Tires constantly leaking? It might not be the tires

Wheels contributor John Mahler answers reader questions on tires.

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Wheels contributor John Mahler answers reader questions on tires.

Q. I have a 2002 Hyundai Sonata with tire problems. Two of the four tires have slow leaks. I have had both of the leaky tires removed and remounted and they were good for several months but then they started to leak again. The tires are Goodyear Assurance P205/60R16 on alloy rims. Must I buy new tires or new rims or both, or is there a less costly solution?

A. Sounds like you may have a leaky alloy rim. That is more likely than a leaky tire, especially since the leaks stopped for awhile. Some cast alloy rims are just plain porous. It is not uncommon for alloy rims to leak around the bead area where the tire touches the rim. Next time they are dismounted, make sure the installer cleans the inside rim area and cleans the tire bead as well.

Ideally, you should paint the inside of the rim where the tire touches it to help it stay sealed. When the tire is reinstalled, the inside of the rim bead area can be coated with a mild adhesive.

Q. I own a 2006 Lexus RX400h. The spare tire on this vehicle is a full size on an alloy wheel. The original owner never included it in the tire rotation. I recently purchased four new MXV4 S8 tires and would like to include the spare in the rotation. However, the spare was made in 2005. Is this too old to use? Should I just leave it as a spare?

A. That spare tire is just too old to be included in the rotation. Save it as a spare. But check it regularly for cracks. You should take the tire out and look at the base of the tread blocks with a flashlight. Should you find cracks, the tire is garbage. Same thing for spider web cracks on the sidewall. Then it would be time to buy yourself a new spare. If you only intend to use the spare to drive to a repair shop, the spare can be a cheaper tire as long as it is the correct size.

Q. I will replace my tires soon. I only drive about 17,000 km per year. The tires are never worn after five years, but they bake in the sun on my front pad parking and I know that’s not good. I would like to replace them with all-year-round winter tires. What you think are the best all-year-round winter tires for the price and are they worth the money? Will they also last five or six years in a low mileage vehicle?

A. Yes, the all-weather tires will last five years based on time, no problem. Tread depth will be determined by your mileage and driving style. My choices in this category in order are: Nokian WRG2, Hankook Optimo 4S, Goodyear TripleTred, Vredestein Quadrac 3, Yokohama W. drive. The Yoko is the pricey one in the bunch; all the others are worth what you pay.

Q. I have a 2009 Mercedes E350 4Matic with the AMG package (P245/40R18). The current tires are shot. Tire comfort/noise followed by tread life take priority over performance. Are there any tires you recommend for that vehicle?

A. With a tire size like that, you will be getting a very high performance tire whether that is your aim or not. So let’s not even look at the Ultra High Performance (UHP) end of the scale. or even Maximum Performance tires. Let’s look at the Touring end of the scale.

These tires will still have the required speed and load ratings you need, but are engineered more for comfort and longer tread life. The other thing I would recommend is that the tire be Touring all-season (even if the tire will never see snow). All-seasons in this bracket will have superior water channeling abilities.

Top of the list in ride comfort would be the Michelin Pilot A/S Plus, tread rating 500; next comes the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity (440); then the Continental ExtremeContact DWS (540); then the Bridgestone Potenza RE960 AS (400) and, finally, the Continental ExtremeContact DW (340).

Throwing price into the mix from least expensive on up, the list becomes: Conti DWS, Conti DW, Bridgestone RE960 AS, Michelin Pilot A/S Plus and the Turanza Serenity.

To me, the clear choice — if we mix these two lists — would be the new Conti ExtremeContact DWS. I really like this tire; it handles well in the wet and has a good ride (for a Y-rated tire). But if comfort reigns supreme, go with the Michelin.

Q. I’ve got a 2006 Audi A3 2.0T with DSG and the Sport suspension. I’m looking for a new set of tires and was wondering what you think of the Nokian WRG2 for use on my car. We live out here on the Coast in Nanaimo, so you know we need half-decent rain tires and it would be nice to not have to change wheels every November and put on winter tires. Would these tires in the P225/45R-17 size meet my needs?

A. The Nokian WRG2 is an ideal tire for your situation. It does very well everywhere except in deep snow. So that should not be a problem in Nanaimo. You will find the tires a tad noisy but other than that, I find they are faultless. Excellent wet grip, too.

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