Tire Maintenance

How to Seal a Tire on a Rim


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Proper tire performance depends on many factors, but one of the most potentially annoying problems a driver can have is a poor seal on a tire rim. When improperly sealed, a tire can develop a slow leak that can take months to track down. This problem can also sometimes crop up after an accident striking a curb with your tire and bending the rim, breaking the seal in the process. Slow leaks lead to low tire pressure, which in turn affects your gas mileage and the safety of your vehicle. Should you find yourself with a broken seal, here is what you can do to fix it.

Step 1: Locate the Leak

You can do this by spraying a soapy mixture of water on any area you believe is leaking, focusing on the area between the rim and the tire. This always works best if the tire has been removed from the vehicle (prior to spraying it) and placed on the ground first. Should bubbles appear in the soap then you will know for sure that you have a leak, and where it is located. If you have no bubbles around the rim of your tire but are still experiencing a slow leak, it is possible you have a failure elsewhere in the tire.

Step 2: Remove the Tire from the Rim

Take the tire off of the rim. Once it's off, clean the tire bead, making sure that no rust, dirt or other debris lingers. Once the tire has been fully cleaned, set it aside.

Step 3: Clean the Rim

Clean the rim by brushing it down with a wire brush. Pay particular attention to any rusted or dirty areas where the tire contacted the rim. Once the rim is cleaned you should check for cracks in the wheel. Should you discover a crack, you will need to replace the cracked wheel.

Step 4: Reapply the Tire to the Rim

Place a thin coat of bead sealer (found in any auto parts supply store) around the rim on the contact area. Use the brush provided with the bead sealer compound and make sure you cover the entire surface where the tire will contact the rim. Next you can apply a thin application of bead sealer compound around the rim of the tire. Remount the tire on the rim when you're finished.

Step 5: Test the Tire

Inflate the tire to the desired pressure. Place it on the ground and spray a liberal amount of the soapy water mixture on the tire and rim to ensure the leak has been fixed. Should you still have a leak, it's possible the rim is bent and will need to be repaired at an auto service station.

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