So you’ve identified that one of your tires has a slow leak now, and two questions are normally asked at this stage.
The first is how far can you drive on a slow leak, and second, is it dangerous to do so?
This article will explore the dangers of driving with a slow leak and what you can do to minimize the dangers you may face.
Firstly we are well aware that quite often, you cannot get your tire repaired or replaced as soon as you identify the have a slow leak. Life doesn’t work like that.
However, it is dangerous because if your tire is not inflated to the level the manufacturer stipulates, it can’t do its job as well as it could when properly inflated.
Generally, driving a car that is only a few pounds per square inch below the recommended level will not cause any undue harm to your car or the tire or cause much additional danger.
The difficulty really arises if that slowly suddenly becomes much worse and either flattens your tire or reduces the pressure so much that it does become dangerous.
When your tire loses 10 PSI, you will notice a sharp decline in its ability to grip the road, and if it’s on the front wheels, a more vague steering response when you turn the steering wheel.
Even the slightest underinflation, as a minimum, means that the tire is not wearing evenly.
This will mean you have to replace the tire quicker as more of the tread is being used and under more pressure than the other areas of the tire.
The major concern with having a slow leak is the dangers of a blowout. A blowout can occur suddenly and are the result of a sudden decompression of the tire.
Having a slow leak could mean that the sidewall and shoulder of the tire are under increased stress due to the lack of pressure needed to hold it rigid.
The air pressure inside the tire is the only thing keeping the sidewall stiff. This is unlike other areas of the tire where cords and steel belts are underneath the tread to keep it rigid.
Even a slight reduction in tire pressure will cause the sidewall to work harder and collapse, causing it to tear and all the air to leave it rapidly.
You won’t know if or when this is going to happen if indeed it happens at all. But if it does
It can be life threatening as the car will be uncontrollable.
Low tire pressure can negatively affect braking and stopping distances in several ways. The most obvious is that the tire won’t be able to grip the road either, so it will take longer for the vehicle to stop.
Low tire pressure can reduce the friction between the tire and the road, which reduces the amount of traction the tire can achieve. This, in turn, will increase the braking and stopping distances.
Other Parts A Slow Tire Leak Can Cause To Fail
Below are two other car systems that may not directly be dangerous because a slow leak over time will certainly impact your car’s braking and handling performance and eventually prove dangerous.
When a tire is low on air, the sidewall of the tire flexes more than it should. This added flexing causes extra stress on the shocks, struts, control arms, and ball joints.
The shocks and struts absorb the road’s bumps and vibrations, while the control arms and ball joints help keep the wheels in proper alignment.
When the tire is underinflated, they are forced to work harder as the car is slightly vertically misaligned, and more strain is put on the suspension connected to the tire with a slow leak.
The good news is you would have to drive your tire with a slow leak open many hundreds of miles for this to cause the need for an immediate repair.
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Sometimes a new tire is the better option if your tire is old or has been damaged before.
We recommend Priority Tire. They often have clearance sales that result in the cost of a new tire being little more than the cost of repairing the damaged one.
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The major concern with having a slow leak is the danger of a blowout.
Blowouts can be sudden and are the result of a sudden decompression of the tire. A slow leak could cause the sidewall and shoulder of the tire to be under increased stress due to the lack of pressure, as the air pressure is the only thing keeping the sidewall stiff.