Many of us have run into a flat tire at one time or another. A flat tire doesn’t always come on suddenly from a blowout, a flat tire can be the result of a tire leak. If you can find a tire leak first, it can prevent you from being stuck on the side of the road changing a flat tire. You can follow these steps below to help find any leaks and save yourself the bigger problem of a flat tire down the line:

Step 1: Regularly Check the Air Pressure

It’s always a good idea to keep a tire inflation gauge in your car so you can have it handy to check all 4 of your tires. If you encounter one tire having less pressure on a consistent basis, it is more than likely that you have a leak. It’s important to note, that tires can, and will lose some pressure as the outside temperature drops in the fall and winter months.

Step 2: Fully Inspect Your Tires

Make a habit of remembering to fully examine your tires, including, checking the tire’s tread, the sidewalls, and the bead on the tire (the bead is the area of the tire that sits on the wheel). If you cannot see it with a naked eye, you can always use a magnifying glass to look it over for and cracks, cuts or objects that could possibly be embedded in the tire’s tread. If you come across any trouble spots, take an oil-based pencil that writes on rubber, formally known as a china marker, and mark any areas that could be causing a leak.

Flat-tire-18091951-ogStep 3: Re-Inflate Your Tire

If one or more of your tires is not set at the recommended pressure (which can be found in your owner’s handbook), you will need to re-inflate them to the correct measure. If you do not have an air compressor of your own, these can be found at any gas station. As you fill up your tire(s) be sure to listen for any high-pitched hissing noises, as that can be a signal of air leaving the tire. This can be one of the best ways for you to find a leak.

Step 4: Use Bubbles to Locate The Leak

Gather any kind of spray cleaner and spray all around the tire tread. Cover around 1/6 of the circumference at once. If any bubbles form, this is an indication of an air leak. Once again, if you find any of those bubbles, mark these with your china marker.

Step 5: Plug Your Tire Then Take it in for Servicing 

In certain instances, and if you’re lucky, your leak will just be a tiny hole that measures smaller than a quarter of an inch in size. This will mean that you can give it a temporary fix by using a tire plug. To do this, use a pair of pliers to remove any objects in the tire, then create a smooth, uniform area with a tire reamer and then insert a tire plug. If the tire’s tread and sidewalls are still in stable condition you can take in your tire to a service station for a permanent patch. If however, your tire’s sidewalls are damaged, you will need to discard your current tire(s) and purchase a new replacement tire. If you are unsure of the amount of damage, the service professionals will be able to help you determine what needs to be done.

To avoid getting stuck in the situation of a flat tire, just remember that you can take preventative measures such as catching a tire leak that will help you avoid that headache.