Tire Maintenance

Diagnosing your Flat Tire


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Getting a flat tire is no fun, regardless of where you are when it happens. Coming out in the morning to find that one tire is flat, or while driving along and having a slow puncture means more expense with fixing it or replacing it. Diagnosing why your tire went flat is not always easy, unless there is a completely obvious explanation, like a nail or screw poking out.

Bad Seal

When a tire is being replaced, the tire shop worker will the coat the edge of the inside of the tires with a sealant that sticks to the wheel. This coating will adhere to the wheel rim and prevent any air from escaping. Occasionally this sealant may under-perform and you'll find that your tire goes flat very quickly. Normally you will not find visible reasons for this unless you totally eliminate other possible causes.

Finding the Hole

Some holes or splits will be very hard to locate. One tried and tested method is the same one used on bicycles. You will have to jack up the car to get the flat tire off the ground. Get a large bowl of water and run the tire slowly through it. If at any point you see tiny air bubbles appearing, either in the water or on the wet tire, you can be certain you've located the leak. Mark the area with white paint or tailor's chalk so that you can find it again when you need to have it repaired.

Holes

Tires take the entire weight of the car on them and as you drive, and they will no doubt pick up sharp objects. These objects can be glass, metal fragments or bits of steel and they will slowly work their way into the tire as it moves. Under certain levels of constant pressure the sharp object will move further into the tire, allowing small amounts of air to escape. This will barely show until you find that three or four days later, your tire looks softer than it should. You can diagnose this by visually checking the tread of your tire all the way around and look for anything which is slightly protruding from the tread. Using a magnifying glass will help to locate tiny fragments. Once you remove the fragment you will need to conduct a flat tire repair.

Sealant

Flat tire sealant is a clever invention that allows you to seal a hole in your tire quickly and easily. There are a few different methods available but one of the most popular is a rubber seal. This seal is placed inside the tire and a rubber cone protrudes from the hole. A glue is applied to the cone and when it dries, the excess is snipped off to create a newly repaired flat rubber surface. You can then replace the tire and pump it up.

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