A few weeks ago, I found myself with a flat tire in the RX8. The air had been leaking out slowly over a few days, so I assumed that I had a nail in it, as usual.
Step 1) Remove the wheel from the vehicle, and spray soapy water all over the tread area of the tire. Watch for bubbles.
Strangely – I didn’t find an air leak. So I moved on to step 2, which I had almost forgot existed, because I always find a nail in my tire during step 1.
Step 2) Spray the tire valve stem, and the bead of the tire where it meets the wheel with the soapy water. Watch for bubbles.
The valve stem showed nothing, but when the soapy water pooled around the tire bead / edge of the rim, the bubbles showed their ugly bubble faces. Throughout the entire diameter of the backside of the wheel, air was clearly escaping. Fair enough. No nails for Jeremy this time.
Step 3) Break the tire free from the wheel so that the area leaking can be inspected.
Now, As much as I would love one, I don’t have a fancy tire machine to break the bead of the tire away from the wheel. Normally without a tire machine, this task is nearly an impossible one, but I had a shovel that had different ideas. You may remember this little shovel trick from a while back. If you want it to work, you MUST remove the core of the valve stem. Then you just basically stomp on the shovel like you do in the garden.
Step 4) Hop, skip, and jump your way to success and the bead will separated from the rim.
I then shoved some leather welding gloves in there so that I could feel around a bit. Now, at this point I expected to find a bunch of aluminum corrosion causing my slow air leak. However, in a bizarre plot twist, that was not the case. The rim, other than the slight dent, was in perfect shape. Spotlessly clean aluminum, and the tire itself looked great too. Odd, but sometimes strange things happen in this world.
Step 5) It is now time to reseal the tire to the rim.
Ideally, tire bead sealer should be used, because it works awesome and is intended for this exact situation. Unfortunately I didn’t have any because I was not that forward thinking, and it was very, very early on a Sunday morning. Improvisation became the name of the game. So I hopped into the other car, and cruised down to the local grocery store for some kind of interesting solution to my dilemma. As luck would have it, my solution arrived in the form of “Extra Super Hold” Aqua Net hair spray. Yes. I said hair spray.
I dried the tire and wheel, applied a nice mist of hair spray to the bead, and filled that tire back up with 32 psi of extra-super-holding lovin’. All day. All over hold. Just read the can.
It is now over a month later and the tire is still holding air like its job (which it really is). I have since bought a beautiful new bottle of real tire bead sealer to have ready for next time. As they say, “necessity is the mother of invention”. Extra super hold Aqua Net – It’s not just for spiked hair and BMX handle grips anymore.