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Slow Punctures | Should your repair them | Are They Dangerous?

Author of the article

By Saoirse McClure Fisher

calendar 10-12-2020 tag MAINTENANCE clock 10 min read

It is vitally important that you look after your tyres. After all, they are the only thing that is keeping you in contact with the road. While we are sure that you are a conscientious driver, a slow puncture isn't always obvious. This article will look at slow punctures, whether you can repair them and how they might be riskier than you think. Read on to find out more…

What is a 'Slow Puncture'?

It might sound a little obvious, but there are, in fact, different types of punctures.

A slow puncture is when air escapes gradually as a result of minor damage to your tyre.

Large punctures are obvious as there will be some marked signs that will alert you to their presence. They could be things such as: -

  • A distinctive 'pull' to one side
  • A loud buzzing or rumbling noise
  • Vibration felt through the steering wheel or car chassis

… And of course, the ever-helpful 'white van man' gesticulating wildly while pointing at your wheels at traffic lights!

Slow punctures are nowhere near as obvious. You probably won't experience any of the above. Because there isn't any short-term change to the car's handling, they can be really difficult to notice.


What Causes Slow Punctures?

Slow punctures can be caused by a variety of things. These might include: -

  • Small sharp objects on the road, such as nails or broken glass
  • Minor damage to the tyre or rim caused by driving over potholes
  • Old tyres beginning to crack
  • A damaged tyre valve.

If you've managed to catch a nail or tack, you might find that it is still embedded in the tyre. While it may block the hole, it isn't a safe situation to drive with.

How to Tell If I Have a Slow Puncture?

So we've seen that slow punctures aren't always the easiest to spot, so how can you tell if you've got one?

If you have a newer car, you could be alerted by your TPMS (tyre pressure monitoring system). This is a system that automatically monitors your tyre pressure and shows a warning light on the dashboard. 

While this is a great bit of kit, it will only advise you when the tyre pressure drops below a given threshold, which can take a while.

You might find that you notice a decrease in the cars handling performance over time. This can mean that you've left it too late. Driving on uninflated tyres is never a good thing.

If you find that you constantly need to top up your tyres (or one in particular), that is a pretty good sign that you've sprung a leak.

The best solution is to regularly inspect your tyres. Pay attention to the tread and condition. Are your tyres worn, or are they showing any cracks? Check the sidewalls, valve seats and rims. Pay careful attention to the surface of the tyre itself. Nails and glass tend to stand out pretty well against black rubber!

Why are Slow Punctures Dangerous?

So, you may be wondering why slow punctures are more dangerous, a little air lost here and there isn't a big deal, right?


Once a tyre's structural integrity is compromised, it all goes downhill (even though it's flat). Slow punctures can rapidly turn into a big puncture, especially at high speed. The pressure placed on the tyre when driving fast can cause a blowout. This is the last thing you need while doing 70mph on a busy motorway or dual carriageway.

It isn't just about steering either. Stopping distance can be affected by underinflated tyres. The risk of the tyre failing completely is magnified if you have to perform an emergency stop. Talk about a tyre losing grip at exactly the wrong time!

Can You Repair a Slow Puncture?

Slow punctures can often be repaired easily, but numerous caveats make it difficult: -

Tyres aren't designed to be driven for long distances while under-inflated. If you've had that puncture a while, there is a good chance that your tyre has already become fatigued and damaged in other areas.

Slow punctures often occur on older tyres. Most reputable tyre replacement services won't touch a tyre above a certain age. It's just too risky!

Run-flat tyres can't be repaired. Because they are rigid, it is impossible to tell whether the sidewall has sustained any damage. No professional tyre repairer will work on a run-flat.

Sidewall damage isn't repairable. The sidewall of your tyre is what supports the entire weight of your vehicle. It is what is known as a 'major repair area'. While your initial slow puncture may not be on the sidewall, if you have been driving for a while unawares, it could be seriously damaged.

Time for a Replacement?

Provided you are selective with your choice of tyre provider, you might find that replacing a tyre is as cheap as repairing the tyre. 

As we said right at the start, your tyres are the only thing keeping you in contact with the road. 

We are a firm believer in the following: -

If there is doubt, then there is no doubt.

With something as important as your tyres, it really pays to not take chances. If you are unsure, it is worth getting your tyre checked by a qualified professional, or alternatively arranging for it to be replaced quickly and easily.

Motokiki offers several options for replacement tyres, with brands to suit all budgets for most vehicles. Click here to see if there is a tyre for you.

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