How To Find a Tire Leak

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Leaking tires... Who would have thought that a tire can one day be fine, and another day be flatter than your morning pancakes? If your tire has an obvious gigantic tear, then you most likely have already found the problem. Tire leaks can be tricky, and slightly annoying though. They are not always visible to the human eye, and you cannot always pinpoint them just by running your hand around the tire. For those of you trying to figure out whether it's time for new tires, and whether or not you can make it to the tire store without blowing that leaky tire on the drive there, I am hoping to help you out.

Ok, let's start out with the basics:

There are a few things you can do while your tire is still on the car.

  1. Look. Is your tire slightly flat on the pavement? It should be round all the way around. When a tire goes flat, even just a little bit, it will start to flatten out on the part of the tire that is on the ground. Also take a look to see if there is anything sticking out of your tire.
  2. Listen. Get down on your hands and knees and put your ear right up to the tire. Do you hear any whistling sounds? Or anything that could sound like escaping air? Hint* When listening for a tire leak, it is best to make sure the car is not running so you can hear.
  3. Feel. While you're down there on the ground listening for escaping air, take both your hands and touch every part of the tire. Squeeze it, rub it, hug it, do what you have to. You want to make sure to reach as far around the back of the tire as you can. Some tires will develop a worn-down spot from the amount of times it rubbed on another part of the car, and that can cause a tear in the rubber. Another thing that you want to feel for is anything protruding from your tire. Things like screws, nails and other large sharp objects have their way of getting lodged in your tires, even if you don't normally drive around those things.

Your job, at this point, is to make sure that there are no obvious reasons for your tire to be leaking air. If you do not see any reasons, hear any air leaks, or feel any holes or tears in the tire, then it is time to get to know your tire a little better.

Let's talk about a technique that is most commonly used to find small air leaks.

You will need three things for this adventure:

  1. A large bucket that is bigger and deeper than your tire.
  2. Man checking his tiresEnough water to fill that bucket.
  3. A leaky tire.

The steps to finding a leak in your tire are relatively easy. Let's go through them...

  1. Get out your bucket and fill it all the way up with water.
  2. Once your bucket is full, put your leaky tire in it and hold it down.
  3. Let the water settle and look around for bubbles.
  4. If you don't see any, pull the tire out, turn it around, and stick it back in.

At this point in time, if your tire has a leak, you will see it. Whether it is a big leak or a small leak, a leak in the rubber or a leak in the weld, air pushes out of the tire from the pressure of the water, and you will see bubbles. If you have found that you have a leaky tire, maybe it's time for a new one. I know Fix-O-Flat is so easy to buy and use, but it's worth it to just get new tires all around.

Tires should really be replaced every couple of years. Even if you don't do a regular amount of driving, tires, just like everything else on your vehicle, are not made of everlasting material. They get old and worn down from carrying all of the weight of your vehicle. The more you drive, the more often you are going to have to replace your tires, and trust me, you do not want to be stranded with a flat in the middle of nowhere just because you haven't thought about replacing your tires.

I hope you found or eliminated your possible leak. If you didn't, it is still an option to take your tire to professionals and have them do a leak test.

For further reading, Amanda invites you to check out her article, "Car Tune-Ups You Can Do Yourself."

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sometimes ones can hear a little leak . The water trick works wonders though.

By James Goetz

Nice article. But not sure about the bucket bigger than your tire; I've watched my dad just hose the tires looking for water sputterings.

By Anonymous