The tires on your car or truck can develop leaks in several ways, and many times an auto repair shop can resolve them for less than the cost of a new tire. The leak's location plays a significant role in the ability to repair it, but taking the vehicle in so a tech can check the tire for you is an excellent place to start.
One of the most common ways that tires develop leaks is by punctures in the tire's tread from a nail, screw, or another sharp item that you drive over in the road. The nail or screw can push through the rubber and seal the hole until you drive on it for a while. Once the debris loosens in the hole, air starts to escape, and a slow leak develops.
Removing the debris opens the hole, and the tire will go flat. The simplest way for an auto repair shop to fix this type of leak is to plug the hole with a self-vulcanizing rubber plug that will fill the gap and bond with the existing rubber to form a seal.
The auto repair tech will remove the debris from the tire, use a tool called a reamer to rough up the edges up the hole, and then push a plug into the tire to fill the gap. In some cases, the tech can plug large holes with two plugs. Once the plug is in place, the tire is ready to be refilled with air and tested to ensure the leak is sealed. Spraying a small amount of water with some mild soap mixed in on the plug will produce bubbles if it is still leaking but will run off unaffected if the hole is sealed.
Often this tire repair can be completed with the tire still on the vehicle and takes a few minutes for an experienced tire repair tech to complete. The plug will typically last the life of the tire when it is installed correctly.
Another common leak that can occur on vehicle tires and requires an auto repair shop to resolve involves the bead or sealing surface around the outside of the tire where it meets the vehicle's wheel. A small rock or other debris can get jammed into the bead as you drive, causing a small gap that allows the air to leak out of the tire slowly.
An auto repair shop will need to take the tire off the vehicle and separate the tire and rim to get the debris out. Once complete, the tire is remounted on the wheel, the balance is checked on a balancing machine to ensure a smooth ride, and the tire reinstalled on the vehicle.
These repairs are not uncommon, and if you spend a lot of time on gravel or dirt roads, it can be something that happens with everyday driving. Reach out to a professional who provides auto repair services if you have this issue.