Slow punctures: Is it safe to drive and should you repair it?

There is one thing that all of us here at B&B Vehicles agree on and that is the shocking state of the roads!! Read below for some do’s and don’t when you suffer the fate every driver dreads, a flat tyre!!

A puncture is an inconvenience but could possibly be potential danger. The slow deflation of a tyre can go undetected for a long time if you’re not tuned in to how your car is behaving or you don’t have a tyre pressure monitoring system fitted.

If you do spot a slow puncture, it might be safe to top it up and drive on it for a while, however it should be taken in for repair as soon as possible. The loss of pressure will be small at first, but continual tyre wear will eventually lead to a larger leak, more than enough to affect your car’s handling and safety.

How to spot a slow puncture?

The Highway Code tells drivers to give their car a visual inspection before driving off, and hopefully that will help you spot a slow puncture before it turns into something worse. If a tyre looks a little out of shape when compared with the other tyres on the car, that could be a sign of a flat or a partial deflation.

Another visual clue could be odd wear to the sidewall. If a tyre is dirty and has low pressure, then the sidewall will be in contact with the tarmac, which will ‘scrub’ the tyre clean, giving a better visual clue to a slow puncture by creating a black sidewall that you can pick out clearly through the dirt.

Of course, the other giveaway would be a piece of debris stuck in the tyre itself. We’re not saying you should get on all fours to give the rubber a proper inspection, but is there a screw or a nail that’s obviously embedded in the tread or the external sidewall? If it’s in the tread, it should be easy to spot, as the head will be polished clean if it’s in contact with the road when you drive.

When you’re driving, there will be audible clues to a slow puncture. It could be that a piece of debris in the tyre ‘clicks’ on the road for every revolution of the wheel. Or there may be additional road noise coming from a tyre that has less air pressure in it – if you think something isn’t right, turn off the radio and shut the windows so you can hear things properly and identify if you have a slow puncture.

 

Can you repair a slow puncture?

If you do have a slow puncture, it’s best to see if a repair is possible from your local garage, tyre fitter and get it fixed as soon as possible. Driving on a slow puncture for any longer than necessary is dangerous, because that slow puncture is more likely to become a fully flat tyre the longer you keep using it.

The usual culprit of a slow puncture will be debris that has pierced the rubber. If it’s a nail or screw that has gone through the tread of the tyre (the flat part of the tyre that is in contact with the road), then it will be possible to repair the tyre with a rubber plug that a repair shop can fit. However, if the damage has happened to a high-performance tyre a repair of this type may not be possible, as some tyre speed ratings are not recommended for repair due to the higher stresses put upon them.

 

If the damage is to the sidewall of the tyre, then it cannot be repaired regardless of the tyre type. This damage will be to the main structure of the tyre that supports the tread, so it will weaken the tyre, which will affect its ability to perform properly.

You may be tempted to do a home repair with a puncture repair kit, which you will find in cars where a spare wheel is an optional extra. However, the ‘gunk’ that’s used to seal the hole is only a temporary fix until the tyre can be properly repaired, so you’ll end up having to get the tyre fixed anyway.

Another potential cause of a slow puncture is a corroded wheel. If a steel wheel is rusty, it might cause gaps where the parts of the wheel are welded together. On alloy wheels, corrosion is very different. If it’s very severe, it could cause the metal in the wheel to become porous, allowing the air to slowly seep through the metal. That’s an extreme case, but it’s also common with cars featuring magnesium alloy wheels, as magnesium is naturally porous.

You could also suffer a slow loss of air if the wheel is kerbed or damaged in some other way. If the rim has a dent in it, that might be enough for air to seep out. Whether a wheel is damaged or corroded, you could seek advice from a wheel refurbishment company on whether a repair is viable, or replacement is the only solution.

In any case, the best advice is to stay on the lookout for slow punctures and other damage by checking your car tyres on a regular basis. If you detect a slow puncture, don’t ignore it as you’ll only be increasing the chance of a bigger problem developing at some point in the future. Get the tyre seen by professionals and either repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

Anyway, keep an eye on our blogs for Charity, Motoring and all things Newsworthy! If there is anything you would like to share with us, please contact: info@bandbltd.co.uk

Best Regards The Team.

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