The Dodge Nitro has a very useful Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) built in to it which reports the current air pressure in each wheel on a digital display in the dashboard.
However, the valve stems used on the tyre sensors are somewhat prone to corrosion to say the least. They’re made out of aluminium and it would appear to be a rather poor grade of aluminm too.
Water gets trapped in the dust cap and starts to eat away at the valve stem.
Here’s an example of just how bad they can corrode. Click on any photo to enlarge it.
The corrosion problem doesn’t seem to be specific to the UK weather and our excessively salty roads either, there are people across the world suffering the same problem.
There are a couple of options available if your tyre valve has corroded so much that you can’t even get air in it.
As you may be able to see from that photo, the entire top section of the valve has gone. There is little to no thread left on which to attach an air line.
I’m not sure at what point this entire valve would fail but I wouldn’t want it happening at 70mph on the motorway that’s for sure.
One of the options is to head over to one of the few remaining Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep main dealers here in the UK and have them replace the entire TPMS wheel sensor. It’s a great option, but an incredibly expensive one. To have the sensors on all four wheels replaced by Dodge will set you back around £620 including fitting.
The other option is a valve repair kit from eBay and a helpful tyre garage.
A repair kit will cost you around £50. This will get you four replacement valve stems, valves, seals, dust caps and suitable collared nuts.
I must mention Joe at The Tyre Sensor Shop at this point (they’re based in Leicestershire), his knowledge and advice is fantastic. Along with his prices. There are a few different types of valve and sensor assembly fitted to various Nitros so be sure to order the right one for your specific combination.
Armed with this kit all you need to do is head to a local friendly tyre shop and ask them if they’ll be willing to:
- Take the wheel off your car
- Remove the tyre
- Remove the sensor
- Take the valve stem assembly apart
- Fit the new kit
- Refit the sensor to the wheel
- Refit the tyre
- Rebalance the wheel
- Refit the wheel to the car
I went to one local place who refused, they said it wasn’t possible. I then went to Kwik Fit (a huge national tyre shop) and they refused too.
It’s actually a very straight forward job but probably not very profitable for the garages.
Third time lucky, this time with ATS of all places (another big national tyre firm here in the UK) and they were more than willing to have a go.
The bloke at ATS said he couldn’t guarantee the repair which was fair enough. He also said he’s never done one before (neither had any of his colleagues). Once we got all that out of the way he asked if I’d still be willing to take the risk.
Looking at a bill of £620, I said yes, I’ll happily accept whatever may go wrong.
I asked the bloke to start on the back wheels as although all four valves were corroded, the rear two were so bad I couldn’t even get air in them so I had nothing to lose.
The bloke took the wheel and tyre off, got the sensor out ok then spent a little while working out how to take it all apart and how to put it all back together again. The first wheel probably took around 25mins from start to finish. But it was a success! The valve repair kit fitted/worked perfectly and the tyre was pumped up, rebalanced and not leaking air!
The next two wheels only took 15mins each too.
The last wheel however…
Blimey what a nightmare!!!
The outer collet had ceased completely on the old valve stem. He couldn’t undo the nut at all. The problem was that if he kept trying it any one of a number of things could of happened. He could have applied brute force and either the valve stem would have sheered (which would have actually been a good thing), or the square base of the valve stem could have twisted inward and pierced the sensor, damaging it beyond repair. The third option (albeit remote) was that the alloy wheel itself could have been damaged, which would have then needed welding and all sorts of other complications.
He asked me what I wanted him to do…
I took a deep breath and said go for it, twist it until something breaks.
But at the eleventh hour (well, about an hour and a half anyway) he had an idea. He got a bloody great big hammer and a chisel and he started chiselling the top of the valve stem. He was essentially splitting it in half – long ways down 😯
Thankfully the alloy used to make the valves is that rubbish that this was actually working. The chisel was cutting down the full length of the valve stem.
After much banging, chipping, swearing and shouting it eventually snapped and the sensor fell out.
A few minutes cleaning everything up, rebuild the valve stem in to the sensor, refit, job done. Also worth mentioning, every part of the new valve stem assembly was covered in water proof grease as it was reassembled to help prevent future corrosion.
ATS charged me just £40 quid for fitting all four valve stems.
Even though it took him 1hr 45mins from start to finish.
So the total cost to have four very corroded valve stems replaced was less than £100 quid all in.