Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Replacing a Tire's Valve Stem

This is another of the "How To's" to help you save money and learn how to be more self-sufficient. If you have been reading my blog for the past couple years then you know that I am an organic gardener and that I use the material from my property to produce compost and also to put my garden to bed each fall.  So Saturday, three days ago, I was planning to cut my grass and at the same time vacuum up the fallen leaves and pine needles with my DR Lawn Vac system. When I hooked up and pulled it out of my equipment shed I noticed that the tires were flat. So I towed it to my garage to pump up the tires. I filled one tire and went around to fill the other. By the time I returned to the first tire it was flat already. I refilled the tire and put my ear close and heard air hissing out the valve stem. 

So I pulled the tire off and pushed the valve stem with my finger and it snapped off. Apparently it had dry-rotted. What to do what to do? My first inclination was to take both tires over to Walmart and have them fix it. Taking a look on-line I found I could expect to pay $5.00 to $10.00 per tire on the low side and up to $20.00 per tire on the high side. Wow, too much for me. So I thought I would give it a try myself.

I drove over to the local AutoZone and not surprisingly found that there are several sizes of valve stems. Luckily I brought the broken off section and could match it up with the right size. This pair only cost $2.99 and the instructions are right on the back.

The first thing to do then is to deflate the tire if it isn't already, not an issue here since the valve stem broke off. Then you have to break the bead. The bead is what seals the tubeless tire onto the rim. I used a pry bar turned at an angle and then my weight (200 lbs) to break the bead seal. Once any section comes loose, the whole thing sort of peels off the rim. It took me some time to get the broken-off inner part of the stem out of the tire.

Once the old stem is out you can place the new stem in the hole from the inside of the rim. 

I lubricated the stem with a little saliva and with one hand I pushed from the rear and with the other I pulled and wiggled it back and worth until the flanged seal popped through. It was not too hard at all. I made sure the valve was seated evenly and fully sealed all around the base of the stem and then inflated the tire. Everything sealed up properly.

Once it was done I remounted it on the Lawn Vac and then did the other side, which wasn't leaking but why not do both at once? 

This was a simple enough job that saved me somewhere between $10 and $40 had I taken it to a garage. It took me no more than an hour to complete, not too bad for a first time.

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