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Flat tires can be caused by various issues, from punctures to slow leaks. It is, therefore, good to know the types of leaks that can cause a tire to flatten quicker and the amount of time it each can take. 

In this blog post, we will discuss how long it takes for a slow leak to flatten a tire and the various types of leaks that can cause it.

The rate at which a tire will deflate is determined by several factors, including the tire’s pressure when the leak began and the size of the hole. 

A car tire with less than 20 psi will be easily noticeable, but sometimes a slow leak will flatten the tire within a day, while other times, depending on the type of leak, it may take two weeks to happen.

To give a general idea of how long it will take for a slow leak to flatten a tire, here are some estimates based on a typical car tire with a pressure of 32 PSI:

• A small puncture (less than 1/8 inch) can take up to a week to flatten the tire.

• A slightly leaking valve can take 14 days to go flat.

• A rim leak can take a day to a week to flatten the tire.

• A dry rotted tire can go flat very quickly if the cracks are wide.

It is difficult to give exact timescales for your tire to lose all its air. If the leak is slow, you may not even know where the air is escaping from. We’ll get into that further on.

Other Factors

Tire Age

When tires are new, the rubber material is still strong and supple. However, with use and exposure to the elements, the rubber will begin to degrade and become brittle.

Also, as rubber gets older, it becomes thinner, weaker, and more prone to cracking, making it easier for air to escape. 

Dry rot means the decomposition of rubber molecules is mainly brought about by the unavoidable environmental elements of ozone, ultraviolet light, and oxygen reacting together.

Also, extreme temperatures can cause cracking as the rubber expands and contracts.

Finally, older tires are less durable than newer ones. This can make them more susceptible to damage from debris or potholes, both of which can cause slow leaks.

Poor Tire Maintenance

At the most basic level, poor tire maintenance involves regularly checking the tire pressure, rotating the tires, and inspecting the tires for any signs of wear and tear.

Driving on tires with low pressure will put a strain on the lip of the rim and the bead of the tire. Even when the tire is inflated to the correct pressure, the damage won’t repair itself, and the tire may continue to leak air. 

That’s why having the tire inflated to the correct pressure is more than just about road safety; it’ll prevent slow rim leaks too.

I’ve read on forums that slow leaks can be caused by not rotating tires when they are due. I’ve never thought this to be an issue personally. 

Although tire rotation is great for prolonging the lifespan of tires, it will do little to prevent slow leaks and your tire flattening completely.

Regular tire pressure checking allows us to check out the condition of the tire valve. Many slow leaks occur from the valve. When the cap is removed, check the inside of the valve and look for any small debris near the pin. 

This can cause the valve not to close fully and allow a small amount of air through. 

These leaks can be very slow, and you may not visibly notice a drop in pressure in the first week, but after a fortnight, it should be easy to see the tire flattening.

Tire Quality

More of a personal take on slow leaks. I have always experienced more tire leakage problems with cheaper tires – and cheaper rims. 

Of course, this is only anecdotal, and I can’t show you hard facts. Generally, though, I feel we get the quality we pay for. 

New expensive tires

More expensive tire brands have a larger R & D budget and often use better quality tire belts, deeper tread, and thicker sidewalls and shoulders that, in theory, should make punctures and rim or bead leaks less of a problem.

Lack Of Use

Flat Spots

Flat spots are caused when a tire has been sitting in one place for too long. The weight of the car, combined with the force of the road, causes the tire to compress in the same spot. A car tire isn’t designed for this. That’s why manufacturers recommend removing tires when a car is stored or at least jacking the car off the ground.

Flat spots can cause the rubber to become brittle and lead to the tire developing a flat spot.

There are a few ways to prevent flat spots from forming without having to resort to the two solutions above.

Drive your car at least once a week, even if it’s just for a short distance. This will help keep the tire from becoming compressed in one spot, as it is unlikely the car tire will be parked on exactly the same spot as it was on before you drove it.

To be sure, you can always use a piece of chalk to mark the spot on your tire before driving away.

Often read next: Do Tires Lose Air When Parked For Long Periods? [ANSWERED]

Dry Rot

When tires are not driven often, they are less likely to flex, which can cause the rubber to dry out and become brittle. The lack of flexing can also cause the rubber to become less elastic, resulting in small cracks that can let air through.

Dry rotted tires will cause slow leaks

Another cause of dry rot is exposure to the elements. The sun’s UV rays can cause the tires’ rubber to break down and become more susceptible to cracking and leaks.

If you always have the same side of your car facing the sun, these tires will dry out quicker than the other side in the shade.

Overinflation

There is always the temptation to slightly over-inflate your tires at the gas station. The reasoning is quite obvious it will allow longer gaps between having to visit the gas station to check and inflate your tires.

Overinflation can lead to a slow leak.

However, the recommended PSI is there for many reasons. One of them is that the tire has been tested to certain limits, and the recommended PSI is the one the manufacturer believes to be the safest and that will prolong the tire’s longevity.

If you over inflate your tire, you risk the air pressure inside being too high to be contained by the tire’s structure.

Any weakness, especially in the valve or around the rim and tire bead, is more likely to be breached when you have overinflated the tire. 

Once the damage has been done to these two parts, even inflating your tire to the correct psi in the future will not correct the damage that has been caused.

Overinflation will cause the tire to flatten more quickly and should be avoided, especially in older tires that won’t be able to withstand any increase in pressure above the tire’s recommended PSI.

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