Ford F-150/F-250: How To Replace A Valve Stem

The valve stem is one most common places to get an air leak. A broken valve is also one of the least expensive fixes your F-150 or F-250 will ever endure. Keep reading to learn how to replace a busted valve stem yourself.

By Scott Deuty - September 16, 2014

This article applies to the Ford F-150 (2004-2014) and the F-250, F-350 Super Duty (2005-2014).

Before you begin this procedure understand a few things. In order to access the valve stem you will have to get inside the tire to the inner rim. This requires the tire to be separated from the rim by breaking the bead. All of the air must be out of the tire in order to break the bead. Any pressure difference will keep the tire pressed against the rim making it impossible to separate. With a little luck you can access the valve stem by only breaking one of the two beads. You may have to remove the tire from the rim completely.

Also realize that beading the tire back up requires air pressure, which also means it can potentially go wrong. The tire can slip off the rim and pinch your finger between the rim and the tire. As a finally thought, realize that beading up the rim is not always easy. You are trying to seat the entire circumference of the tire by injecting air into one single valve stem opening. Tire shops have devices that inject air around the circumference. If you can’t seat the tire with success, take it to a professional shop for this final step.

(Related: How to Find a Tire Leak - Ford-Trucks.com)

Materials Needed

  • Safety glasses and gloves
  • Jack
  • Lug wrench
  • Crow bar
  • Valve stem insert remover
  • Valve stem puller
  • Pliers
  • Soap or tire grease

Step 1 - Remove tire from vehicle

Loosen the lug nuts with the lug wrench that came with the truck or the equivalent sized socket on a breaker bar or ratchet. Raise the vehicle with a jack and support the vehicle on a jack stand. After the wheels are free, finish remove the lug nuts and then the wheel.

Figure 1. Loosen the lug nuts on the truck before lifting the tires off the ground

Step 2 - Remove the valve stem insert

Now that the tire is off the wheel, you're going to have to let the air out of it. You can unscrew the inner core of the valve stem with 4-Way Tire Valve tool. Or, you could you use a clamp on the tire valve to let the air out.

Figure 2. Valve stem core removed with 4-Way tire valve tool

Step 3 - Separating the tire from the rim

Use a pry bar to separate the tire from the rim. Screw drivers are NOT recommended as the tip can break off. Wear safety glasses to avoid flying pieces of the tire, rim, or pry bar. For stingy rims you may need some dish soap and a tire hammer.

Figure 3. Use pry bars to break the bead between tire and rim

Step 4 - Replace the valve stem

Pull the old valve stem out and put the new valve stem in. You may want to add a sealer or tire grease to ensure a good seal. Just remember that whatever you put on the tire now may make it seal to a point when you have to remove it in the future. Use a sealer that seals, prohibits rust, yet doesn’t act as an adhesive. Tire grease makes surfaces slippery. This can increase the chance of blowing the tire off the bead. Take this into consideration when considering your safety.

Step 5 - Fill the tire with air

Place the tire flat on the floor under the vehicle away from you. Use a clamp on air fitting. Charge the air hose by plugging it in or using a control valve. Don’t overfill the tire. Monitor and regulate the pressure as you go. Let the tire sit for a while to ensure it is well seated.

Figure 4. Inflate the tire on it's side while it is under the vehicle for safety

Step 6 - Check for proper seating

Squirt water on the tire as it is laying on the ground and look for bubbles exiting between the rim and tire. If you see any bubbles, reseat the tire by letting the air out, clearing any obstructions, and reinflating it.
Flip the tire its other side and squirt water on it to check the other seal for leaks.

Figure 5. Use water to look for bubbles. Bubbling around the rim is indicative that the rim and tire did not seat properly

Step 7 - Replace the tire on the vehicle

Use the pry bar under the tire to aid in aligning the lug studs with the rim. Tighten the tire snugly using a star pattern by moving to opposite studs. Lower the vehicle until the weight rests on the tire. Torque the lug nuts to the specified foot-pound rating using a star pattern and retorque after 100 miles (especially if a new rim is used).

Pro Tips

Always wear safety glasses when working around anything that has air pressure present. Valve stem inserts are backed by air pressure of up to 80 lbs. They can become flying projectiles when unscrewed.

Place the tire under the vehicle when airing it up. If the tire does not seat properly, this will limit the area for pieces to fly.

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