Like any tires, the rubber on your yard equipment needs air. If you’re consistently seeing low tire pressures, the problem might just be a bad valve stem. Here we’ll lay out the process of valve stem replacement to help you avoid buying an entirely new tire needlessly.
Check for Punctures
The great thing about tires is that they really don’t have much in the way of hidden parts. It’s easy to eyeball them and see if you’ve got a puncture, especially with this tire care tip: Take some soapy water and apply it all over the tire with a cloth or old paintbrush. Any punctures on the sidewalls or treads of the tire will reveal themselves when they begin to blow bubbles.
If the air’s not coming out through a hole in the tread or sidewall, then you’re almost certainly dealing with a leaky valve stem.
To perform a valve stem replacement, you’ll need a jack to raise the tire off the ground, a couple of jack stands to keep the machine from falling on you, a couple of wheel chocks to keep the wheels that are still on the ground in place, at least one flathead screwdriver, a crowbar, a pair of pliers, a tire pump or air compressor, and the new valve stem itself.
Replace the Valve Stem
Once your work area and tools are all set, follow these simple steps to replace your valve stem:
- The absolute first step is to disconnect the spark plug wire from the spark plug. This is a must. Having the machine accidentally start while you’re working on it is a recipe for severe injury or worse. Before anything happens, that wire has to come off.
- Jack up the end of the machine with the leaking valve stem, and then put jack stands in place to hold it securely. You want a height that allows you to freely move your hands around the wheel without a problem. Next, get the wheel chocks snug up against the wheels that are still on the ground to prevent them from rolling while you work. Otherwise, the jack stands could go sideways, and the whole thing could come crashing down on your hands.
- Depending on the type, brand and model of your lawn equipment, the next step varies. You’ll be taking off any lug nuts or other items securing the wheel to the axle, and that might mean removing a decorative wheel cover, trim ring or both. Consult your owner’s manual for the specifics of what this will entail.
- Take the tire off and lay it on the ground with the valve stem facing up. Remove the valve stem cap if there is one, and use the flathead screwdriver to press down on the pin in the center of the stem. This will let the air out of the tire.
- Use a crowbar to break the bead and carefully pull the tire off the wheel rim.
- Take the pliers, pull out the old valve stem, and then put the new one in and gently pull it into place.
- Put the tire back on the rim and re-inflate it with either a pump or an air compressor. Consult your owner’s manual for proper inflation specifications.
Finally, you simply have to reinstall the wheel. Put the wheel back on the axle, tighten the lug nuts, and replace any wheel cover or trim rings. Jack the machine up to a height where you can pull the jack stands out, and then slowly lower the machine back down to the ground. Remove the wheel chocks, re-connect the spark plug wire, and you’re ready to ride.
With this done, not only will you have saved yourself some money, but you’ll also have helped to preserve the environment by not wasting a perfectly functional tire.
Check out all the tires, wheels and accessories available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on valve stem replacement, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Mike Hagerty is an automotive journalist whose work has been featured on radio, TV, in print and online since 1997. He's the Publisher and Editor of MikeHagertyCars.com, and contributes car reviews to the Los Altos Town Crier and losaltosonline.com. Previous outlets have included KFBK and KFBK.com in Sacramento, California, the ABC television affiliates and Hearst-Argyle and Emmis radio stations in Phoenix, Arizona; AAA magazines for Arizona, Oklahoma, Northwest Ohio, South Dakota and the Mountain West and BBCCars.com.