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A valve stem comes attached to the vehicle’s tyre and is an integral part of the wheel that helps to keep the tyres inflated, and once inflated automatically closed to prevent air from leaking. The valve stem allows you to inflate or deflate your tyre as required and plays an important function in the safety of your wheel and also your car and passengers.

The tyre valve stem functions off tension caused by a spring and keeps the spring in the valve stem tight preventing any air leakages. The valve stem gets used every time you inflate your tyre or check its air pressure but it’s not something you think needs too much attention or replacement. With time and constant use, the valve stem can get damaged causing air to leak at which point you should replace the valve stem.   

A damaged valve stem can be the outcome of normal wear and tear or due to environmental factors such as extremely hot or cold weather, salty air or corrosion. In some modern cars, the tyre pressure monitoring system will tell you if the air pressure is low. If your tyres keep going flat for no apparent reason, that’s another sign that you may be having a damaged valve stem. To know for sure, pour soapy water onto the valve stem and if it bubbles from the stem’s tip or base, it’s a sign that it is damaged and needs replacing.

Once you have established the valve stem is damaged, you will need to arm yourself with some tools to help you repair it. You will need a replacement valve core and a valve stem tool which you can purchase at an auto part store.

Once you have the tools with you, the first step is to wear safety gear like glasses and an overall or a thick shirt as the pressure in the tyre can sometimes make the valve core shoot out. Once you have prepared yourself, then remove the tyre and proceed to deflate the tyre. Make sure the tyre is completely deflated before you begin the repair. After the tyre is deflated, you can use the valve stem tool to unscrew the valve off the tyre and get rid of the old valve core. Next, clean the valve stem a bit; you can do this by using the narrow end of the valve core tool.

The objective is to make sure the opening is free of dirt to keep the area free of obstructions. Once you have cleaned the valve stem it is time to install the new core. You do this by using the same end of the tool used to remove the old part. Then tighten the new valve using your hand making sure not to tighten it too much which can damage the part. Next, inflate your tyre to the recommended pressure and replace the valve cap and complete the job by fixing the tyre to your car.

Duane Dixon