injury or accident.

How to Find a Slow Leak in a Tire FAQs

Why does my tire lose pressure often? 

This can be caused by damaged valve stem or mounting issues. Time, vulnerability to road impurities can result in the failure of these parts of the tire.

Can I replace just the one tire that is losing air? 

It is possible to replace one tire, but you have to make sure it matches the pattern of the other tires. 

Can a tire with a slow leak be fixed?

It can be fixed based on the extent of damage and the type of injury. Some leaks can be repaired, while some need total replacement. 

What could cause very slow leaks?

Different factors cause these. It can be due to maintenance issues or harsh driving situations.

Why would the valve stem break? 

This can be caused by water penetration in the valve stem, it freezes, and when it dries out, it can begin to crack. 

Final words and recommendations

Slow tire leaks can be annoying. But once you know what to do in case you have one, you have more confidence. You don't always have to go to the mechanic when you have any issue of leaks in your tire. You can fix it yourself with a couple of tools.

Knowing what to do when you have an emergency case of slow tire leaks goes a long way in helping yourself and putting you in safety. Even if you have to go to the mechanic and you have had knowledge of how to fix it, you can tell when the mechanic is not doing the right thing or using the right tools. 

David V. Williamson

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