Staying in place has brought a lot of “newness” to your life. Maybe you’ve joined the craze of making your own bread. Perhaps you’re finally up to speed with navigating Zoom and attending virtual meetings.
Yet every time you head outside to drive to the grocery store, you notice a flat tire. Why? It’s been sitting in a garage. You haven’t driven anywhere! Why do your car tires keep going flat?
Like every component on your car, there are a variety of reasons your tires could be flattening between uses.
Have you inspected your tire to ensure nothing is in it? Often, a sharp object embeds itself into the tire and punctures it, leaving a slow leak in its place. Nails, shards of glass, bits of metal, and more can sometimes hit the rubber just right as you drive over it, and leaves a tiny hole. This can be a slow leak, or cause your tire to go flat in a matter of hours.
While a lot of this debris is difficult to avoid as you’re driving down the road, do you best to avoid situations where you know your risk is higher. Head around construction sites. Leave enough space between you and the person in front of you so that you can make split decisions. It can save you from having to buy new tires before their time.
Like every part on your vehicle, your tire is only designed to last for so long. Rubber degrades over time, even if you don’t use your car as frequently as you used to. (That’s also why you should inspect your spare tire regularly too.)
Of course, not every tire is created equal. Because different manufacturers use different materials in their final product, the life of your tires depends on the type of tire you select.
Even if a tire is never used, it still succumbs to the effects of age. As rubber ages, it stiffens and cracks. They can be difficult to see, even close up, which is why it can develop a slow leak without you knowing where it’s coming from.
As a tire ages, it weakens and develops slow leaks. It will appear flat even if it’s sat for an extended period of time. If a tire gets too weak, it runs the risk of a blowout as you drive. A low tire, no matter how flat it appears, is worth investigating further to ensure your safety.
The valve stem is the tiny tube that sticks up from your tire. You unscrew the cap when you need to add air. Even though this valve stem is set back in the middle of your wheel, it’s still at risk of being damaged as you drive. If you knick it while turning a corner, for example, it can puncture it and allow a slow leak to develop.
Like your tire, the valve stem can only last for so long. It can corrode from use. It can wear down with age. It can clog from dirt and debris. And as this occurs, it can develop a crack and allow your tires to lose air.
The older a tire is, the more susceptible it is to deterioration. A lot of that is from wear and tear. Dry rot can also occur, which is the natural deterioration of rubber.
You may be used to dry rot in an old tree stump in your backyard. It’s similar in rubber too. As rubber is exposed to different elements in day to day life, it slowly starts to wear. Cracks and flaking can be caused by things like:
- The extreme temperature variations we frequently face here in Colorado
- The mag-chloride we use on the roads in wintertime
- UV damage from our intense sunshine
- Long periods of sitting without use
Inspect your tires regularly to catch potential problems that might impact your driving.
Sometimes your tire won’t hug the rim of the wheel the way it should. This connection is known as the tire bead, and can cause slow leaks if not properly connected.
The tire bead is the rubber edge that attaches to the rim of the wheel. It’s made of a metal-reinforced rubber compound that is specifically designed to help hug the two pieces together. It seals it into place to prevent problems as you drive.
If your tires aren’t installed properly, it can cause a slow leak. This is almost always the case if you’ve recently purchased new tires. Bring your car in and have it inspected to get to the root of the problem.
Depending on where you leave your car throughout the day, vandalism can occur. One of the most common acts is simply letting the air out of the tire. After accessing the tire for damage, the situation is easily remedied by inflating it once again. The best way to avoid vandalism is to be aware of where you park your car.
In a lot of cases, drivers are alerted to a flat tire through their monitoring system. On the dashboard, the tire pressure alert icon turns on, alerting you to a potential problem. If you’ve checked all four tires and they appear to be inflated correctly, it might be a problem with your monitoring system.
The tire pressure monitoring system is designed to warn you when tire pressure is low. A malfunction with the sensors is possible due to a variety of factors, including faulty wiring, weak batteries, or improper sensor programming. One of our mechanics can ensure your tire pressure meets your vehicle’s standards, and if the dashboard light is still on, we’ll run it through diagnostics to determine where the real problem lies.
Even if you are a careful driver, always aware of your surroundings, road hazards can pop up that are out of your control. When you hit a pothole, swerve to miss unexpected debris, or bump a curb as you’re turning, it can cause damage to your tire, and result in a flat tire.
Not all tire problems can be fixed. Sometimes your best solution is to purchase a new set of tires.
We’re here to help you navigate it all. Whatever questions you have about your vehicle – from a flat tire to your transmission system and more – we’re here to help you and keep you on the road, safely, no matter what the road conditions entail.