Tire valve stems are valves located on the wheel of a vehicle, from which the tires are inflated. They contain a spring-loaded valve core, which is sealed by the air pressure inside the tire. Over time, valve stems can age, break, become brittle, or start to leak, causing severe tire problems and impairing the driving/ riding experience.
When the valve stems start to leak, the tire will no longer retain air. Depending on how severe the leak is, the tire may be slowly losing air, or completely deflated.
In most cases, the quickest way to replace a valve stem is to take it to a bike store, remove the tire, and replace the valve type. However, in cases where this is not an option, it is possible to remove a tire and replace the valve stem manually.
Today’s article will show you how to manually remove the valve stem core in both mountain bikes and larger motor vehicles such as automobiles.
Remove the valve stem
Your first step is to remove the valve cover. Because the cover is small and easily removable, put it in your pocket or another safe place so as not to misplace it.
Using the valve stem removal tool or a grooved metal valve cover, turn the valve stem counterclockwise, turning it several times until it comes out of the valve. You will feel a gust of air if the tire is under pressure. As with the valve cover, place the valve stem in a safe place as it is small and easy to lose.
After depressurizing the tire, remove the valve stem. Start with your fingers, rotating the stem clockwise, and end with the valve stem removal tool or the grooved metal valve cover. If you are replacing a damaged tire and your valve stem is not at issue, hold on to this stem. You will need it when re-pressurizing the tire, and again, it might be easily lost.
How to Replace a Valve Stem
Materials needed: Tube air pump, bike repair stand and valve stem removal tool. If replacing the valve stem on an automobile, you would also need a nut wrench, fine point pliers, tire iron, and jack stand.
- (On automobiles and large vehicles only) Loosen the lug nuts: Unfasten the wheel nuts for the wheel on which the valve stem is to be replaced using your jack and tire iron or nut wrench.
- Remove the wheel: Remove the wheel and place it on the ground. For larger vehicles’ wheels, place them with the outside facing up.
- Deflate the tire: Remove the valve stem cover, and remove the valve stem core with the valve stem removal tool to release air from the wheel.
- (On automobiles and large vehicles only) Remove the tire: Grab the tire via its removed lip and pull it up so that the opposite edge at the bottom of the wheel now touches the edge of the rim. Insert the tire sheet between the rim and the edges and pry upwards to remove the lip from the side of the rim. When the lip is above the rim, work the rim plate around the rim until the rim is removed from the wheel.
- Remove the valve stem: Use pointed needle pliers to remove the valve stem from the wheel.
- Fix the new valve stem: Take the replacement valve stem and install it, starting from the inside of the wheel. Once positioned, use the needle clamp to install it.
- Reinstall the tire: Fix the tire on the wheel by pressing it on the rim until the lower beads clear the edge of the rim. Immediately once the beads clear the lip of the wheel, run through the wheel until the tire is completely installed.
- Inflate the tire: After reinstalling the tire on the wheel, turn on the air pump and inflate it to the correct specifications. Check your manual for the appropriate pressure.
- Check for leaks: When the tire is inflated correctly, check for any leaks to ensure your tire is secure.
For mountain bike tires, you could also use a simpler way of removing the valve stem core, without major tools. All you need are a screwdriver and some tubeless sealant, as shown in this video (Credit to MTB Tito):
For automobile tires, you can watch the process here (Credit to KludgeCraft):
In most cases, the easiest way to replace a valve stem is to take it to a bike repair shop, remove the tire, and replace the valve.
However, in cases where this is not an option, or you’re looking for a task in the garage, it is indeed possible to manually remove and replace a valve stem and tire with the appropriate tools and procedures. If you think there is a leak or damage to the tire and not just the valve stem, you should replace it altogether.