If you’ve ever walked out of work after a long day only to see a flat tire on your vehicle, you’ll know just how frustrating and inconvenient it is. There’s never a good time for a leaky or flat tire. If you don’t have a spare tire, what are you supposed to do in order to get your vehicle to Hoover Automotive for repairs? You can find the leak and repair it yourself in order to get it driveable.
Finding the Leak
There are a few different ways you can check to see if you have a leak and/or where it is. If the source of the leak isn’t immediately noticeable, then start by inflating the tire. When the tire is properly pressurized, it can be easier to find the leak. You should inflate your tire with air until it reaches the appropriate psi (pressure per square inch) for your vehicle. Then, take one or all of the following 3 steps before moving on to more time-consuming methods.
- Look for any nails, screws, or other sharp objects stuck in your tire. Also look for any holes, cuts, or bulging.
- Listen for a hissing sound. Even if you aren’t able to see the problem right away you might be able to hear it. A hissing sound is a clear sign that air is leaking from your tire (probably quickly), and can help you locate the leak.
- Feel around the tire for air. If you run your hands over the tire carefully you may feel the leak even if you can’t hear or see it.
If you followed the steps above and you were not able to easily find the leak, don’t worry there are still other ways to spot it. Spraying the tire with a little soapy water may help. How? Well start by covering the tire with the soap and water solution- whether by spraying it from a spray bottle or simply pouring the mixture over the tire. Watch for bubbles. As air escapes the tire it will form soap bubbles. If you notice the soapy water bubbling up and/or building up at any particular place on the tire, you have found your leak. If the leak is in the tire tread, that’s good! You should be able to patch it up. If the leak is in the wall of the tire, you’re out of luck and will need a new tire.
Repairing the Leak with a Tire Puncture Sealant
For this method of repairing your leaky tire, you’ll mainly be reading the directions on the can of sealant you’ve bought. Various manufacturers have slightly different steps, so read carefully! What we have listed here is just an overview or example of how to use a can of sealant.
This is finally the time to pull out any object that has punctured your tire, if you’ve found the culprit.
- Turn the wheel until the valve is at the top of the wheel.
- Unscrew your valve cap.
- Attach the product’s nozzle to the valve. You’ll essentially use the sealant in the same way that you’d use an air compressor.
- Release the contents by pressing the designated button.
- Drive your car. Slowly drive your car back and forth so that the sealant is evenly distributed inside the tire and prevents clumping.
- Replace your tire as soon as possible. Tire sealants are great for helping out in a pinch, but are not a long-time fix. Unfortunately, they are only good for about 100 miles, and we don’t recommend pushing that limit. You’ll need to have your tire (or tires) replaced at Hoover Automotive in Hoover, AL, before then to avoid possible problems.
Repairing the Leak with a Tire Plug Kit
This option is more intensive and will require taking your tire off, but is longer-lasting than the before-mentioned sealant. Tire plug kits should come with all the tools you’ll need to do it. Here’s what to do:
- Remove the flat tire from the vehicle. We’re not going to go into detail about how to do that in this particular post.
- Clean the hole with the rasp tool- it’ll be the one that looks like a round file with a handle. Take this tool and ram it into the hole to clean out and rough up the hole in your tire prior to plugging. Move it up and down a few times. This also roughens the area so the fix will hold.
- Take one plug- looks like a sticky tar “worm”- and thread it through the tool that looks like a giant needle. You’ll need to pinch the end of the worm to get it in there. Pull it through until it is centered in the plugging tool.
- Stick the end of the tool into the hole you’ve created in your tire. Once it’s in just a little bit, apply pressure so that the tool and the plug sink into the hole. Only about a half-inch should be sticking out.
- Pull the plugging tool straight out. The plug should stay in the hole. Trim the excess close to the tire. If you don’t have something with you to cut the plug, it’s ok to simply trim it later.
Remember, a leaky or ruptured tire is never safe to drive on, no matter the extent of the damage. These issues need to be handled before driving, whether you choose to put on the spare or plug it yourself. If you’re having tire pressure issues or need a new tire (or tires) after damage, bring your vehicle to Hoover Automotive located close to the Highway 31, Valleydale Road intersection in Hoover, AL. Our mechanics are ready to help you get safely back on the road.