When filling your car tires with air, the valve stem is where you attach the hose. A bunch of the stems are bad and that is bad news for consumers.
Tami Henris came into Jay and Bill's Tire Service in Petaluma to have her valve stems checked for safety. Bill has been contacting his customers, asking them to come in for a free inspection. All of Tami's stems are fine, but as many as 30 million stems manufactured in China are putting American consumers at risk.
"So we are finding out that valve stems that usually last the life of the tire or longer, are only lasting six months to a year, so they need to be replaced and they need to be checked," says Bill Rider, from Jay and Bill's Tire Service.
At Jay and Bill's they have replaced more than 130 tire valve stems this month alone. The problem is with the stems. Some can be pulled apart or have cracks, that means air can escape leaving a tire flat and it can happen when the car is driving at highway speeds.
"They didn't put the UV protection in the valve stems so the sunlight is making them deteriorate way too fast," says Bill.
That's what happened to Mike Gerke's tire valve stems.
"Bill looked at them and ended up changing them. Otherwise I could have got a flat in the field and I would be dead in the water and I wouldn't get any work done that day," says Gerke from Mike's Glass.
The tire valve stems were manufactured for a company called Dill. No markings can be seen on the outside of the stem and tire, that is why the inspection for cracks is being called for.
The stems were manufactured between August and November 2006 and most probably installed between September 2006 and June of 2007.
An inspection doesn't take long.
"If it weren't for Bill calling my husband and telling him to have his tries checked, we wouldn't have known," said Tami.
"It didn't take long to get that done, did it?" asked ABC7's Michael Finney.
"No. Not at all, two minutes," said Tami.
So if you have bought tires within the past two years talk with your retailer or inspect the stems yourself. If your stems are damaged, they will be replaced free by the retailer where you bought the tires. One final note, one highway death has been attributed to bad valve stems.