How to spot the signs of a slow puncture

How to spot the signs of a slow puncture

27 Aug

By Tom Boote

You may think it won’t happen to you, but a slow puncture is a fairly common scenario and can happen to anyone of us at any time. With the increasing influence of digital technology in cars these days, it’s easy to be complacent, believing that if a problem arises we will automatically receive a warning. This, however, isn’t always the case. 

For instance, all new cars come fitted with TPMS (tyre pressure monitoring systems), a clever bit of kit which can identify a drop in pressure, so you’d assume it would warn you of a slow puncture, right? Not so. While TPMS will let you know if your pressures are below their optimum, it can’t necessarily tell you why. 

So how can you tell if your tyre has a slow puncture? The signs aren’t always easy to identify, but there are some key indicators to look out for. If you miss these, or ignore them, it could lead to some serious damage, or worse an accident. With your driver safety in mind, here’s our simple guide to identifying the signs of a slow puncture, and what to do if it you incur one.

First things first - what is a slow puncture?

When a slow puncture occurs your tyre starts to lose air, and the pressure begins to drop. This which means your tyre can’t perform as well as it should – and needs to. If a slow puncture occurs, over time you may notice a change in driver comfort. For instance, the road may start to feel a little bumpier, especially over potholes. You may detect a change in the responsiveness of the steering, and also handling. You will almost certainly notice a reduction in braking performance. If ignored, a slow puncture will leave you at risk of complete tyre failure, and that can have dire consequences. 

Is your car pulling to one side of the road?

If so, you may have a slow puncture. Let’s say you’re driving on a fairly flat road; if you were to gently release your hold of the steering wheel and notice the car beginning to pull to one side or the other, this is suggestive of low tyre pressure is in one or more of your tyres, possibly due to a slow puncture. You should check your pressures at the earliest safe time, and if necessary top them up. If the problem persists after topping up the air in your tyres, it’s a clear indication of a slow puncture. In the event that - having checked your pressures - there levels are as should be and the pull persists, it’s worth checking the wheel alignment and/or tracking. Pop into your local Protyre garage for assistance.   

Does your steering wheel vibrate when driving?

If this is the case, it’s the sign of a potential slow puncture. A loss of air means that both the tyre and wheel are becoming unbalanced, setting off a vibration. This will be especially noticeable when driving at a high speed, such as on a motorway.

Does your steering feel unresponsive, and suspension feel harder?

These are two more classic signs of a slow puncture. When cornering, your steering will may a bit less responsive than usual. Many drivers are quick to notice changes the handling characteristics of their vehicle, so there’s a good chance you’ll identify this sign berfor things get too serious. If you do, our advice is to check your tyre pressures. 

The same goes if your vehicle’s suspension isn’t as forgiving as normal. You will probably detect any change to the ride quality on your usual everyday route home. If the suspension feels rougher than normal, it’s highly likely that one or more of the tyres is underinflated - and possibly due to a slow puncture.

What are the causes a slow puncture?

There are several reasons for a slow puncture, including:

  • a nail or screw may have pierced the tyre;
  • the tyre may have suffered a severe impact after going over a pothole; or
  • the tyre valve is faulty. This final point is the most common reason for a slow puncture.

Can I avoid a slow puncture happening to me?

All to often, incurring one of these reasons is unavoidable, but you can do something to minimise the consequences of a slow puncture. Our advice is to regularly undertake a visual inspection of your tyres, and check your tyre pressures. This doesn’t need to be a difficult process, and can be done at your local petrol station - usually for free. It can be done quickly and easily the next time you’re filling up the fuel tank. 

Are there any tyres that prevent punctures?

No, not exactly prevent, but there are tyres with technologies that significantly reduce the consequences of incurring a puncture. Leading premium tyre manufacturer, Continental, offer UK drivers two excellent products that mitigate punctures that are worth checking out.

Firstly, their ContiSeal™ tyres include a unique technology able to seal a puncture hole that’s up to 5 mm in diameter, like those typically experienced when a nail or screw penetrates the tyre tread. This is achieved thanks to a special resin compound inside the tyre that seals the hole instantly, retaining the structural integrity of the tyre. This means that a driver can carry on with their journey, without having to immediately stop to change tyres. 

The second Continental technology that provides extended mobility in the event of a puncture is found in their range of SSR Run Flat tyres. These feature self-supporting reinforced technology that prevents the sidewall from being crushed, and the tyre coming away from the rim. Tyre structural integrity remains, providing you with the opportunity to drive for a further fifty miles, at a maximum speed of up to 50 mph. Furthermore, by fitting SSRs to your car you don’t have to have a spare tyre in your boot. 
Tyre sidewall with Continental Self-Supporting Run Flat technology...

...and without

Need a new set of Continental Tyres? Buy online at Protyre and save £££s!


Worried about slow punctures? Seek expert advice

If you believe you have a slow puncture but aren’t sure what to do about it, pop into your nearest Protyre garage. Our dedicated team of tyre experts can assist you.

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