A slow leak in a car tire might mean that the metal core inside the valve stem has become loose or faulty. New valve cores, and the valve stem tool to insert them, can be purchased at most automotive parts stores. Valve cores are sold for two types of tires: passenger vehicle tires and heavy duty commercial tires. The package will specify the type of valve core and the range of tires it is used for. The valve core is the only part that can be replaced in a valve stem. If the valve stem is leaking elsewhere, replacement is needed.
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Things you need
- Wheel blocks
- Finishing nail
- Valve core
- Valve stem tool
- Air compressor
- Soap and water solution
Jack up the car enough to get the tire off the ground. Place wheel blocks behind one front and one rear tire. Set the emergency brake as an extra precaution to keep the vehicle from rolling.
Depress the valve core pin with a nail head to release air from the tire. Finishing nails work well for deflating a tire, and the nail head is small enough to let air freely pass around it. Deflating the tire prevents the valve core from becoming a metal projectile when you begin the removal process.
Insert the end of the valve stem tool into the valve stem. In a 3-in-1 tool, the core puller is the end shaped like a flathead screwdriver slot. Turn the tool clockwise to tighten the valve core and counterclockwise to loosen and remove the valve core.
Place the new valve core into the valve stem and tighten it until it is hand tight. Hand tight means you can't turn the valve core with your fingers alone. Insert the valve stem tool and tighten the valve core to ensure a snug fit.
Fill the tire with air. Spread a soapy solution over the new valve core to check it for leaks. If bubbles appear, tighten the valve core some more. You will not see air bubbles when the valve stem core is tight. Let the jack down and remove the wheel blocks.
Tips and warnings
- Take care when screwing in the new valve core. If cross-threading happens, the whole valve stem will need replacement.
- Changing the valve core without deflating the tire can result in injury.
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