The health of your car’s tires depends on several components and if there is a problem with any of them, there will be an issue with mobility.
People’s view of tire maintenance is sometimes myopic. There is so much that is not considered – for instance, the tire valves.
Find out what the tire valve stem cap is, why it is important, and every other thing there is to know in this article.
What are valve caps?
Valve Stem Caps are important features built into tires to maintain pressure.
The valves help to keep tires inflated at all times and they are sometimes called the “Schrader Valve.” However, they need a piece of covering to prevent leakage – this is the cap.
Why The Tire Cap Is Important?
If you’ve been wondering why a valve cap is important, here are a few points to take:
Protects the Schrader Valve
The air valve cap is a small piece but it has a big role – it protects the tire valve stem. If they get damaged, you could have air leaks, which is never good for your tires.
Tire leaking could lead to a decrease in fuel efficiency. Thus, it is surprising how something so small like that could be responsible for road safety.
Regulates Tire pressure
Simultaneously, the tire valve caps are used to regulate tire pressure.
They prevent air from escaping so that the tire wear rate doesn’t increase rapidly.
In retrospect, low tire pressure affects the internal architecture of a tire, causing it to increase in temperature as it moves at a high speed. And once the temperature gets too high, a tire blowout is inevitable.
Do tire valve caps do anything?
There is so much a tire valve cap can do for you as a car owner.
First, it keeps you safe – a tire blowout can cause a serious road accident.
Secondly, this small valve stem cap ultimately saves you the stress and money of repairing or buying new tires.
Lastly, a good tire cap improves the lifespan of your tire – more fuel efficiency and even tire wear (within the specified period).
Can you drive without tire valve caps?
One of the many questions drivers have about valve stem caps is if they can drive without them or not.
The answer is Yes, but it isn’t advisable.
If there is something wrong with your car tires, fixing it immediately should be your priority. However, there are situations where you can’t help but try to drive to safety.
But you should make sure that when you eventually do, you should fix the tire at every chance you get.
If you have a missing or damaged valve cap, you might still be able to drive over some distances quite alright.
However, if you keep driving without it, dust and debris could get into the valve core and affect the quality of your tires.
Air valve caps are not expensive. They are affordable and available at many retail stores or any tire shop.
What happens if you don’t have a tire valve cap?
As small as the valve stem cap is, it is vulnerable. It can be lost or damaged.
You could lose a valve cap while trying to fix your tire or while driving on the road. On the other hand, it could get damaged due to the impact of the road surface.
Whatever happens, as long as your tire valve stem cap is not where it is supposed to be, you risk facing certain problems. Fortunately, it may not be immediate but over time, if ignored, it could be serious.
For instance, the valve stem core becomes exposed, making it vulnerable to clogging with ice, grease, dirt, and debris. If that happens, inflating your tire becomes very tedious.
And even if your tire doesn’t get clogged, there could be slow leaks. If this leaking continues, you end up having a flat tire.
Will Tires Deflate Without Valve Caps?
Yes, tires will leak air if they don’t have valve caps.
However, it is also important to also discuss other things that could cause a slow leak in your tires.
Degraded Valve Stem
If the valve cap doesn’t fall off, and dirt and debris don’t get to the stem, another situation could result – the valve stem could degrade.
Most valve stems come with plastic caps and even though they are waterproof, there is only so little they can do.
A plastic cap could degrade at any time and cause air to leak, eventually resulting in low tire pressure.
Another reason why car tires lose air is due to puncture.
Your tire experiences a leak when it comes in contact with any sharp object, such as nails, rocks, glass, or screws.
You might find it very difficult to drive when your tires lose pressure due to a puncture. That is why it is one of many tire maintenance policies to constantly check your tires regularly.
You can apply soapy water to the tire – if you see bubbles at a spot, then there is a leak.
If you don’t, you shouldn’t fail to inspect the valve stem caps too.
Your tire may also lose pressure and deflate during cold weather.
Tires are built to withstand certain temperatures. However, if the temperature levels are compromised, there will be a drop in tire pressure overnight, until it becomes flat.
Bad Wheel Mounting
If you fail to mount your wheel properly, you may lose pressure due to the impact of the wheels on the tire.
Are Tire Valve Stem Caps Universal?
The answer depends on the type of valve stem.
Some tire stem caps have a universal fit, making them versatile and usable for most cars and bicycles. However, the exception comes for thin racer tires because of their size.
Besides, an important factor you have to consider when choosing a valve stem cap is the Tire Pressure Sensor or Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).
Rims with TPMS use a different stem from rims without TPMS.
So, are tire valve caps universal?
Check the rim for the tire pressure monitoring system to get what is best suited for your vehicle.
Are there different size tire valve stems?
Yes, there are different sizes, depending on their uses/types. They include:
Tubeless Rubber Snap-In Valve
The tubeless rubber snap-in valve stem is the simplest and the commonest. It is often found in passenger vehicles and has a pressure rating of around 65 PSI.
It fits tires with 0.453 to 0.635 inches in diameter and 0.88 to 2.5 inches in length. That makes it compatible with small trucks, medium trucks, and SUVs.
High-Pressure Tubeless Snap-In Valve
A little advanced is the High-Pressure Tubeless Snap-In Valve Stem which was solely designed for big trucks and heavy-duty vehicles.
This stem has a pressure rating above 65 PSI up to 80 PSI. It fits tires between 0.453 to 0.625 inches in diameter and 1.27 to 2 inches in length.
It also supports plastic and metal valve caps.
High-Pressure Metal Clamp-In Valve
The strongest schrader valve stem is the High-Pressure Metal Clamp-In. It has the highest pressure rating – up to 200 PSI.
It is often integrated into race cars and high-end vehicles.
This valve stem is designed to work solely with metal caps – no plastic.
How do I know what size valve cap I need?
Generally, every tire has manual information that indicates everything you should know, including your tire’s PSI. You can check to see what size is suitable for you.
Alternatively, you can add 15mm height to the rim’s size. It is the rule of thumb to get the perfect valve size for your tires.
However, you must figure out whether the rim has a tire pressure monitoring system or not.
What to do if you lose your valve cap?
If you lose your tire caps, the next thing you should do is visit any of the online retailers’ stores you know or any tire shop around you.
For the latter, you might be able to get the perfect replacement cap that fits the valve stem.
From this article, you now know that tire stem caps are important and need to be in great condition always.
With good tire maintenance, you may be able to mitigate certain risks associated with mobility on the road.
And more importantly, keeping your car tires healthy, allows you to move freely on the road and not worry about blowouts or accidents.