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Ontario woman shocked when cheap car part causes potentially hundreds of dollars damage


Many drivers are currently switching over their winter tires for their summer set, but some who have been using aluminum valve stem caps could find themselves with an unexpected expense.

“Can you imagine you're trying to put in air in the tire on your way home, but you can't because you can't get the cap off at the gas station?" Katie Pfisterer, of Willow Beach, in the town of Georgina, Ont., told CTV News Toronto.

Pfisterer said it was last fall when she noticed one of the valve stem caps on her tires was missing, so she went to go buy some. There was an option to buy either plastic or aluminum caps, which were both sold in a pack of four for about $4.

"The aluminum was 40 cents more than the plastic, so we thought we should splurge, so we bought those," Pfisterer said.

Back in January, two months after putting on the valve stem caps, Pfisterer got a flat tire. When the tire shop tried to repair the tire, she said they couldn’t remove the aluminum stem cap because it had become completely corroded to the valve stem.

When she noticed all her tires had the same problem, she went online and saw other cases of aluminum valve stem corrosion that required mechanics to grind off the aluminum valve stem caps with a grinder.

Pfisterer bought a grinder herself to remove the aluminum valve stem caps, but said she still has to do the same for her other tires.

Alan Gelman, a mechanic and President of GlennAlan Motors, told CTV News Toronto the problem with aluminum valve stem caps is that “in time, water and salt will go inside there and it will cause the two pieces to lock and seize up."

While the caps may only cost a few dollars, Gelman says if aluminum caps become seized, you could be forced to spend hundreds of dollars replacing the valve stems and tire-pressure monitoring system.

With Canada’s winter conditions, Gelman says it’s best to go with plastic valve stem caps.

“Stick with the plastic ones that they came with. [Drivers] have been using these for 50 years without any problems,” said Gelman.

Pfisterer bought the valve stem caps at Canadian Tire, and when CTV News Toronto reached out to the store, they agreed to pay for the grinder Pfisterer had purchased.

“As with any metal-on-metal contact parts on a vehicle, certain materials and conditions can result in bonding or corrosion over time. For best results, we recommend treating metallic valve stem threads with PTFE thread sealing tape, anti-seize or lubricant before installation to help prevent galvanic reaction,” a spokesperson for Canadian Tire said in a statement.

“We also offer valve stem caps in other materials, including non-corrosive plastic, as an alternative solution for our customers and will be introducing three new improved plastic options into our assortment later this year.”

Pfisterer said she wanted to come forward to warn other drivers so that they would know about the potential issues that aluminum valve stem caps can cause. Top Stories

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