valve stem on a wheel

Valve Stem

So, what is a valve stem and why is it so important? A valve stem is a basic feature of your wheel/rim and plays a critical role in tire and wheel safety. It is necessary to keep your tires inflated and allow you to add or remove air as needed.

How Does a Valve Stem Work?

A valve stem is made up of a body, core and a cap. The valve core is the inner sealing portion of the valve stem that prevents air loss. The valve core should be tightened into the valve body for a proper seal.

While the valve cap helps prevent air loss with a rubber seal inside the cap, it’s main function is to keep dirt and debris from getting into the stem and contaminating or corroding the valve core. If moisture gets inside the valve stem and freezes, it can cause air loss and/or a flat tire.

Valve stem diagram

The rubber components of a valve stem can dry out and crack over time, causing air leaks or total air loss. We recommend replacing your valve stem at least every time you replace your tires.

Types of Valve Stems

There a number of different types of valve stems and each has a unique purpose. We have put together a list of some of the more popular valve stems here. Although we don't have every style or type of valve stem listed, it is very important to use the right valve stem to match your wheel/rim as well as to support your tire/vehicle requirements.

Standard Rubber Valve Stem

Rubber Valve Stem

These valve stems can be
operated at air pressures of 65psi
or below and are typically
used on most passenger vehicles.

Chrome-Sleeve Rubber Valve Stem

Chrome-Sleeve Rubber Valve Stem

These valve stems can also be
operated at air pressures of 65psi
or below and are very similar
to a standard rubber valve stem,
but they have a chrome sleeve
over the valve portion for
enhanced appearance, as well as a
chrome valve cap.

High-Pressure Valve Stem

High-Pressure Valve Stem

These valve stems are used
on light trucks and trailers when
the air pressure requirements
exceed 65psi.

High-Performance Metal Valve Stem

High-Performance Metal Valve Stem

These valve stems are recommended
for high-performance purposes.
Because a rubber grommet is used to
seal the metal performance valve
to the wheel, they will still
require replacement over time.

They are attached to the wheel
with a nut and rubber grommet.
The nut can loosen over time
and must be tightened periodically
to prevent air loss.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Most vehicles after the year 2007 come equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS), which monitor your tire air pressure. While most TPMS sensors also use valve stems to add/remove air, the valve stem portion of the TPMS sensor is different from a standard valve stem.

TPMS diagram 1
TPMS diagram 2

Learn more about TPMS Sensors and Rebuild Kits

If you have any questions or require any assistance with valve stems, stop by any of our Discount Tire locations and we'll get you taken care of!

Find a store near you

For more information on this and other tire and wheel services, check out our YouTube Channel or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.