If you’ve ever wondered what the small black valve caps on your tires are for, then you are not alone. Many drivers have asked about that. Most people aren’t even aware of whether they still have valve caps on all of their tires and if your car is more than a few years old, then you may not have. Valve caps do serve an important purpose however.
Each time you go to put air in your tires, you must unscrew your valve caps first in order to attach the air hose to your valve stem. After adding air to the tire, you then screw the valve cap back on. This is how they become lost. Sometimes drivers will throw them down on the pavement and then not be able to find them quickly enough, so they simply get back in the car and drive off without them. One good way to prevent losing your valve caps is to stick them in your pocket while you air up the tire.
The Purpose for Valve Caps
Valve caps prevent dust, oil, and road debris from getting inside your valve stem. They are the final mode of protection against air loss. Studies have shown that you can increase your gas mileage by 5% just by keeping the correct air pressure in your tires. This is one of the little things that can make a big difference. Imagine being able to drive an additional 20 to 30 miles on one tank of gas simply by keeping the right air pressure in your tires.
Without your valve caps, your tires stand a much greater chance of losing air. This can happen while you’re driving or while the car is sitting still. Tires lose air pressure from all sorts of things and some air is lost each month from regular use. Driving with the wrong air pressure makes your car harder to handle and it causes the tires to wear out faster.
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Some environmentalists are now saying that disposing of old tires is very hard on the earth’s ecology and that if drivers would make more of an effort to maintain tires properly, we could increase tire tread life from 10% to 50%. Making tires last longer means that fewer tires will go into the landfills. With almost 300 million cars registered in the U.S. alone that’s a whole lot of tires!