How to Find Tire LeaksIf you find yourself filling up a tire weekly, odds are you’ve discovered a tire leak. Locating it quickly will stop your gradual reduction of tire pressure and possibly prevent you from being stranded with a flat tire. If you find one of your tires slowly leaking air, you can follow these steps to find the leak and save yourself from a bigger problem down the line:

Step 1:  Check the Air Pressure

It’s easy for a tire leak to go unnoticed. Checking your air pressure regularly will ensure you notice any drastic variations in pressure. Keep in mind that tires will lose pressure as the outside temperature drops in the fall and winter – but if you have one tire that seems to have less pressure on a regular basis, it’s likely that you have a leak.

If you find a tire with a slow leak, we recommend replacing it with the spare until your tire can be repaired or replaced.

Step 2:  Inspect Your Tire

Carefully examine the entire tread, sidewalls and bead of the tire (the bead is the area of tire that sits on the wheel). Inspect the tire for any cuts, cracks or splits – or objects embedded in the tread that have punctured the tire. Take a white china marker (an oil-based pencil that writes well on rubber) and circle any possible “trouble” spots.

Step 3:  Re-inflate Your Tire

If you have an air compressor at home, use it to re-inflate the tire to full recommended pressure. If you don’t have access to an air compressor, go to a service station and use the air pump there. Listen for a high-pitched hiss signaling air leaving the tire at any of the trouble spots you marked. You can also feel the air leaving the tire if the leak is large enough. If you marked multiple spots, narrow down which spot is leaking and mark it with an arrow.

Step 4:  Use Bubbles to Find The Leak

Take any kind of spray cleaner or window cleaner and spray around the tire tread, covering 1/6 of the circumference at a time. Wherever bubbles pop up, there’s an air leak. Circle every bubble location with your china marker. Another option is to fill a large basin with water and submerge the tire. Where you see bubbles, you’ll find an air leak.

Step 5:  Plug Your Tire & Take it in for Service

If your leak is a tiny hole, smaller than a quarter inch across, you can temporarily repair it with a tire plug. Create a smooth, uniform hole with a tire reamer and insert the tire plug. Draw a second circle around it with your china marker. As long as the tire’s tread and sidewalls are still in good condition, you can take your tire to a service center for an interior patch. If your tire’s tread indicators are showing, or if the sidewalls are damaged, you should discard the tire and buy a replacement with a high mileage warranty.

The most important think you can take away from this post is to check your tire pressure monthly during the year, and weekly in spring and fall, to catch slow leaks. Proper air pressure levels promote better gas mileage and less wear and tear on your tires.