Identify and Repair a Tire Leaking from the Rim (Fix Slow Tire Leak!)

A slow tire leak can be tough to diagnose and can cause all kinds of trouble. About two years ago I purchased new tires and had them installed. 3 of my tires were just fine but one of the tires leaked very slowly and it required me to have to add air to the tire about once every 3 months. The problem turned out to be a simple fix and not cost very much money, but only after two attempts to have it repaired by a tire shop. But, now I have learned what causes a tire to leak and am glad to share my new found knowledge and help you fix your tire!

How do I fix a tire leaking around the rim?

Clean the tire bead and bead seal in addition to the use of bead sealant will fix a tire that is leaking from the rim. To do so, the wheel must be removed from the car and the bead seal broken in order to clean the edge of the rim. This is easily done by a tire shop but can also be repaired at home if needed.

Sometimes accessing a tire shop is not possible and your tire has developed a bad leak around the rim. Perhaps your tire has a slow leadk If you are stuck, for whatever reason and cannot get your tire in to a shope and need to get it done

Sometimes the extra money to pay a tire shop is the problem. Just don’t want to pay someone to do it? Then do it yourself. Here’s how.

Diagnose the Tire Leak Around Tread, Valve stem, and Rim

Remove the wheel to easily access all surface areas of the tire and perform a repair if needed.

This is the time to use a car jack. Need to buy a car jack, or jack stands? Head over to the resources page where all of my favorite tools are listed including jacks and stands. Ever wondered if Harbor Freight car jacks are a good deal? Open our article about Harbor Freight Jacks.

To diagnose a tire leak, inspect the tread, mix a spray bottle of dish soap and water and with the tire pressurized, spray the soapy water around the valve stem, tread, and the rim. Inspect the rim for bubbles. If you cannot see bubbles, use more soap in the water and ensure that you cover all areas.

Even if the tire leak is very slow, it is possible to discover a leak using soapy water. With a slow leak, add more soap to the water and use a sprayer to spread soapy water over all surfaces. A very slow leak will produce very small air bubbles so must be inspected very closely.

If this still fails to allow you to discover the area where the tire is leaking, submerge the entire wheel and tire under a large container of water. Bubbles will rise in the water from wherever the tire is leaking.

But, at this point it is a safe bet that the very small leak is coming from the valve stem or the rim of the tire. Follow to learn how to repair a tire leaking around the rim.

How to Repair a Tire Leaking Around the Rim

Your car tire keeps going flat over a very small period of time with no punctures of screws or nails in the tread. Or it leaks very slowly over a long period of time and you are fed up with it and ready to find the solution to this problem and stop adding air to the tire every couple months. Perhaps like me you have been dealing with this issue for a long time and have already taken it in to a tire shop once and that did not resolve it. Now is the time to figure it out!

Here are all the details that you need to accomplish the repair on your own or provide you with the education to know what the job entails and what is required for the repair. By educating yourself even if you are going to take the wheel in to a shop to have them do it, this way you will know what the cause of the leak is and what is involved to repair it.

Defining the parts of the wheel mentioned in this repair:

The Bead of the tire is the portion of the tire that is in contact with the rim.

The portion of the rim in contact with the tire bead is called the bead seal.

  1. Take the core out of the valve stem and let the air out.
  2. Break the bead loose to be able to clean the bead seal.
  3. Clean the bead seal with a wire brush and/or sandpaper.
  4. Wipe the bead clean with wd40 or soapy water.
  5. Apply bead sealer and reinstall the tire.

Is it Possible to Repair a Tire Leaking Around the Rim Without Removing the Tire?

Removing the tire completely is not necessary to repair a leak around the rim but removing the wheel from the vehicle is required. Access behind the edge of the rim is needed to clean the bead seal which causes the leak due to built up debris or poor seal. Breaking the bead seal on the tire will allow you the room to fix the leak.

Repairing a leak around the rim will require you to remove the wheel but not too much more than that. Once the seal is broken you simply clean the bead seal and reinstall the tire.

How to Break Bead Seal of a Tire Yourself (2 Easy Ways)

Maybe you don’t have any money or maybe you don’t want to spend it all at the tire shop, well here is how to break the bead seal yourself. The DIY way!

