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How to Seal Leaking Rims on a Car

Updated February 21, 2017

The chrome and alloy rims found on some cars can be prone to leaking, leading to corrosion, seals that do not fit or work properly and leaks around the bead. Quick, effective remedies are available for home repairs, although some people prefer to find a professional to repair their tires and beads because the process can be difficult to carry out without the right tools. If you decide to repair the leak yourself, invest in quality bead sealant and some professional tire irons.

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  1. Locate the source of the leak. To find a leak in a sealed tire or between a tire and a rim, it may be possible to submerge the whole tire in water. Wherever you see bubbles, you have an air leak. To perform this test, the tire itself must be inflated or there will be no air to pass through the hole you are trying to find. Mark the leak with chalk.

  2. Remove the air from the tire by pressing the valve stem or taking out the valve stem with a valve-stem puller.

  3. Repair the hole in the tire or remove the tire from its housing and break down the bead using tire irons. Chose either option depending on where your leak is. If you chose to ask a professional to do this, there are plenty of suitable companies that offer wheel-repair service at a reasonable cost.

  4. Inspect the tire and bead for corrosion and damage. According to Junk Yard Dog, corroded bead seats allow a tire wheel rim to loose air and result in a 70 per cent decrease in tire life.

  5. Remove rust or unwanted material with a wire brush, using a light touch. This will prevent future leaks when you reassemble the tire and beading. Buff the entire bead to reduce the chance of new leaks occurring elsewhere. Take care during this step or you will add to the damage.

  6. Replace the valve stem with a new version to stop leaks developing around it.

  7. Seal the bead with bead sealer by breaking down the beads. Do this while the tire is still in the wheel and apply a liberal amount of the sealant with a suitable brush applicator, which is often provided. Spread sealant over the entire circumference of the bead to establish the best result.

  8. Reassemble the tire and test for leaks, using the same water-tank-immersion technique.

  9. Tip

    Consider getting an expert to disassemble your tires, unless you are experienced. It is a difficult and time-consuming procedure. Nitrogen can be used in tires to reduce corrosion.


    Take care when removing tires and changing the beads. Tires are under high pressure and can cause damage to hands and fingers if not dealt with safely.

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Things You'll Need

  • Water bath
  • Chalk
  • Valve-stem puller
  • Tire irons
  • Wire brush
  • Valve stem
  • Bead sealant

About the Author

Natasha Parks has been a professional writer since 2001 with work published online and in book format for "Thomson Reuters," the "World Patents Index" and thomson.com. Her areas of expertise are varied and include physics, biology, genetics and computing, mental health, relationships, family crises and career development. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biophysics from King's College, London.

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