You surely know how important your vehicle's tires are for the performance of your drive. And when you think about their maintenance, probably the first thing that comes to your mind is maintaining their pressure and taking care of their tread pattern. You're right, actually. But only partially. The tire pressure and tread pattern are indeed really essential elements. However, you left out a small detail: the tire valve stem.
For some reason, many car enthusiasts and owners do not give much importance to this small element. Why should they do it? The valve is nothing more than a plastic component that does not really have much value or role in the construction of the tire. However, if you think that way, know that you are very wrong. This piece of plastic, as you call it, has actually a much higher value than you can imagine.
Even if it is small and almost unnoticeable, it is the "protective wall" of the tire pressure. You know that tire pressure is critical, right? And you also know what happens if the pressure suddenly drops from it, right? Well, thanks to this "insignificant" valve the pressure is kept within the normal limits so that you can benefit from a smooth and riskless ride.
There are no tires that do not have a valve. You will find the name "Shrader valve" in different sources, which is, in fact, the same thing. The purpose of the valves is to be a shield against pressure leakage from the tire. These keep the inflation level within normal limits unless there is valve damage.
The Schrader valve comes with a valve cap. This valve cap is the absolute component that makes the Schrader valve leak-proof. Many times, drivers lose this valve cap. In such cases, the Schrader valve becomes sensitive to all external agents on the road such as pebbles, dust, water, and dirt. If these external agents affect the valve without its cap, the tire is prone to air decompression through the unprotected opening of the valve.
Riding without the tire valve cap?!
It is not the best idea to ride with an incomplete tire valve. Once the Schrader valve is not protected by its cap, the gradual air leakage leads to major tire damage.
In other words, air leakage is equivalent to reducing tire pressure, which means riding with a flat tire. If one of your car's tires has low pressure, it develops uneven wear compared to the others. Even if you adjust the pressure, uneven wear between the 4 wheels will impact the overall driving experience and vehicle performance.
A negative effect related to tire wear is that it will deteriorate much earlier than the term stipulated by the manufacturer. Moreover, a tire with lower pressure than the norm is prone to severely affect the rim on which it is mounted. At the same time, the vehicle will consume much more fuel, as the vehicle will require additional effort to maintain optimal traction of the vehicle.
A very bad scenario is the probability of a tire blowout. That's right: blowouts are possible not only when the tire is over-inflated, but also when it is under-inflated as well.
So as you can see, a compromised valve in a tire can lead to a sequence of negative, expensive, and dangerous consequences for your health and life. Do you still think that the role of the tire valve is insignificant?
How is it possible for a tire to end up without a valve stem cap?
Drivers can find themselves without valve caps very easily and very frequently. These being tiny components, it is very easy to forget them somewhere when you check the tire pressure.
Even if the driver is cautious and takes care not to forget them, valve caps are prone to wear out while driving the car. Sometimes, valve caps can become loose and fall somewhere on the road while driving. In the same context, drivers can lose their valves when they often go on bad roads full of bumps and potholes. At the same time, the technician himself may forget to put them back when he checks your tires.
As you can see, there are dozens of scenarios in which you can find yourself without a valve cap. The solution is very simple: make sure the cap is in place before each ride. Considering its proportions are much too small in relation to the whole vehicle, it is very possible to overlook them. And once these are missing, the damage goes directly to the Schrader valve, which impacts the tire to a much bigger extent.
How can you prevent damage caused by valve cap loss?
As you already know, there are dozens of scenarios in which your tire can run out of valve caps. And it would be good to protect yourself somehow to prevent potential risks and damage to your tires. How can you do it?
A good prevention method is to keep a couple of new valve caps in your glove box. They are very accessible for any driver. They differ in material and size. However, everyone can afford them. The price for a pair of valve caps is insignificant in relation to the price you can pay for the damage caused by their lack. For this reason, I urge you not to hesitate and get a spare pair.
In this sort of idea, take a look at the tire valves every time you inspect their tread and pressure. Draw special attention whenever you drive on a road with water, snow, mud, or potholes. These directly impact the way the caps attach to the valves. And every time you leave the car service, make sure that the technician has put them in place. He may be an expert in the field, but the caps are so tiny that it is absolutely human to overlook them. Last but not least, make sure they are present every time you go on a long trip. Better safe than sorry, right?