How to check your tyres for air leaks
Checking your tyre pressure regularly is integral to the safe operation of your car.
Tyres will naturally lose pressure over time, which is why they should be checked every 2 weeks and topped up if necessary.
Another cause for low tyre pressure is punctures. Nails and other foreign objects on the road may pierce their way into your tyres as you are driving along, and cause the tyre to leak air at a faster rate than normal.
It is a relatively simple job to check your tyres if you notice the pressure is lower than normal.
The first step is a visual inspection. Is one of the tyres looking more deflated than the others?
A quick walk around the car will give you a basic idea of whether or not a tyre is low on pressure.
If you do find a tyre lower than the others, the next step is to check the tread and sidewall to see if there are any foreign objects lodged there.
If you cannot see any visible damage, another simple check you can perform is with a spray bottle filled with soapy water.
Simply spray around all parts of the tyre, including the air valve and around where the tyre meets the face of the wheel.
Both these areas can cause a small leak that is virtually undetectable. If the area you spray shows signs of bubbling, this indicates that air is leaking out.
Small cracks in the tyre can also allow air to escape and lower the tyre pressure without any obvious symptoms.
This is more common with older tyres, where the rubber has begun to crack and perish over time. If this is the case, it may be safer to replace these tyres with new ones, to eliminate failure while driving.
If you have access to a large tub that you can fill with water, you can check where a leak is coming from.
Jack the vehicle up on a level, flat area and secure the vehicle with a jack stand.
Never work under a vehicle that is only supported by a jack, as serious injury could occur if the jack fails.
Once the vehicle is secure, remove the wheel and submerge into the tub of water.
If the tyre is leaking, you will see a stream of bubbles coming from the location of the leak.
Simply remove the wheel from the tub, and circle the suspected area with a marker.
Fit the spare wheel to your car and take the leaking tyre to your local workshop or tyre fitter to have the puncture repaired.
There are many punctures which cannot be repaired, such as sidewall damage, or debris close to the edge of the tyre.
These areas are dangerous to try and repair and in some states, it is actually illegal to repair this damage, as it can cause tyre failure at higher speeds.
Replacement of these tyres may be more expensive than a puncture repair, but it will be far safer for you and your family in the long run!
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Image credit: Nail in tyre Asim Bharwani
Finding a passion for cars from a young age, Joel carried out work experience as a mechanic whilst at school before starting an apprenticeship after finishing year 12.
After almost 10 years on the tools and in customer service, he moved into the IT realm as a Data Analyst and In-House mechanic at AutoGuru.