Arguably one of the most important parts of the car to keep in good condition, tyres are vital to the safety of the car. It doesn’t help that tyres have a lot of faults which are harder to notice than other parts of the car. While there are ways to easily check some faults (e.g. the 20p method as shown in our previous blog post) some are more elusive.
This is especially true of slow punctures. Some people argue that its okay to just correct the pressure on a regular basis instead of having it fixed right away, and below we explain the best methods and how to recognise a slow puncture when it happens.
When driving your car, listen carefully, turn the radio off if you need to. Is there a noise that follows the pace of the tyre? Speeding up when you speed up or slowing down when you slow? That may mean a foreign object is stuck in the tread.
Does the steering wheel pull to the side at all? Or when you brake the car it pulls to the side? If you feel these or anything similar, check your tyres right away.
Vigilance is definitely key to identifying a slow puncture, before journeys, make sure to check around the car and look closely at the tyres. Are there any foreign objects stuck in it? Such as a nail or screw or something similar? This can cause a debate over whether to remove it or not, the object may be plugging it up, so removing it could cause the tyre to deflate. A good trick to see if air is escaping after removing a foreign object is to put water on the area, if bubbles form, it shows that air is escaping from the tyre, and you should get it fixed right away. The object may also have not fully penetrated the tyre and you should remove it to prevent it causing any more damage.
A wheel rim can also cause a slow puncture, due to steel rims rusting and ruining the seal of the tyre against the wheel. Hitting potholes or kerbs or any similar items can also wreck the rim of the wheel enough to break the seal and result in a slow puncture.
A faulty tyre valve can also cause a slow puncture, as it lets air out over time, best cause of action in this case is to just replace the valve.
Obviously the best method of checking your tyre pressure is by checking your cars Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), which uses the sensors fitted in the wheels to detect if there is any problem and then alerts the driver. Otherwise, you can buy tyre pressure gauges which let you check your wheel whenever needed.
When a puncture has been identified the next step is how to repair it or if it can be repaired at all. If it is just through a foreign object then it can be repaired, unless the sidewall has been damaged. If that is the case or the tyre has been driven on while partially deflated, chances are it cannot be repaired and must be replaced.
The easiest way to stay on top of the condition of your tyres is to check on a regular basis, and fixing any problem before it becomes a larger issue.