Have you ever experienced a flat tire while driving on the road?
If you have, then you should know that most times the situation is because you have a reduced tire pressure caused by a leak.
In another situation, you could have a slow leak because your tire has a bad valve stem.
Find out more about low tire pressure and bad valve stem in this article.
The Most Common Causes Of Slow Tire Leaks
Generally, there are different things that could be responsible for a leaky tire. They include:
Tire Puncture Damage
One of the major causes of a slow tire leak is tire puncture damage. Unfortunately, this puncture doesn’t cause the tire to go flat immediately, as most people think that it does. In fact, it prevents air from leaking out.
However, you shouldn’t let the puncturing object remain in the tire for so long but look for ways to fix it.
Another cause of a slow tire leak is wheel damage. It is when there is a problem around the location where the tire bead meets the wheel rim.
Wheel damage could be a result of hitting a curb, pothole, or speed bump too hard. The force of impact damages the wheel’s metal surface, causing the tire to pull away from the wheel’s mounting surface.
Valve Stem Damage
A valve stem damage is another factor responsible for a slow and constant leak in a car tire. It could also be that the valve stems are worn out.
Either of these is often a result of exposure to destructive elements, corrosion, or bad products.
Diagnosing A Slow Leak
Whether you are experiencing a puncture, rim, or tire mounting surface damage, you need to know how to diagnose a slow leak properly.
Here are ways how to do that:
Manual Pressure Readings
If you have a leaking tire, the Manual Pressure Readings method is an active way to check. It means checking each of your tires regularly to find out if any of them is/looks underinflated.
Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensor (TPMS)
Most high-end, commercial, or passenger vehicles are equipped with the Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensor (TPMS), a feature used to find out the air psi level in a tire. This feature will help determine if pressure is low or not – if it turns on, a tire is underinflated.
If after you’ve inflated them all and the TPMS turns on, you are likely experiencing a slow tire leak.
The Spray Bottle Method
The last technique to diagnose a tire leak is to use the spray method. You can do this by making a mixture of dish soap and water. Then pour the soapy water into a bottle and then spray it all over the tire’s sidewall.
If there are bubbles on the surface, that means there is a leaking tire.
How Low is Too Low for Tire Pressure
Low tire pressure is anything less than 20 psi. It is considered a flat tire. The ideal pressure range is between 32 to 35 psi – it may reduce by 1 psi due to temperature change.
Driving when your tire is flat is detrimental to your car and safety.
If you ever notice you have a slow leak, you should fix it – add air and seal the area.
Can you drive with broken valve stems?
Yes, you can but it isn’t advisable.
Your valve stem could get old, crack, leak, or become brittle due to various factors. If that happens, your tire won’t be able to hold air properly.
Interestingly, you can keep driving with a broken valve stem; however, you will start experiencing issues. Your tire will lose air slowly until it becomes entirely flat and unable to provide a good ride quality.
Can a valve stem on a tire be fixed?
Yes, you can.
If you have a tire leak because of a broken or worn-out valve stem, you can repair it. However, you should only have that done by a professional.
The repair method is a “plug and patch” procedure.
It involves separating tires from the wheels and then placing the combination plug and patch on the affected tyre.
But before that happens, you should use a tire plug or patch kit on the affected tyre. You should have these tools in your vehicle.
A tire plug and patch kit will help keep your tire inflated until you can drive it safely to a tire repair shop.
In the worst-case scenario (especially the mounting surface), you may have to get new tires and rims.
How To Fix A Slow Tire Leak
Want to know how to fix tire leaks? Follow the steps below.
Step 1: Get Your Tools Ready
Before anything else, the first thing you need to do is to get the tools that will be used in fixing the leak.
Most times, all you will need is a valve stem tool and a valve core tool. You can get them at any tire shop or auto parts store.
Step 2: Inspect The Valve
When your tools are ready, you should proceed to check out your tires and inspect the valve – notice the changes. You can do a leak test to be sure of the situation.
The simple method you can use is rubbing soapy water over the valve stem with your finger – ensure that it remains uncapped while doing this.
If you notice bubbles forming on these stems, that means air is escaping and you have a leaking valve.
Step 3: Deflate The Tire
When you find out the faulty valve, the next step is to deflate your tire. You need to do this to work effectively. It is also important to do this to remove the old valve core properly.
You can also repair the valve while the tires are attached but you have to consider safety.
As soon as the tire is separated from the wheels, get your valve stem tool to remove the screw from the tire’s valve.
And while trying to remove the old core, you should wear safety glasses to prevent bodily harm.
Step 4: Clean the Valve Stem
Now that you have removed the old core from the tire, you need to clean the valve stem properly so that obstructions won’t cause damage to the new one.
You can do this by using the tapered end of your valve core tool. You can also use this valve core tool to clean your tire’s inside and outside edge.
Step 5: Install New Core
The final step is to fix a new valve core using the stem tool. Likewise, you should use this tool to install the new valve core and tighten it by hand.
Once you are done installing the new valve stem, you should re-inflate your tire and observe your tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).
How Long Does It Take to Fix a Leaky Tire Valve?
If your car tire has a damaged valve, you should replace it immediately at the nearest tire shop. By following the steps described above, you should be done in 10 minutes.
Every vehicle owner needs to invest themselves in the maintenance of their automotive. If there is a hole in the tire, then it needs to be fixed immediately because it is a threat to safety.
Likewise, if the tire valve stem is damaged, you should replace it, so you don’t end up with a leaky tire.
And if you don’t know if there is a problem, you should conduct any of the tests listed above and look out for obvious signs and symptoms.