Why can’t I pump up my car tyres, do I have a flat tyre?

By David Sholicar

If you can’t inflate your tyres to the correct pressure, the chances are that you have a puncture.

Flat Tyre

However, other tyre issues can cause inflation issues, so here’s what to check for if your car tyres won’t pump up.

Wheel issues

There are two major wheel issues that can cause your tyres to slowly deflate:

1. Bent or damaged wheel: with claims related to pothole damage at an all time high, wheel damage is on the increase. Hitting a pothole or other road hazard can cause your wheels to distort, compromising the tyre installation and causing a leak. Check your wheels aren’t bent, buckled or corroded and that the tyre remains properly mounted.

2. Poor quality valve stems: valve stems experience wear and tear and may start to degrade, causing a slow leak of air. Over tightening will also damage the core, which can cause a leak. A new set of valves is provided when you have a tyre change, so check when yours were last replaced and renew them if necessary.

Tyre damage

If you’re trying to pump up your tyres and they keep losing air, look for the following signs of damage:

  • Nails can penetrate your tyre and cause a slow puncture. If you find a nail, don’t remove it, but book into your local Protyre garage for a tyre repair.

  • Damage due to road hazards can include cuts and bulges in the sidewall of the tyre caused by impact with stones or potholes. Check your tyres for damage or book in for a free tyre check at Protyre.

  • If the seal between the metal tyre rim and the rubber of the tyre is damaged, that can cause pressure loss. This could be caused by debris lodged in the bead. Whatever the cause, have your tyres looked at by a qualified professional.

Locating the leak

If your tyres are losing pressure and you’re certain a puncture is to blame, you’ll need to locate the problem. Most often, you’ll hear a rapid hiss as the air escapes. If the tyre is hot, the area around the puncture will feel hotter than the rest of the tyre. You can also remove the tyre entirely and immerse in water - if you see bubbles, you’ve located the leak.
The most reliable methods is to use soapy water. Make up a solution of washing up liquid and water and place in a spray bottle. Spritz the entire surface of the tyre, starting with the valves. Wherever bubbles start to form is the location of the leak, though you may need to wait 5 minutes for them to show.

Ask the experts

Although you can make repairs yourself with a sealant kit, if you have wheel rim damage or other problems, you’ll need to let the experts do the job. At Protyre, we’re the local garage you can trust, with a network of friendly, efficient and professional garages across the UK.
Whether you need a puncture repair or a new set of tyres, we’ll get you back on the road in no time.

Not sure where your local Protyre garage is? Use our Garage Locator to fin out.

Find My Protyre

Share with your friends...

About the author

Article Author Photo
By David Sholicar
David is the National Retail Operations Manager for Protyre. One of David’s areas of responsibility and expertise is dealing with the DVSA and MOT’s for Protyre. As the Authorised Examiner Designate Manager ( AEDM ) David deals with applications for changes to the many Vehicle Testing Stations ( VTS’s) including managing the growth of the Number of MOT testing stations that Protyre operate, allocating MOT tester roles, and monitoring the MOT Test logs to ensure that Protyre MOT standards are maintained as the best in the industry.
View authorArrow right