If your tire is slowly leaking and tends to drop in 5-10 psi, there are a few different ways to check for leaks. Some of these repairs can also be completed at home. This post covers how to find and repair a slow leak in a tire with some simple methods.
How to Fix a Slow Leak in a Tire
1. Raise and Secure the Vehicle or Remove the Tire
Raise and secure the vehicle with a jack and jack stands. Spin the tire or remove it for a closer look.
General Steps for Removing a Tire
- Loosen the Lug Nuts
With the tire on the ground, loosen the lug nuts
- Raise and Secure the Vehicle
- Remove the Lug Nuts
With the vehicle raised, remove the lug nuts
- Remove the Tire
Remove the tire from the wheel hub
If using an air impact wrench, loosen and remove the lug nuts after raising and securing the vehicle.
2. Check for Scuffing and Slicing
Check the outside, inside, and the tread for scuffing or slicing that may have caused the leak.
3. Check for Nails or Metal Objects
Check the tire tread for objects that may have punctured it like nails or metal objects.
If the tire is punctured by an object, commonly nails, it will need to be plugged from the outside or patched from the inside. This how-to video below shows how to plug a slowly leaking tire yourself.
4. Measure the Tire Pressure
Remove the valve cap and check the tire pressure with a tire pressure gauge. If the tire is not flat, the tire should be near the recommended pounds per square inch (psi), which can be found on the door jamb sticker.
If in cold weather all the tires measure at 5-10 psi lower than the recommend pressure range, they may have lost air from the outside temperature and just need to be refilled.
5. Place the Tire Under Water or Spray It with Soapy Water
Place the Tire Under Water
For one method involving water, place the tire under water in a dunk tank and check for bubbles.
Spray the Tire with Soapy Water
For an easier method involving water, spray soapy water around the valve stem and the front and backside of the rim of the tire and let it soak. Check for sudsy bubbles growing in size over time, which indicates a leak.
Spray soapy water on the threads and check for sudsy bubbles growing in size.
If the tire is leaking near the rim or seal, the rim needs to be removed and cleaned of any corrosion. As the rim corrodes, the gap between it and the tire grows, making a leak. Clean the corrosion from the rim with a wire brush or grinder. Clean the corrosion from the tire with a wire brush.
Apply bead sealer along the rim/mounting surface where the tire mounts to the rim to seal the tire, or clean the tire with soapy water instead if bead sealer is not available. Recheck the tire for slow leaks again with soapy water once the repair is complete.
- How to Remove a Stripped Lug Nut from a Tire
- Why You Should Rotate Your Tires
- Should I Get Snow Tires?
- Tire Size Guide
- How to Put Air in a Tire