You are constantly losing air pressure on your tire, and you cannot see any signs of damage or puncture on the tread area or the sidewall. Then, the problem could be around your rim. Rim leaks can be a real hassle as you can get a flat tire at any given time.
Your tires could leak around the rim for reasons, including a damaged valve, wheel, tire, and bead. Additionally, dirt and debris that get in between the tire and the rim or water settling where the bead and the rim meet can cause the problem.
Fixing leaks on the rim can be a challenging job, but with enough knowledge about it, it is something you can do on your own. This article aims to elaborate on the causes of rim leaks and discuss possible solutions.
Jump right in and start learning.
Cause of Rim Leaks
Any of the things below could cause leaks around the rim. See how these happen and learn you can avoid them.
Over time, a tire valve could malfunction. The typical reason is corrosion, especially if you remove or do not install the valve cap. Road salts and other road minerals could get into the tire valve and cause wear and tear.
When the valve stem is not functioning correctly, air could escape. The only problem is, it is tough to diagnose with your plain eyes. It is almost a mystery. However, there is a simple technique that you can use to confirm if your valve is leaking. It is the use of soapy water.
Increase your tire pressure and pour the soapy water on your tire valve and observe. If the air is leaking out, you will see some bubbles on the valve.
To prolong the life of your valve stem, ensure that the valve cap is always on. During emergencies, it also helps you keep an extra valve stem that you can use if you need it.
Your wheels must be perfectly round so that it fits on the rim perfectly and hold the air as you pump it in. However, as time pass by, your wheels could lose their roundness.
The common reason why your wheels go out of shape is hitting a curb or a pothole. Hitting a hard object could potentially damage the tire’s bead that results in an air leak.
The tire may not correctly fit on the rim if you have a damaged bead. Bead corrosion can also potentially cause an air leak. Additionally, dirt and debris that get in between the rim and the tire can create a small opening where the air can come out.
Damage to the tire’s bead can also happen during tire mounting. If you replace your tires on your own, make sure you use the correct tools to avoid possible damage. If bead installation is not accurate, leaks could occur.
Water could also potentially enter your wheels and settle where your tire and rim meet, and start causing corrosion. When corrosion happens, a slow leak could occur as it can likely create a small opening for the air to pass through.
How to Fix Rim Leaks
Fixing a ream leak can be a little challenging, but you sure can do it if you intend to do it yourself. Take a look at the generic steps below and assess if you can perform them.
Step 1: Remove the tire. Removing the tire allows you to check it on both sides. Place the tire on a flat surface and ensure that the valve does not press on the ground.
Step 2: Find the leak location. Pour a soapy water solution on the tire and the rim and notice where it bubbles. Then, mark the area where you see the leak.
Step 3: Release the air. Empty the tire by pressing the valve inlet or removing the valve stem to release the air completely.
Step 4: Loosen or release the tire and rim contact. The seal could be challenging to break in some cases because of rust and corrosion around the tire bead. You may need to hammer to break it.
Step 5: Clean up the area where the leak occurs. Thoroughly clean the tire and the rim from dirt to ensure that nothing will cause issues when applying the bead sealer.
Step 6: Apply Bead Sealer. There are a variety of bead sealers you can buy in the market that you can apply on the rim surface to prevent further leakage. This chemical will help the tire become airtight, preventing the air from popping out.
If you are not confident that you can do the job or lack the tools, I suggest you let a mechanic do it.
Average Cost to Fix Rim Leaks
If you decide to have a mechanic do the job of fixing a rim leak for you, be prepared to pay between $50 or more. The amount you pay can vary depending on if there is damage that requires fix like damage on the rim or the tire bead.
If there is no significant damage and the only issue is corrosion, the job can be much easier to accomplish, and the cost you pay may not be that much.
However, before letting the mechanic touch your wheel, get a quote first. See first if the quote is reasonable; if not, find another shop to save money.
How to Prevent Rim Leaks
Let’s face it. We sometimes ignore maintenance. I am guilty of the crime. I still remember how corrosion started to occur around the rim of my car when I missed cleaning it after going light off-road adventure.
Having shared my experience, I have learned that regular maintenance is a must to prevent issues like rim leaks. Like everything else, if you fail to do maintenance, it will create unwanted problems.
I suggest that you wash your vehicle regularly. We commonly miss the tires when we clean our car. Sometimes we focus so much on the body and the inside. If we even clean the tires, we sometimes focus on the side that we can see with our naked eyes and completely ignore the inner side of the tire.
We need to understand that dirt and debris that managed to get into the tire can cause a problem if not cleaned.
Back to my point, the ideal thing is to check your tire regularly. Check if it needs some cleaning. Check if it does not have any physical damage like irregular tread wear. Check if it does not sit next to a chemical that could cause damage to the wheel.
Sealants for Rim Leaks
Bead sealants are excellent solutions for rim leaks. You can do the process of identifying the leak area and cleaning it. When the leak area is clean, you can apply sealants to prevent future leaks.
You can choose from many sealants, including the Steelman Tire Bead Sealer, Xtra Seal, and Tru-Flate that you can shop on Amazon. These are sealants which purpose is to seal the bead area of the rim. These sealants work in fixing leaks around the rim based on the testimonies I got from other car owners who have tried them.
It is important to note that the sealant that we are talking about here is the bead sealant. Bead sealant is not the same as the repair sealant. Repair sealant will likely not fix air leakage on the rim; if it does, it sure is temporary.
To see the difference between bead sealer and repair sealer, click here.
Fix-a-flat for Rim Leaks
Fix-a-flat is a popular temporary solution for slow leaks. However, will it work for the leaks around the rim? Some people say that “it may work” as an interim solution until you get to the nearest repair shop.
My thought is, it may not work as you intended. Fix-a-flat pumped into the tire may not seal or heal the bead problem where the air is escaping. This video shows that fix-a-flat failed to fix a leak around the rim.
The best way to fix the rim leak is to use a dedicated bead sealer.
Some people also report that tire slimes can fix leaks around the rim. Well, maybe, but I would insist that it is a temporary fix. However, there is no harm in trying. You can test it out and see if it works for you. If it does the magic, problem solved.
A tire leak around the rim could be a daunting situation. The common cause of the problem includes a damaged wheel and tire. Hitting a curb or a pothole can damage your tire, causing some leaks around the rim. Rust build-up or corrosion around the rim or the bead area can also create small air holes.
To fix tire leaks around the rim, you can use a bead sealer brushed around the bead area after thoroughly cleaning it. You have the option to perform the procedure yourself if you trust that you can do it and you have the tools to do it.