Recently, I struggled to understand why my tires keep losing air despite filling them with air and them not having any visible signs of a puncture.
To further worsen the problem, no one at the tire shop could explain the cause of the slow leak. The experience was both frustrating and infuriating. These were new tires bought a few months ago and I needed to find answers quickly.
Tires can lose air due to misaligned wheel mounting, degraded valve stem caps, missing valve stem caps, or rim issues. Holes in the sidewall, bead issues, gas leak, and cold weather can also cause a drop in tire PSI.
Tires play a critical role from navigating through bumpy areas, maneuvering potholes, and protecting your car from damaging debris. They are your car’s connection to the road. Understanding how your tires are fitted and work can help you determine why they keep losing air. Our detailed guide covers some of the unknown reasons why your tires might be losing air and ways to fix these issues.
Having done our research and spoken to several tire shop and garage experts, we believe that knowing the reasons your tires go flat can help you better avoid them.
6 Reasons Why Your Tires May Lose Air
Some of the reasons tires can go flat include:
1. Damaged Valves
Your tire valve is that part of the tire that keeps the air in, while allowing you to refill the tire with an air pump. The valve is airtight when closed, which means no air comes out. That helps to maintain the tire pressure.
Damaged or worn out valves can cause slow tire leaks. The valves can allow air to escape, thus decreasing the tire pressure whether your car is in storage or you’re on the move.
You can get damaged valves from driving at a high speed. Cars with faulty valve stems can also lead to quick air loss.
Faulty valve stems can also lead to air loss. Some people make the mistake of overtightening the tube within the valve that carries air in the tire also known as the valve stem core.
Valve stems also tend to deteriorate over time as they are made from rubber or plastic. They can get damaged when you hit something big like a rock. Valve stems can also get damaged by the automatic car brush. Over time, these parts can degrade and may no longer provide a sealed environment.
2. Low Temperature
Lower temperatures lead to lower air density, which can affect tire pressure. The air outside is less dense with cold temperature and this might make your tires lose pressure quicker than normal. Tires lose 1 PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit the temperature drops.
You need to check the tread on your car tires as worn tires might lose air at a faster rate. A low tread could explain the reason behind the pressure lost.
Add more air to your tires to the correct pressure amount. However, note that if your tires are worn out, you should consider replacing them to avoid this recurrent problem.
3. Damaged or Bent Wheel
Car wheels are made from magnesium alloy or aluminum. Over time, the wheel may be exposed to external elements leading to corrosion and rust.
If your tire is mounted on the edge of the corroded rim, that might cause the wheel to lose its round shape, leading to air loss. A wheel that’s no longer round means it won’t hold your tire well, thus creating spaces that can lead to an air leak.
Additionally, if you got into an accident and had a bent wheel, that could also contribute to an air leak. It’s best to replace your wheels when this occurs.
Tire bead damage tends to happen when there’s a poor sealing surface between the tire and metal wheel. That can be caused by wheel corrosion or stuck debris that occupies the wheel-to-tire sealing gap.
You’ll notice that the tire begins to form dimples or tear once there’s bead damage.
Replacing your tires and wheels may be the only solution to solve this problem.
A puncture can also lead to a slow air leak.
Most punctures happen when you drive over a hard or sharp object. Things like broken glass, sharp rocks, nails, and screws can all lead to a tire puncture.
To determine if your tires are punctured, you can spray them with soapy water. If there’s a puncture, bubbles will form around the punctured part. Punctured tires need urgent repair to prevent a flat tire. Your tire technician can determine if the puncture is repairable or needs replacing.
5. Tire Damage
Things like rough roads and potholes don’t only damage your suspension and alignment, they can also destroy the tires.
Potholes will damage the tire rim and cause a slow leak
6. Regular Wear and Tear
Normal wear and tear can also cause air loss in your tire. With driving, the tread on the tires wears down, which makes the tires prone to hazards like punctures.
Although you can’t stop the natural wearing down, you can reduce it by maintaining the recommended tire pressure, going for wheel alignment, rotating the tires, and avoiding fast starts and stops.
Preventing Tires From Losing Air
Some of the ways to avoid tires from losing air include:
Monitoring Your Tire Pressure
It’s essential to check your tire pressure once a week. That will help you know whether you need to inflate your tires. Checking the tire pressure regularly can help you notice any pressure changes that need to be addressed.
Don’t forget to check the tire pressure even when you get a new set of tires.
Check the Tire Valve Stem
Take time to check your tire valve stem when filling up your tank. A corroded or worn-out tire valve stem could be hazardous and needs to be fixed.
You can also take your car to a tire shop or the garage to have the valve stem checked. They’ll check if it’s sealed and secure.
How Can You Know if You Have an Air Leak in Your Tires?
While some slow air leaks can be difficult to diagnose, it’s still possible to determine the cause of most leaks.
Here are some ways you can easily do that.
Through Feel or Sound
It’s possible to tell the location of the air leak by feeling your tire or listening in for a hissing sound. Touch the tire on all sides to determine if there’s an air loss in a certain section. The place with the leak will be hotter to touch if your entire tire is hot. A loud hissing sound in one direction may also tell you the specific place with the leak.
Immersing the Wheel into Water
Remove your wheel and put it in water. The damaged part will form bubbles. Remember to turn the tire over if you fail to notice any bubbling.
Another common method of detecting leaks is to spray the rim edge and tire with a soap and water solution. Start with the valve stem before proceeding to the edges of the rim
Don’t forget to do the same on the tire tread and sidewalls. Bubbles will form where there’s a leak.
Will Over Inflating Your Tires Reduce the Time Between Fills?
There’s a common misconception that over-inflating tires with a slow leak can increase the time you’ll be required to fill them up.
Unfortunately, over inflated tires can lead to a noisy and rough ride as the tread and sidewalls are stiff. Furthermore, the tire wears out quickly and your tire performance is affected.
These tires also lose traction and can be unstable, which exposed you to blow outs if you hit a pothole.
About THE AUTHOR
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding