Tire valves breaking and causing flats - is it a safety issue or maintenance problem?

EUCLID - New cars come with sensors that warn you when your tire pressure is low, but some drivers say the monitoring system is actually a hazard.

One driver showed us his corroded tire pressure valve. Mechanics says maintenance is to blame, but car owners think there's a safety issue.

Salt trucks will soon fill our highways trying to make them safer. The mixture that breaks down the snow and ice may do more damage than you think.

"The car is only 3 years old, and we only have 24,000 miles on it, and it just corroded," driver Ed Friend said pointing to the tire pressure valve on his tire.

You don't see any corrosion on the body of the car or on the wheels. It's hidden in the valve stem.

"You can see it here. It's flaking off in my hand. There look it's just fallen off just fallen off," Friend said as the valve broke apart in his hand.

A valve on another tire broke on the highway while Friend's wife was driving.

"I just heard this noise. I didn't know what it was, and the car started sliding a bit," Dianna Friend said. "There was a lot of traffic and I almost hit someone trying to get over."

When DiAnna pulled over to the side of the road, she saw a flat tire. They didn't know about the corrosion problem until a mechanic pointed it out at the tire shop.

"I feel it's a manufacturer and safety issue which Chrysler should address," Friend said.

Four other Dodge Charger drivers complained to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration .

Tire experts at Conrad's Tire Express & Total Car Care say it can happen on any car with a metal valve.

Metal is often used on cars with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System or TPMS. These systems alert you when tire pressure is low.

"A lot of times when this cap is not coming off on a frequent basis that's when the corrosion builds up, and when someone tries to remove the cap after being on for a long period of time it breaks," Conrad's Regional Manager Sam Jakabcic said.

Conrad's said this problem is not an issue with the product. It's a maintenance issue.

"Customers need to be looking at their air pressure at least on a monthly basis and when you are taking off the cap and cleaning your car on a consistent basis you are not going to have those issues occur," Jakabcic explained.

Friend said he takes care of his car, and is afraid the problem will re-occur. That's why he refused the Dodge dealer's offer of two replacement valves.

"For peace of mind and safety we are going to have to change all these valves to rubber valves. That way she can go out and be safe," Friend said.

Chrysler said sensors can be damaged or broken by customers or repair facilities during a routine tire rotation or due to improper tire maintenance. In some cases, the valve may be covered under warranty.

Before you hit the road, don't forget to check your tires. It will help you detect problems before they become a problem. Proper tire pressure also makes your tire last longer and improves your gas mileage.

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