What Can Cause a Slow Tire Leak?

December 14th, 2023 by

Vehicle upkeep goes beyond getting regular oil changes and brake inspections; taking care of your tires is just as important. Your car’s tires help you get to your destination safely. Without maintaining proper tire air pressure, you risk getting a flat tire. A sudden tire blowout is easily noticeable, but an equally dangerous slow tire leak can go unseen, leaving you stranded on the side of the road. Tire maintenance prevents damages and enhances overall vehicle safety and performance. Read on for our overview of what causes slow tire leaks so you know what to look for on future trips.

The Sneaky Nature of Slow Tire Leaks

Naturally, tires lose about one pound per square inch (psi) every month, and this leakage rarely leads to compromised vehicle safety. However, a significant reduction in tire pressure over a short period indicates a slow tire leak. Leakage from a slow tire puncture can lead to an underinflated or flat tire. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to detect where a tire leak is coming from because different parts of the tire may be losing air.

Common Causes of Slow Tire Leaks

Have you noticed a sudden dip in your tire’s air pressure? You might be able to diagnose the origin of your slow tire leak based on some common causes.

Punctures and Small Objects

A tire puncture is a clear, visible indicator of a slow leak. Small objects, such as nails, screws, or shards of glass, can embed themselves in your vehicle’s tires, but they don’t always blow them out. It’s common for these small objects to stay in the tire and gradually reduce the tire pressure. Sometimes, the object will fall out and leave a small hole behind. Regardless of the culprit of the puncture, taking your vehicle to a certified Performance Honda tire center for an accurate diagnosis is best.

Damaged Valve Stem

Your tires have a valve stem that helps regulate their air pressure, allowing you to release air or inflate the tires through it. Valve stem issues may result from damage caused by environmental or road conditions involving moisture, road salt, or chemicals. The stem can also crack and become brittle with age. A small cap covers the valve stem core to prevent debris from entering. Without the cap or when damaged or corroded, the valve stem can lead to a slow tire leak. It’s best to have a tire service technician replace the valve stems with every tire replacement.

Compromised Tire Bead

Another common cause of a slow tire leak is a compromised tire bead. The tire bead is the edge of the tire where the rubber meets the wheel, and to achieve proper inflation, it should fit snugly against the wheel. If there’s any damage to the mounting surface, the tire will slowly pull away from the wheel, causing tire leakage. Exposure to environmental elements, such as road salt, can corrode the wheel, causing tire bead leaks.

Wheel Alloy Damage

Damage to the wheel alloy can affect the tight seal needed to ensure adequate tire pressure. The wheel alloy is the material that composes the rims your tires sit on. If you hit a pothole or a parking bumper, the impact may result in a bump or deformation in the wheel alloy. Any wheel alloy damage, regardless of what caused it, can cause a slow tire leak.

Age and Wear

Tires have a limited life span, usually between 25,000 to 50,000 miles. However, the exact number depends on the tire manufacturer, tire type, and your driving habits. Tires wear naturally over time, and exposure to the elements and local road conditions can also affect your tires’ integrity. Old, worn-down tires can slowly leak air through tiny cracks along the surface. They also increase the chance of accidents from reduced traction on the road.

Detecting and Addressing Slow Tire Leaks

Proper tire maintenance includes regularly checking your tire pressure and inspecting your tires for damage. If you suspect your tire is slowly leaking due to one of the common causes, here are some helpful tips to check for signs of slow tire leaks:

  •  Manual tire pressure readings: You can check the tire pressure yourself by purchasing a tire pressure gauge and referencing the sticker on your driver’s-side door jamb for your vehicle’s recommended psi. If one of the tires continues to read as underinflated, it may have a slow leak.
  • Tire pressure monitoring sensor: Your vehicle may have a tire pressure monitoring sensor that alerts you when your tire pressure is low. Fill your tires with the recommended psi, and if the sensor comes back on after a few days, you likely have a slow leak.
  • The spray method: Mix soap and water in a spray bottle and spray it all over the suspect tire. If you notice tiny bubbles on any part of the tire’s surface, it indicates the source of an air leak, meaning that your tire will need repair or replacement.

Although these methods are straightforward, they might not be the most accurate. Getting a professional inspection from a tire expert is ideal. Certified tire professionals know what to look for and have the right tools and parts to fix your tires. If necessary, they can help you find the perfect tire replacement that matches the make and model of your car.

Schedule a Regular Tire Check-Up at Performance Honda in Fairfield, Ohio

Stay safe on the road by checking your tires often. Preventive checks can help you monitor your tire’s pressure and keep an eye out for damage, wear, or punctures. Without regular inspections, your tires might develop a small leak. If this goes unnoticed, it can jeopardize your and your passenger’s safety and reduce the longevity of your tires, requiring you to replace them more often than expected. If you suspect tire issues, contact our service department at Performance Honda in Fairfield, Ohio, to schedule an appointment. Our professional service technicians will resolve the problem in no time.


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