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Old 05-16-2015, 03:33 PM   #1
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Undetectable Tire Leak

I have a problem with one of my tires that is driving me absolutely crazy!

Two years ago my left rear inner tire developed a slow leak. I could not locate the leak myself so I had CoachNet send a tire service truck to my house. The service tech could not locate the leak either. He suspected my valve stem and valve stem extender (solid type) so he replaced them both even though they showed no leakage. This seemed to fix the issue.

Last year the same problem returned to the same tire. Once again I couldn't find the leak myself, so once again I called CoachNet. It was a repeat of my first service call. The tech spent 30 minutes soaking the tire, rim and valve stem with soapy water and like the last guy, he found no leaks. Just like the last guy, he replaced the valve stem and extender. This worked fine until last month. Now I am facing the same problem again!

I don't understand why a tire would hold air fine for months and then suddenly start leaking for no obvious reason. I have a TPMS so I keep a close eye on it. How can I repair a leak that I can't find? Suggestions?

Thanks.

Craig
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Old 05-16-2015, 04:05 PM   #2
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1. Valve stem cap pushing on the valve stem.
2. Put it in a large tub/lake/swimming pool full of water and look for bubbles.
3. Somebody letting the air out?
4. temperature has on effect of tire pressure.
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Old 05-16-2015, 05:40 PM   #3
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Undetectable Tire Leak

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrt_1111 View Post
1. Valve stem cap pushing on the valve stem.
2. Put it in a large tub/lake/swimming pool full of water and look for bubbles.
3. Somebody letting the air out?
4. temperature has on effect of tire pressure.

Sorry, I should have been more detailed.

I swapped the TPMS valve stem caps three times. No leaks on the tires they were swapped to.

RV is parked securely behind a locked gate in my back yard. If someone wanted to let air out it would be difficult, plus the front tires are easier to get to.

This is happening at all times of the year, winter and summer.

Mobile tire techs don't carry tubs, they just squeeze soapy water on them. It may be time for me to take it to a truck tire shop and tell them to dunk it.

Thanks.

Craig
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:09 PM   #4
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I just went thru the same thing except it was about 4 to 5 lbs. a day. Turned out to be the TPMS sensor. It was leaking where the plastic sensor was attached to the female thread that attaches to the valve stem. I had removed it several times & the last time it was in a position to see a bubble once soapy water was applied to it. Very frustrating to say the least.
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Old 05-17-2015, 06:18 AM   #5
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I had the samething inside left dual leaking. Tire pressure monitor corroded to both inside dual extenders that was 2 monitors and extenders in the trash. I had a local truck tire company come out to my house and look for the leak. My leak was the valve stem itself were it fit onto the wheel. He would wiggle it and it would leak.
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Old 05-17-2015, 06:29 AM   #6
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I had a leak on the pass inner dually and it turned out to be the core of the stem was bad and leaking. So I had a tire tech replace all the valve CORES with new ones.
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Old 05-17-2015, 06:46 AM   #7
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Exact same tire & problem I've been having for 3yrs. Only mine doesn't always lose air. I can go months without any change, and then one morning before I'm ready to hit the road it'll be down 10 lbs. I've decided to just live with it. I check the air pressure every time we're ready to go. But I will admit it's pretty puzzling.
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Old 05-17-2015, 06:56 AM   #8
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How old are your tires? Are you close to needing new ones (by age, not miles)? I'm inclined to say you've got some fault in your tire that only occurs when on the coach. I'd say if you replace the tire and stems and you still have a leak that leaves only the rim. Rust on the bead, micro crack, who knows?
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Old 05-17-2015, 10:21 AM   #9
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It sure sounds like a leak where the tire bead butts to the rim, but if so, why does changing the valve stem appear to stop the problem for awhile? But merely squiring soapy water won't find a small leak in an out of the way place.

Are these metal stems? Rubber deteriorates with the kind of flexing you get on big tires, so only metal should be used. I have also seen (on a friend's coach) a metal stem worn through by contact with the wheel where it came through to the outside. It was just a shiny spot, but close examination with a magnifying glass showed a hairline crack that lost a few psi each day.
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Old 05-17-2015, 11:34 AM   #10
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My valve stems and extenders are solid metal. There is a rubber bushing in the wheel slot opening to protect the extenders from coming into contact with the wheel surface.

My Michelin’s are 3 years old. The age of my tires brought up another component to this puzzle that I hadn’t thought of. After looking over my records, I discovered that my first tire service call was actually 3 years ago, not 2. That service call involved my original set of Goodyear’s, so this also happened with another set of tires. The tire shop installed new valve stems when they mounted my Michelin’s, so that also means that I’ve now gone through three sets of valve stems. Since that’s the case, I’m starting to think that it must somehow be the rim.

Two different tires, three different valve stems, two different valve stem extenders and three different valve stem cap/TPMS sensors, what else could it be?

Craig
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Old 05-17-2015, 12:33 PM   #11
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A bad rim (bent or rusted bead area) will typically cause very slow leaks and won't always show up even in a bath. It may only leak as the tire flexes under load, so maybe only a tiny puff of air at each revolution. Usually you see gradually declining psi, over weeks or even months, but always trending down.

If you see a sudden decrease after a year of steady pressure, I can't see a rim bead problem, but I guess anything is possible. Once the air loss occurs, what happens when you air it up to normal again (without changing anything). Go right back down, or does it take months again?
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Old 05-17-2015, 12:36 PM   #12
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I've had similar problems three times on 3 separate class A's. Once the tire went down to 40 lb overnight. In all cases I re-inflated and kept very close watch on the TPMS as well as using the manual gauge 3-4 times a day. In all cases I (or a tire tech) finally found the offending nail, screw or piece of wire.

Based on my experiences it seems Michelin's have a type of self sealing layer on the inside of the casing and this limits the air released unless the tire is parked so that the membrane can't fully seal the leak. In fact, I had a tire doing the same thing in Tucson in March. Being as the leak was finally requiring air every few days I took it to a truck tire place for repair. The tire tech found a roofing nail in the tread and when he pulled the tire to patch it inside he also found a piece of wire penetrating inside, but nothing showed on the outside. He said this is why he wipes the inside of the casing with a fuzzy rag whenever he patches a tire. Since the two patches were put on the tire hasn't lost any air.
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Old 05-17-2015, 12:48 PM   #13
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I'm certainly no expert, but a logical guess would be a "positional leak," meaning that the tire only leaks in certain positions - like when a small hole in the tire is located at the bend of the contact patch at the bottom of the tire, or a defect in the rim is subjected to more torsional stress from the axle.

It might explain why it can't be found with a bubble solution, and why it only leaks some times and not others... it only leaks when you just happen to park it in that one position.

It might also explain why replacing non-leaking valve stems "fixed" the problem: it didn't, the tire just got move out of its leaking position.

I dunno, maybe... my two cents, worth every penny.
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Old 05-17-2015, 08:21 PM   #14
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Since it seems you've tried about everything that one normally runs into, do you have aluminum wheels and have you checked them? Aluminum can develop porosity where air or liquid can begin to seep through the metal. I've had this happen to one aluminum wheel and an aluminum water pump.
It would be another place to check. I would air the tire up to the max allowed pressure and use soapy water on the entire wheel, give it 5 min., my last air leek took that long to develop a little group of fine bubbles. You may need to do just sections of the wheel at a time.
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