Tyre valves rarely attract our attention. However, they are very important for maintaining the right tyre pressure, which in turn affects both driving economy and safety. Read our article and learn more about regular inspection and replacement of valves.
What’s a Schrader valve?
Also known as an American valve, a Schrader valve is a type of valve used in almost all car wheels. It consists of three parts:
- a rubber or metal casing
- a metal tube, threaded from the inside
- a cap to prevent the ingress of dirt
Its main purpose is to maintain a constant pressure level in the tyre. It allows for easy inflation and deflation without disturbing the structure of the wheel.
A defective valve can cause a lot of trouble
While driving, our tyres are subject to many different forces. Due to dynamic acceleration, braking, or manoeuvring, the rubber regularly deforms and returns to its original shape.
The same forces are applied to the valve, which can immediately deflect by up to 30°. If repeated, this may damage the structure of the valve, exposing our tyre to pressure loss. Even a slightly distorted valve can cause your tyres to lose 0.2 to 0.7 bar per week.
Inadequate pressure increases the risk that the tyre may become damaged while driving
Low tyre pressure can cause many problems. It significantly extends the braking distance (by up to 20% on wet surfaces!) and may cause loss of control and impair structural integrity. Insufficient pressure also causes a faster wear of tyres, suspension, and brakes.
How often should you replace a tyre valve to be safe?
At your seasonal tyre change. In general, tyre shops include this service in the tyre change package. Even if you have a set of replacement wheels, changing the valves isn’t a problem.
Various models are available. The most durable ones are reinforced metal valves, which can be freely replaced once every second seasons, rubber equivalents should preferably be replaced every six months. This habit will significantly increase your driving safety.
The valve allows for easy tyre inflation and deflation
Replacing tyre valves isn’t expensive
Car tyre valve replacement doesn’t cost much. The service is often included in the cost tyre replacement.
Reputable maintenance companies include the cost of new valves in the prices, so you may be unaware that they are regularly replaced. However, you should always make sure that the service has been performed.
Hidden tyre valves: Is it worth investing in them?
Hidden valves are increasingly popular among drivers. They are often used often by those with alloy wheels.
Hidden valves have shorter tubes with an extended structure which doesn’t protrude beyond the edge of the wheel. They are installed using a special cable. Though such valves are somewhat more expensive and rather more difficult to replace, they offer increased protection against breakage or premature damage of the valve, as well as improved appearance.
Don’t forget about the valve cap!
Tyre valve caps have a greater effect on driving performance and safety than you might think. While driving, dirt, liquids and other contaminants from the road penetrate into the valve and settle on its walls. When inflating tyres, such matter is pushed deeper into the valve, causing the valve to clog and lose pressure. This may cause a rapid drop in tyre pressure.
Caps prevent contamination from accumulating inside the valve
Caps are the simplest and the best solution to this problem. They prevent dust and soil from getting in, eliminating the risk of system contamination.
Did you lose the cap and fear the consequences? There is a simple solution
If your car was driven without valve caps and you’re concerned that the compressor will force dirt into the hole, you’ll have to let out some air before turning on the compressor. To do this, push on the valve slightly with a hard object until you hear a hiss of air. Repeat several times be sure. This method is helpful, but it does not guarantee success. It mostly depends on how much dirt has accumulated.
Regular replacement of valves is a big step towards safe driving
Regular checking tyre pressure is very important. In doing so, you ensure safety and lower operating costs. Inadequate tyre pressure can be dangerous.
Valves replaced on a regular basis at the seasonal tyre change minimise the risk of pressure loss. It doesn’t cost much, but the benefits are priceless. However, don’t forget about common sense and regular checks. Even frequently replaced valves may be damaged due to heavy loads.
By having your tyres replaced at professional tyre shops, you can be sure of proper installation and quality of service. Don’t overlook that – always use the services of reputable shops.