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Spare tire leaks along rim

My truck’s spare tire hasn’t been properly inflated since 2002. Ok, I know that’s a bad sign, but it is indeed a fact. I should point out I’ve never had a flat tire in the entire 40+ year history of this truck, at least never when using it, so it’s quite possible I’ll never need to use the spare tire. But I’d like to have one that holds pressure just in case. I decided to be better about the spare tire situation and inflated it the other day, and in 2 days it was flat again.

I used the soap bubble , and discovered it is leaking at the tire/rim interface along about 6-8 inches. What are my options? I don’t need this spare tire to be perfect as I’d only use it to limp home, at most 5 miles on surface streets 30 mph max. I’m thinking presently the only sol’n is to remove the tire and smooth whatever’s causing problems along the rim, then remount the tire. Are there any simpler solutions to this? I’ve also wondered if I could fix it by just keeping it inflated for a while, maybe a little overinflated even, and it might seal and fix itself. Is that a happening thing? Or over-optimistic?

Now, now, George. You know the answer, and you already told us. There’s probably rust between the rim and the bead of the tire, and you have to press the tire off the rim on the side where it’s leaking, clean everything up well, reseat the tire, and then pray it works.

Of course, the spare is 40 years old and a fine product of the Maypop Tire Company. You could boldly go where you haven’t gone before and replace the tire. I guess you could cheap out and get a used tire from a shop, since in your world you don’t use a spare.


Car Talk Lackey
That is an old tire which should be replaced.


I recall having that problem once on a tire on my truck and found rust on the rim at the bead. As a temporary patch I brushed off the loose rust and scale and lubricated the tire bead with ATF to ease getting it seated and prevent further damage to the tire. The ATF seal held up and I forgot about it until replacing the tire long afterwards.

And of course there are bead sealers just for that problem.

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Well my spare tire is at the back of the cabins, course the night before leaving on the 535 mile trip I see a roofing nail on my sidewall. Now wife new car,not my car has a flat fill kit instead of a spare, So I put on the spare, strap the tire with the roofing nail in the sidewall to the car roof rack make the drive, get a new tire, as I only had 3000 miles on the tires no problem for wear on 4wd, it is about $200 to get the new spare lower and raise mechanism installed, $95 just for parts.
So I am sans spare (without a spare) I will probably stay that way as after 180k miles and an o3 I will probably be getting another vehicle before I have to worry about a flat, and I have AAA, so I can get towed somewhere in the event I need emergency road assistance.

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Murphy may be waiting for you @Barkydog.

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For $10 or $20 a tire shop will break the bead, clean it with a wire brush and reseal it again with bead sealer. Been there before.

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Probably won’t happen with a tire between 15 and 40 years old.


New steel wheel $40, New bargain basement tire $80, Not having to worry about and fiddle with a leaky 40 year old spare… Priceless!

You got your money’s worth on that spare, George, give the old girl the treat of a new spare! :relaxed:

Good ideas. No argument just buying a new rim and tire would work. And yeah, I realize of course it isn’t a cost effective thing to try to 100% diy’er fix. My local gas station shop guy says if I bring him the wheel he’ll take the tire off and put it back on for me, all for $5. I’d have to clean up the rim myself is all.

But I still think I’ll see if I can figure out a way to make it a diy’er job. More fun. The biggest technical challenge is getting the tire off the rim. I mean without buying a tire changing machine. Current thinking is to use some 3/4 inch threaded rod I have on hand, nuts, washers, and a couple of 4 x 4’s to squeeze the tire enough to pop it from the rim. Back-up idea, see below

For $5, I’d let the local guy do that. Clean the rust off the rim and hit it with a rust convertor and a coat of paint. Buy a newer used tired. Something not from the Pleistocene epoch!

Those manual changers work but with a LOT of effort and sweat.

How about a brand new tire instead of “a newer used tired.”

Don’t have to spend the big bucks . . . could get a Cooper, for example

That manual tire changer can be a back breaking pain and a bubble balancer will be needed after reinstalling the tire on the rim… BTDT when I was younger. I still have an old manual changer and my back hurts just thinking of using it.

As a young lad spending summers on a farm, I spent many an hour fixing flat tires on farm implements. Pull the wheel off, bust the bead with hammers and irons, peel the outer bead over the wheel, pull and patch the tube, put it back together, air it up and hope for the best.

As an old man (if 47 is old), I can’t possibly imagine doing that anymore. If I didn’t have access to a tire machine and balancer, I would gladly pay the going rate–whatever it is–at the tire shop.


I worked at a gas station as a summer job for high school students years ago, and part of that was to fix customer flat tires with their tire machine. Pretty nifty. IIRC I’d just have to lift the wheel so to position the center hole over a post, then thread a cone shaped gadget down that post to perfectly center the tire. Then I think all I had to do is press a pedal w/my foot, and this sort of hand shaped piece of steel on the end of an arm would pop out and press on the tire/rim interface, and tout-suite, the tire was de-beaded, no longer stuck to the rim. I seem to recall a lot of noises like you hear from street buses, air brake sound effects, so that tire machine must have been compressed air powered. It also had a long arm that would swing around 360 degrees in an arc, to remove the tire completely from the wheel, and I discovered quickly I had to watch out for where that arm was swinging toward. Ouch! … lol …

That’s called a center-post tire changing machine

They’re still around, and they work quite well for steel rims, not so much for alloy rims, because if you’re not careful, they will mar them BIG TIME

I believe Coats still sells them . . . the basic design hasn’t changed much. Yes, they’re pneumatic

The owner of the gas station told me if somebody w/a tire problem came in w/an alloy rim, tell them to go across the street! … lol … That must be the reason.

One problem, at the time I didn’t know what an alloy rim looked like. But I must not have confronted any b/c I never had any customer complaints. I quite liked that job actually, especially the serving up gas part, fun to meet so many new people every day.

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I have had tires seeping air in spots around the bead . Lay the tire down on a flat surface & put some water around the bead to see where the bubbles are . Hit the tire with a shop hammer close to the rim where it’s bubbling . Sometimes this works & surely you jest , calling yourself old at 47 , I’m 64 & think nothing of changing a tire by hand .

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Good suggestion @Sloepoke … I tried your ‘bang it with a hammer’ idea, and it appears to be working. To increase the chances the banging with the hammer would re-seat the tire, I combined your idea w/ @Rod_Knox 's idea about using transmission fluid to help lube & seal the bead. I did all this with the tire still seated on the rim. First I wire brushed the bead area. Then used compressed air to clean the bead area of any debris. Then I leveled the tire horizontally and discovered I had no ATF on hand, so in a pinch I dripped a little gasoline on the leaky portion of the bead area, let it sit there for 15 minutes. The idea was to let it soak in, soften up and lube the rubber a little. Then I filled the tire to 35 lbs, applied the soap bubbles, and it wasn’t leaking as much, quite a noticeable reduction in fact; but still leaking a little in the same spot, along about 6 inches. So out comes the hammer. A 5 lb’er I call “The Persuader”. I whack the tire as close to the rim as I can, no good. So the second whack I apply a little more whacking force, & lo and behold the leak stops! But it continues leaking over about 2 inches. So I whack it there, and so on, until it stopped leaking entirely. Has held pressure for 24 hours now.

If you can’t make it work, smack it with a hammer. If that doesn’t work, get a bigger hammer.

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