A leaking tire valve is a very commonly overlooked area in a leaking tire. The Schrader tire valve can form a leak with age, either from dirt or having a damaged seal. Sometimes, the tire valve can even be faulty from new. I have had this issue in the past and I have successfully replaced my tire valve with a new one.
So, if your tire is leaking air and you suspect that it is the tire valve, or you don’t know what is causing your tire to leak air, read along. I will be showing you how to find and fix a leaking tire valve.
Tire Valve Assembly
1. The valve casing
The Schrader valve casing can be rubber or solid but the valve inside is the same. The only difference with a valve is the temperature rating which would be used in a commercial application such as something with a heavy load and extensive driving.
On the image above I have the most common form found on vehicles. The casing is installed from the inside when the bead of the tire is broken or the tire has been removed and is pulled outwards. The groove on the bottom is what clips into place either on the aluminum or steel wheels.
2. The tire valve
The red ring on the outside is the outer seal that goes against the casing. The threaded portion moves towards the top. The center spring-loaded portion is the valve. When the air chuck is put into place, it’ll push on the center portion allowing air.
On the bottom of the center portion that faces the inside of the tire, there is another seal on this surface too. As for the outer casing, this is just a shell to hold the valve. It’s hollow in the center and there is a threaded portion on the inner-outer side for the valve.
How to Find and Fix a Leaking Tire Valve
1. Gather the needed materials
- Schrader valve tool. For removing the tire valve, you will need a valve removal tool. I have used this remover tool that I bought from amazon.com and i’m extremely impressed with its versatility.
- Tire valve stem. If the tests show that your tire valve is leaking air, you will have to replace it. I usually order the valve stem from amazon.com.
- Soapy water. We will be using simple soapy water to test the tire valve for leaks before we replace it.
2. Remove the valve cap
Removing the valve cap is the first step. Valve caps are important as it protects the valve and keeps any dirt out which may shorten its life or cause any issues. Some wheels have a metal cap, however, plastic caps are the most common. Be careful with metal-style caps. I’ve had issues in the past where they’ll corrode and seize onto the valve stem.
3. Apply soapy water to the valve
The tire pressure must be present. Meaning, even if your tire is leaking air, you have to inflate the tire. Then, using a spray bottle or a bottle with a soap and water mixture pour it on top of the valve. This mixture can be dish soap, hand soap, or car wash soap. Basically, something which allows for bubbling.
If the valve is leaking, you’ll automatically see bubbling as shown in the image above. Sometimes only tightening the valve is required as it might get loose over time. But if that doesn’t fix the problem, continue with the following steps.
4. Remove the faulty valve stem
If simply tightening the valve stem didn’t work, it’s time to replace it. Align the tool bit and you’ll feel it clip into place. Then, turn counterclockwise to remove it. Once removed, pull out the valve stem with your fingers, or if air pressure is still present in the tire it will push it out on its own.
5. Install the new valve stem
You can purchase replacements on their own, or just get a new valve stem and swap over the internal component. What I usually do if I am taking a wheel in to get a tire replaced. The shop will install new valve stems as the rubber can dry out and crack with age, so I remove the valve and keep it as a spare.
Take the new valve and drop it into the casing. Be mindful not to over-tighten it because it is really not needed. You may just cause damage to the new valve stem.
6. Inflate the tire to the correct PSI and check for leaks
You are near the end of the tire valve replacement job. Now, all you have to do is inflate the tire to the manufacturer-recommended PSI. That information will be written on the tire.
After you’ve done that, it is time to check the valve with soapy water to confirm that you have no leaks. I would also recommend rinsing off the soap and water mixture just with water to ensure you don’t leave any staining on your wheels.
Before reinstalling the cap, give the valve a flick to remove any water and then install the cap. Some valve stem removal tools have a pointed portion that is used to clean the stem from debris. Any debris inside may cause issues where the tire won’t pump up properly.