According to the Britannica Dictionary:

British people say: “I got/had a puncture
Americans say: “I got/had a flat or a flat tire

But what about "a slow puncture"?

According to the Oxford Learner's Dictionaries, British people say "The tyre had a slow puncture", but it doesn't show the American equivalence as always.

Do Americans say: "My car's tire has a slow puncture" in everyday English?

For example, do Americans say: "My car has a slow flat tire" in everyday English?

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    @MichaelHarvey Disagreed - I've never heard "slow (tire) puncture" in the US, and Ngrams suggests that it's much more a British thing.
    – stangdon
    Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 11:35
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    @stangdon - " losing in the race in Sweden when a slow tire puncture permitted Denis Hulme to pass the swede for the win" Tucson Daily Citizen "Had a slow tire puncture and also due for service. The service team scheduled an immediate appointment. " Review of Fitzgerald Buick GMC Rockville, MD (Maryland) "From all the scientific data that I personally read in the book about his life, it was a slow tire puncture." New York Times Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 12:27
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    "My car's tire" sounds off to me here. Either "My car" or "My tire". It's almost like "I burnt my hand's finger", which you would never hear. (Even if you had to disambiguate between your car and your bicycle, you would say "My car tire", not "My car's tire".)
    – TonyK
    Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 17:04
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    @TonyK Yeah, I think what gets me about "My car's tire" is - which one? There's 4 of them. If you said "My car's right front tire" it might sound okay. Or "One of my car's tires" if you don't want to be specific. You could say "My unicycle's tire", because that's unambiguous. Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 17:18
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    The most common way to say this in American English, based on a web search, seems to be “slow leak in my tire” or “my tire has a slow leak.”
    – Davislor
    Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 20:29

5 Answers 5


I live in the U.S., and I would say "My tire has a slow leak."

It is the leakage of air that is slow. The leakage might be caused by a puncture or by something else. If people in the UK say "slow puncture", that sounds illogical to me at first hearing.

I definitely wouldn't say "a slow flat tire", since flat tire is a state, not the time process that caused it.

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    Yes, we illogical Brits might say we have a slow puncture, even though, strictly speaking, the cause of the deflation might be a faulty valve. Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 10:28
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    This Canadian agrees with Jack. To me, "a slow puncture" sounds like a puncture moving slowly
    – gotube
    Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 10:40
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    Confirming: in "my" American English, it is absolutely "my tire has a slow leak", or even "I've got a slow leak". :) Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 18:00
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    I agree with this answer as an American English speaker, except for the use of “illogical”: in natural languages (and especially with idioms), “(il)logical” is largely meaningless. I agree that “a slow puncture” doesn’t make much sense when taken literally, but phrases are more than the sum of their parts and can acquire meanings of their own. Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 20:13
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    @JoshuaGrossoReinstateCMs Yes, Joshua, I should have said it seems illogical to me at first hearing. The fact that it's established usage means that it's correct and as logical as it needs to be. Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 22:33

I live in North America and we will say:

My tire's leaking.


My tire's got a leak.


My tire's leaking air.

This is different from I got/had a flat or a flat tire because having a flat assumes the air has mostly depleted or did so rapidly.


The answer provided by Davislor and CausingUnderflowsEverywhere is correct. We would typically and most precisely say, "My car tire has/had a slow leak" or more simply "My tire's leaking" and leave it at that. To us, a "slow puncture" would imply something puncturing the tire slowly over time, which wouldn't make immediate sense.

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    Thos doesn't really add anything new to the existing answers. Please take our Tour to familiarize yourself with the way this website works. Welcome to ELL!
    – Joachim
    Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 17:58

As an AmE, I find "My car's tire has a slow puncture" quite uncommon, I would most likely use the following in everyday conversation:

My car's tire is flat

I got/had a flat tire

"My car has a slow flat tire" is also weird, and doesn't make sense since a flat tire comprises of a tire that is already flat, it does not describe the process of the tire losing air.

I would probably say "my tire is losing air" or "my tire is punctured" too.

  • 2
    But those phrases ("My car's tire is flat", "I got/had a flat tire") don't mean the same thing. If your tire/tyre has (in Brit-speak) a slow puncture, it may not be flat: it can be perfectly usable, for days at a time even - it's just that, over a period of weeks (say), it will lose pressure and need to be reinflated. The question is, how would you describe that?
    – psmears
    Commented Aug 12, 2022 at 10:59
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    @psmears I would probably say "my tire is losing air" or "my tire is punctured"
    – DialFrost
    Commented Aug 12, 2022 at 10:59
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    That needs to be in your answer then :) (Presumably "punctured" is not enough on its own, because that would also apply to a bigger puncture where the tire goes flat almost immediately? A "slow puncture" is specifically one where it takes a very long time for the pressure to go down...)
    – psmears
    Commented Aug 12, 2022 at 13:06

As someone working in a field very closely related to medicine (but not a native English speaker), the term "slow puncture" makes sense, as it could be thought of as a "chronic puncture". A related term would then be acute puncture. Perhaps American clinicians are more inclined to use the term "slow puncture"?

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    The question is specifically about punctured/flat tires, not medicine.
    – Herohtar
    Commented Aug 12, 2022 at 15:09
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    Please at least skim the question body before answering, don't just post an answer to what you thought the title was about. Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 22:45

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