Alloy wheels don't seal tire bead well - Drive Accord Honda Forums |
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post #1 of 11 Old 12-11-2016, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
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Alloy wheels don't seal tire bead well

I am a new member, first post, so be gentle.

I drive a 2007 Accord Sedan V6 with 80K miles. I am having trouble with slow air leaks in my tires (standard alloy wheels, 250/50-17 tires I think), anyway the stock size. I have had trouble for most of the 7 years I have owned this car with slow loss of air pressure. When I take it to my tire store they never find an actual puncture or other cause of a slow leak, and blame it on the alloy wheels and difficulty sealing the tire bead against the rim. They refit the tire with some sort of sealant, and it works for several months until it starts again.

It first started when I had Cooper CS4 tires put on. When I destroyed 2 tires driving on nearly flat tires, I took their advice and replaced two with Uniroyal (Tiger Paws?) tires again in the stock size. These seem to seal better, but still occasionally develop slow leaks.

I have a friend who is a mechanical engineer and owns an Acura with alloy wheels he said he has occasionally had this problem, thinks it is due to little bits of old tire clinging to the rim and not meticulously cleaned off before putting on new tires. I live in Alabama and we have no salt on the roads, so I doubt corrosion is a problem. He has considered sandblasting his rims (inside only) before getting new tires.

My wife drives a 2003 Accord EXVL with similar 16 inch alloy wheels, and her car has had this problem on rare occasions, say twice in 12 years.

Any ideas for a fix would be appreciated.

RT Barr

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post #2 of 11 Old 12-11-2016, 10:46 PM
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Welcome to the forum! This was a well written post, so no worries about that! You did mess up your tire size though :p

Your friend is right about the wheels needing to be meticulously cleaned. But it's not bits of rubber, it's built up corrosion that must be cleaned away.

I've worked in 2 different tire shops in the past so here's my experience:

Most alloy wheels that are more than a few years old have corrosion on the inner bead surface. This corrosion has a rough texture and prevents the tire from sealing completely against the rim, ideally that inner surface should be perfectly smooth. So the people changing the tires can do a number of things:

The first is scrub the corrosion off. The one place I worked at had an angle grinder with a knotted wire brush for that purpose. It was by far the most effective method. The other shop I worked at only had plain, manual wire brushes. These work ok but require much more effort. At that shop I was new and "gung-ho" about the job, so whenever I encountered corrosion on the inner bead surface I would scrub the (SHAVING CREAM, BE NICE AND CLEAN) out of them to remove the most corrosion possible. The guys who had been working there for years did not make that kind of effort...

The other option for dealing with corroded bead surfaces, is what I saw the more senior employees doing. Applying a crap-load of bead-sealant to the bead surfaces to help seal the tire to the wheel. You mentioned that your shop did this for you. I'm willing to bet your bead surfaces are corroded and the shop just keeps applying sealant instead of removing the corrosion.

That's not to say the bead-sealant is entirely bad, it does have its purpose. When I encountered a badly corroded wheel, I would do my best to remove most of it but the surface was still not perfect. It is at that point that I had no choice but to apply bead-sealant for the best possible seal.

Unfortunately, there's not much you can do as a DIY'er. You're at the shop's (or employee's mercy) which reinforces the saying: If you want it done right, do it yourself. Perhaps the next time you're in for a tire change / leak repair you could ask to see the condition of the inside of your wheels so that if there's corrosion you could ask that it be removed rather than "sealed".

Hope this helps!

Corroded Tire Bead Surface:

Clean Tire Bead Surface:

Bead-Sealer (lousy pic, but the best I could find to get the point across):

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Last edited by RickBlaine; 12-12-2016 at 08:07 AM. Reason: foul word in an otherwise most excellent and helpful post
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post #3 of 11 Old 12-12-2016, 03:06 AM
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I love them Discount Tire chairs!

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post #4 of 11 Old 12-12-2016, 05:22 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, derass, your information is quite helpful.

I will ask to inspect the inside of the rims the next time I have to get service.

My tire store is a locally owned shop that sells many brands. I am a regular customer with 5 vehicles to buy tires for, and they have always worked hard to please me. I think they will be willing to try the angle grinder approach.

RT Barr
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post #5 of 11 Old 12-12-2016, 07:10 AM
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Be forewarned removing the oxidation will only fix the problem for a while since the paint is removed the aluminum will corrode again.
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post #6 of 11 Old 12-12-2016, 07:49 AM
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Same issue with my 2002 RSX wheels I use as winters... I have to re-seal them every 2-3 years cause they start to leak air... tire shop only charges $10 a tire so its ok for now... but switching tires did not help... so definitely the corrosion on the old alloy wheel.... one day I plan to remove all 4 tires and paint the rim then after have them reinstalled.

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post #7 of 11 Old 12-12-2016, 08:00 AM
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No problem!

The brush we used on that grinder was identical to this:

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post #8 of 11 Old 12-14-2016, 04:01 PM
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alloy wheels are also slightly porous.
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post #9 of 11 Old 04-03-2017, 05:02 PM
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I have a slow leak in one of the front tires, about 5 PSI in 15days. So, I loose 1psi every 3 days.
Based on the informative post in this thread, my best course of action should be: visiting a tire shop, and specifically ask them to clean the rim? Any one has experience on this? What's the results?

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post #10 of 11 Old 04-03-2017, 05:31 PM

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Originally Posted by visionguru View Post
I have a slow leak in one of the front tires, about 5 PSI in 15days. So, I loose 1psi every 3 days.
Based on the informative post in this thread, my best course of action should be: visiting a tire shop, and specifically ask them to clean the rim? Any one has experience on this? What's the results?
First figure out WHY it is it the valve stem seal? The bead on the tire? Corrosion on your rims? Or an actual hole in the tread?

Get out a spray bottle, fill with a couple drops of Dawn dish detergent and water, shake, and spray the valve stem seal and look for bubbles. Then do the bead of the tire.

If it is a leak at the bead of the tire- where it meets the rim, then it may have corrosion which prevents a good seal. Next time the tire is off the wheel, you could use a grinder ($10 at Menards) and just remove the corrosion, then add some paint to the bead.

It is a shame KO Tire of Elk Grove Village, IL closed in 2015. All they did was install tires- that's it, and they made a living for 30+ years doing only that. Only used a hand held torque wrench to install to manufacturer's torque specs....They had a sign above the waiting area asking customers to NOT post positive reviews on Yelp! and Google, because they were so over the top they had to be fake. I am not joking- they actually would turn down business and even be booked 2 weeks in advance to install tires. Insane- but they would remove the old tire from your rim, take a grinder to it, and coat it in a fast drying paint good for keeping corrosion at bay for 5 years. Then Road Force balance your wheel, and install them with all the valve stem seals in the "6 O'Clock" position. God, my heart skipped a beat watching those guys.

I am still searching for a place that can come close.....
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post #11 of 11 Old 04-20-2017, 01:57 PM
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The wheels on both of my cars were corroding, so I had the tires taken off, stripped and sanded them, and painted them.

After stripping and sanding the surfaces I used an aluminum etching product, then Rustoleum Silver Wheel paint and clearcoat. The beads got clearcoat only. It takes several coats of each to do the job right. Did this several years ago and have had no leaking problems. The beads were pretty groty with old tire residue to start off.

I even had the bead let go on a tire once once in cold weather while driving along. It was coated with tire residue.

Shops are in a hurry to get repair orders finished, not to do it the right way. Sanding the bead clean and clearcoating is the ticket.

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