You need to use the family car. As you walk out to it, you get a sinking feeling when you see that one of the tires is flat and looking distinctly worse for wear. When you take a closer look, you realize that there is no damage to the tire itself, but instead, there is air escaping at the rim. You need the car now, and you have some tire sealant in the garage. Will this be enough to seal the leak?
Non-latex -based tire sealants work on rim leaks as a temporary fix. However, you don’t need to use a tire seal in many instances because the leak can be fixed by simply cleaning the dirt or any other foreign body lodged between the rim and the tire, causing a slow leak.
Flat tires are the bane of the motorist’s life, and they always happen at inconvenient times. Of course there is never a convenient time! Can you use an ordinary tire sealant to fix the leak?
Does Tire Sealant Work On Rims?
Although you can use some tire sealant to fix a tire leaking at the rim, it is not ideal as this is not the designed use of regular tire sealants. There are other products with a thicker consistency, which are better suited and will have better results.
If you have no other options, it is, however, possible.
There are several caveats:
- The first is that you can’t simply fill the tire with the sealant while the wheel is on the car.
- You must remove the wheel and let out the remaining air.
- Using Tire sealant is a temporary fix.
- If the wheel rim is damaged or buckled, you may have the wheel professionally repaired.
What Causes Tires To Leak At The Rim?
There are several reasons why leaks may occur at the rim.
- If it is a new tire, it may have been fitted incorrectly.
- The tire may not be the correct size or have a manufacturing defect.
- The rim may be damaged.
- A foreign body may have lodged between the tire and rim.
How Does Normal Tire Sealant Work?
Regular tire sealants fix small holes on the tire sidewall, shoulder, or casing.
There are two broad categories of tire sealants:
- Latex-based sealants
- No Latex-based sealants
Latex Based Sealants
Latex bases sealants use the natural coagulating properties of Latex to seal the tire. The mixture is contained in an ammonia-based solution. When a leak occurs, there is a rush of air which causes the sealant to the place where the air is escaping; this makes the ammonia evaporate and causes the latex molecules to thicken, which seals the hole.
Latex-based sealers are effective for short-term use but not for an extended period. After a time, the remaining ammonia evaporates, the unused sealant solidifies, and the inside of the tire carcass is coated in a messy substance that is difficult to remove
; this can unbalance the tire and may eventually result in you having to replace it.
Although they are adequate to repair typical holes in the tire carcass, Latex based sealants are not the recommended sealant to fix a leak between the rim and tire.
Non-Latex Based Sealants
Non-Latex sealants don’t rely on a chemical reaction to work. Instead, they are based on being a naturally thick viscous liquid. The liquid is drawn to a hole by the air rushing out of the puncture. The thick liquid forms a natural plug and seals the tire.
This product would be more suitable to fix rim leaks in a tire Because they are highly viscous.
How Do You Use Tire Sealant To Fix A Leaking Tire Rim?
Using tire sealant to fix a leaking rim is more complicated than using this product to seal holes in a tire.
The steps to follow are:
- Remove the tire from the car; this is very important as you have to check both sides of the rim for the leak.
- Spray water (with a small amount of dishwashing liquid) around the whole rim
- Check for bubbles on both sides of the wheel. If you see bubbles, that is the point where the air is leaking out. Mark this with chalk.
- Once you have identified the leaks, Remove the remaining air out of the tire.
- Check for damage on the rim. If the rim is buckled or bent, you should not fix the leak and must have the rim repaired professionally.
- Carefully and thoroughly clean the space between the edge of the tire and the rim.
- At the place you marked with chalk, get a friend to help you and push the tire sidewall away from the rim.
- Check for foreign bodies which may have been holding the tire open. If you can see an offending object disrupting the seal, remove this. Fixing the leaking rim may be as simple as removing the offending objects and cleaning the area.
- Apply the tire sealant through the valve stem once the area is cleaned well and you have re-seated the tire.
- Partially fill the tire with air and bounce the wheel while rotating the tire; this will help the tire re-seat itself.
- Fill the tire with air (to the pressure prescribed by the owner’s handbook) and reinstall the wheel on the car.
- Once correctly installed and the car is off its jack, take it to drive around the neighborhood.
- Once again, when you return, use the spray bottle to check for leaks.
- If there are no bubbles, you are good to go.
- If there are bubbles, repeat the process and try again.
What Should You Do If The Tire Sealant Doesn’t Work?
Consider purchasing a specialized tire rim bead sealer if this process doesn’t work; this is similar to Non-Latex Based Sealants but have a higher viscosity and are more like a paste or “sludge” (One of the product names is “Sludge”!). These products are more suited to fixing a leaking rim.
The concoction is designed to act as a patch on a leaking area. Many of these products are not applied through the valve stem but rather directly to the offending section.
Please be aware that these products are messy to use, and they also leave a residue, which may make the tire challenging to repair in the future.
A short-term solution using non-latex-based tire sealant to seal rim leaks is viable. If a damaged rim caused the leak, then it is strongly recommended that a professional fix it as soon as possible.