What Causes A Tire To Leak Around The Rim?

Tire Leaking Air Around Rim

Many know how to handle a tire that’s losing air. If you’ve run over a nail or other object, the air usually comes from the tire rubber. But, what do you do when the tire is leaking air around the rim? This is a completely different problem.

In this guide, we discuss what causes air to leak around the tire rim. We also show you some ways to fix it and answer a few of your top questions. 

What Causes A Tire To Leak Air Around The Rim?

Damage is the most likely cause of the leaking air. The tire bead might have been damaged or the rim itself has been impacted by hitting a curb and other objects. Aside from that, the rim may be corroded or the valve stem could be leaking, causing air loss.

Let’s look at all of these possibilities in-depth.

1. Damaged Tire Bead

tire bead

The tire bead is the section of the tire that’s reinforced. It comes in contact with the rim, so when damage occurs, a leak occurs around the rim.

Additionally, dry rot can cause the tire bead to fail if the tire is old. It will reduce elasticity and keep the tire from sealing against the rim. 

2. Damaged Rim

rim damage

Rim damage occurs for numerous reasons, but most often because of impact. You may run into a curb or hit potholes on a rough road. Both of these situations lead to damage that can keep the tire from sealing against the rim.

Rim damage can also occur from using cheap wheels. If the casting is poor, they aren’t going to hold up to the abuse of the road. 

3. Corroded Or Rusty Rim

corroded tire

Magnesium or aluminum alloy wheels are more susceptible to corrosion than any other type. When rust and corrosion set in, the area where the rim meets the bead is compromised.

This problem can lead to a leak. The best way to deal with corrosion is to prevent it in the first place. Watch how much moisture sits on the rims. 

4. Valve Stem Damage

tire valve stem

The valve stem is the protrusion that comes out of your tire, where you fill it with air. You unscrew the cap every time you inflate the tires. However, these parts endure a lot of abuse.

For this reason, they can become damaged or clogged. If you notice air leaking around the rim, it may actually be coming from the valve stem. A closer inspection will be necessary. 

How To Fix A Tire Leaking Air Around The Rim

You don’t have to be a professional mechanic to fix a leaking tire as we would. We can offer you guidance to get the job done with a minimal amount of tools. Here’s how we would handle the situation.

1. Remove The Wheel

remove tire

Before you can do anything else, you must first identify where the leak is coming from. To do this, the removal of the wheel and tire is necessary. Take the wheel off and place it on a flat surface with the valve stem facing up.

Add a little bit of soapy water to the tire. Spray it on the rim’s outer edge to find the leak. You’ll know where the leak is because bubbles will spout out of the soap. Mark this area so you know what you are working with. 

2. Release The Air From the Valve 

With the area marked, you are ready to release the air. Open the valve cap and press inward on the valve to empty the air.

Wait until all of the air has been removed .If you need to replace the valve stem, you will proceed with that repair after step #3. 

3. Separate The Tire and Rim

remove tire from rim

Tires and rims are attached through a seal. The tire remains on the rim because of this heavy bond. To fix the tire, you have to break the bead seal. 

This job requires a lot of muscle. You can use a pry bar to break the bead. You may also need the help of a friend to stand on the tire while you work around it. Otherwise, a bead breaker can be purchased at your local auto parts store. 

4. Inspect Tire Bead For Damages

Now is a great time to inspect the tire bead. You want to look it over for damage to know what you are working with.

If there’s just a small leak from the bead, it might be able to be reseated. However, you need to replace the tire if there are any tears or damage. In the future, you can prevent bead damage by ensuring the tire is properly inflated. 

5. Clean The Rim From Corrosion Or Rust

With the rim free of the tire, it’s time to clean it up. If there’s mild corrosion, you don’t want it to become widespread. Clean up the tire’s edge with a clean cloth and a special rim cleaner. Make sure you get off all of the dirt and debris to prevent future problems.

If there are stubborn areas of rust, you may want to clean them with a metal brush. However, significant spots of corrosion and rust could be unrepairable. Therefore, you may need to get new rims to ensure a solid seal between the tire and the wheel. 

6. Inflate Tire And Check For Leaks

Once the repairs have been made, it’s time to put the tire back on the rim and install it on the car. Before you do that, you want to double-check your repairs. 

Inflate the tire to the recommended PSI. How much air does a car tire need? It depends on what you drive. The right amount can be found in your owner’s manual or on the driver’s side door jamb. Most car tires should be inflated between 32 and 35 PSI. 

Finally, do the soap test one more time, paying close attention to the area that was repaired. If you don’t see any more bubbles, you are ready to put the wheel back in place. 

How Do You Check If the Tire Is Leaking Air Around The Rim?

check tire leak

To find a tire leak, you have several options. 

  • Soap and water: Spray the mixture on the tire and look for bubbles to form where there’s a leak.
  • Water: If you don’t have soap, you can spray on straight water. This may be harder to spot, but not impossible.
  • Dunk in water: Take the whole tire and dunk it into a tub of water. Bubbles are going to form at the leak. If you don’t have a way to dunk it all at once, you can do it in sections at a time. 

Most people choose the soap and water method because it’s the easiest and most accurate. 

How much does it cost to fix a tire leak?

If you simply need to reseat the bead, you may not spend any money. Additionally, installing a new valve stem or cleaning off corrosion is going to be cheap fixes. The only expensive fix would be if you needed a new tire or rim, which could cost $50 or more. 

Is it better to drive fast or slow on a leaking tire?

Driving at any speed on a leaking tire is dangerous. You can go slowly if you need to drive a short distance to the tire shop and the leak is minimal. High speeds are going to create more danger and should be avoided at all costs. 

Can you drive with a leaking tire bead?

It’s never advisable to drive with a leaking tire. The tire could deflate faster than you expect, leaving you riding on the rim. If you do have to drive, take your time and pay close attention to any changes in the handling. If you aren’t feeling comfortable, pull over and call a tow truck or change the tire instead. 

How do you reseal a tire bead?

You want to first verify the leak is coming from the bead. Then, you need to deflate the tire and apply a sealant to it if the damage isn’t severe. Re-inflate the tire to set the bead. Double-check it for leaks before you place it back on the vehicle. 

Will tire slime fix a leak around the rim?

Tire slime can be used in an emergency and will fix a puncture that measures up to ¼”. However, as mechanics, we do not recommend using these products because they can ruin the tire, forcing you to need a replacement. It will also create a mess when fixing the issue with a permanent repair.

There’s no reason to panic when you realize that air is leaking from around the tire rim. Even if you haven’t worked with a lot of tires, as we have, you can still figure out the problem and fix it quickly. We’ve given you many tips and tricks to get you back on the road.

However, if you feel these procedures are too complicated for you at any time, make sure you visit a local tire shop. There’s too much riding on your tires to take any chances.

Categories: Tires

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