Use the Weight of Another Car to Break the Bead Seal

Jack up another car wheel. Place the tire that you are repairing under the wheel of the jacked up car. Lower the jacked up car slowly onto the tire below. Be sure the valve stem is not going to get pinched. Lower the car until the bead seal POPS.

You may have to rotate the tire and lower the car onto it on the other side and break the seal in more than one place.

Use a Farm Jack to Break the Bead Seal

Use a farm jack between the bumper and the top of the tire that you need to break free from the rim.

Take your time and ensure the farm jack is well placed on the tire and the bumper. This may require using the jack to break the seal in more than one spot on the wheel.

Cleaning the Rim

Clean the rim with wire brush. Do a thorough job and you will allow for a clean smooth surface for the tire bead to sit without leaks.

Use sandpaper if you cannot get a wire brush in between the tire. 80 grit sandpaper is recommended to remove the rough corrosion, debris, or flaking paint quickly. Just be careful not to sand the outside of your rim!

Use Bead Sealant and Fill the Tire Back Up

Bead sealant will provide an layer of liquid to fill gaps and imperfections in the rim perhaps due to corrosion or other causes. It can be applied thinly to the bead seal on the rim to ensure a proper seal and prevent future leaks.

Use soapy water as lubricant to allow the tire to reseat if you do not have bead sealant or decide not to use any. If you have thoroughly cleaned the rim you should not need any. My tire was repaired with a good wire brushing and that’s it! And my wheel is old and had a fair amount of corrosion on the inside.

Tire shops do not use bead sealant when installing tires because it is an added unnecessary cost. It is only used in special circumstances where a rim leak cannot be fixed otherwise.

Bead sealer is a good idea for you to apply if you have had this problem before or for extra precaution to keep the tire from leaking.

What Causes a Tire Leak Around the Rim?

Rocks, or dirt particles wedged in the bead of the tire creating a gap is the most common reason for a tire leak around the rim. A common problem with alloy wheels is corrosion build up on the bead seal which also causes a tire to leak. Old flaking paint on the inside of the rim is occasionally the cause as well.

These causes can be prevented by:

  • Taking precautions when off road driving through dirt and rocks.
  • Keeping the tires well inflated to reduce the chance of allowing debris in.
  • Having the wheels inspected carefully when tires are purchased and installed.
  • Not painting the inside of the rim at the bead seal.

Will Tire Sealant Fix a Leak Around the Rim?

A tire sealant will not stop a leak around the rim of the tire because the slime and other products that you add into the tire move to the tread portion of the tire and are designed to repair a hole in the tread. To repair the leaking rim, the tire bead needs to be cleaned and the tire reseated.

Using a tire sealant also makes a huge mess inside the rim the next time you have to change the tire. It is not recommended. The next best recommendation to repair a leaking rim without removing is to let out the air and clean the tire bead the best you can with WD-40. This can help clear debris causing the leak.

Repairing a Wheelbarrow Tire or other Type of Tire

Repairing a tire leak on a wheelbarrow or wagon or other device that has wheels involves the same steps and principles.

The most common reason for a wheelbarrow to loose air is around the rim of the tire. This is due to the dirt and small rocks that find their way in to the bed seal of the tire.

To break the bead seal on a wheelbarrow tire, and to create enough room to clean the inside of the rim, use a clamp to clamp the tire together and out of the way.

Is a Leak Around the Rim Something I can do at Home?

For extreme conditions when you can’t get to the tire repair place, tires don’t just wait to get repaired and they sometimes need to be done right away.

A leaking rim can be repaired at home and it does not require tire shop tools (although they make the job faster). With a few DIY tricks such as using the weight of another car to break the tire free from the rim this job can be done at home. Although it is a relatively inexpensive job and if shops are open may be easy to take it in.

Not everyone has a tire changer at home so we have to figure it out the best way we can!

This video tutorial explains the steps to repair a tire rim leak and why it happens.

Hopefully these tips help you repair your tire at home.

If you opt to not do it yourself, most shops if you tell them you want the wheels cleaned and re balanced they will do it for a reasonable price.

Now you know what to look for and what needs to be done to fix your tire!

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