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Author Topic: Need help from the automotively inclined.  (Read 648 times)

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Offline OniyaTopic starter

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Need help from the automotively inclined.
« on: May 25, 2009, 02:34:59 PM »
Today, I found out that someone went and loosened the valve stem on one of my van tires, resulting in a slow leak.  They may have also done so to the tire on our pop-up trailer, but we'd need to reinflate that one in order to find out, since it's gone completely flat.

Needless to say, I'm furious, since this could have resulted in someone (myself, my husband or our roommates) ending up with a blowout - possibly even with my daughter in the car.

I want to know if a) there's a way to 'lock' this vulnerability, like they have gas-tank locks, or b) if there's a way to catch the perp in the act.  I've considered putting some kind of substance on the valve stem that would stain the fingers, but it would have to be something that wouldn't dry up overnight.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Need help from the automotively inclined.
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2009, 02:40:35 PM »
I don't have automotive knowledge, but I do know that there are certain chemicals that come in powder form that react with the skin and turn it various shades of pink, purple, yellow, green... I don't know how readily available some of them are, or how they'd react to rubber, though. Possibly Neroon would have a better idea than I ...

Offline OniyaTopic starter

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Re: Need help from the automotively inclined.
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2009, 09:04:35 PM »
Sliver nitrate and potassium permanganate came up on a Google search, but I'm not sure if the powdered form would stain as well as solutions apparently do.

I'm also considering placing 'presents' from the kitty-box in strategic locations near the tires.  Yes, I play dirty.

I'm also researching motion-sensitive lighting - preferably solar-powered so I don't have to run wires.  The lily-livered, gutless, spineless wonder (keeping it PG13) that did this specifically chose the side of the vehicle on the side that was away from the garage's motion-sensitive lights.  I imagine getting flooded with lights would send him packing.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Need help from the automotively inclined.
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2009, 09:20:03 PM »
How are you sure it was someone who did this and not just your tires loosening? I would hate for you to go to all this trouble for nothing.

That said, you could always douse it in luminol and then place a bucket of bleach strategically nearby ... >.>

AgNO3 and KMnO4 (chemical formulae because I'm lazy) are both pretty caustic. I didn't know that AgNO3 stained the skin but KMnO4 turns everything purple. Everything. Everything.

Offline OniyaTopic starter

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Re: Need help from the automotively inclined.
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2009, 09:26:36 PM »
From what I understand - and I'm not automotively inclined, but the person who discovered it is more-so - it takes a certain tool to loosen the valve stem.  It's also the second tire that has gone soft or flat in two days, and both were on the side of the vehicles farthest from the house.  I believe the boys are going to have to take it down to AutoZone to do more than a temporary fix (in other words, there's still a slow leak, and they need to refill the tire periodically).

EDIT: At any rate, being able to prevent/deter such actions is highest on my list, with getting evidence on any vandals (either by photograph or by 'marking' them) in second place.  If I can go up to someone and say 'I saw what you did there', I'm hoping it will show that I'm not someone to victimize.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2009, 09:38:39 PM by Oniya »

Online Scott

Re: Need help from the automotively inclined.
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2009, 10:04:58 PM »
Valve stems 101


This is a typical valve stem

This is what they look like out of the wheel (complete with plastic cap)

These are called Schrader valves, they screw into the valve stem body

This is the tool used to put them in and take them out of the valve stem.


like this.

There's really no way to lock valve stems because any locking device on the valve stem (not that I've ever heard of one anyway) would add weight to the wheel and throw the tire out of balance.

If you want to get a schrader valve tool they should be like 4.00 at any auto parts store

Valve stems do leak though, around the mushroom shaped part of their body that seals to the rim, that's NOT uncommon, but it's odd for the schrader valve it's self to become loose, I've worked on cars forever and never seen it happen.   

Online Scott

Re: Need help from the automotively inclined.
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2009, 10:14:22 PM »
you can put dish washing liquid and water in a spray bottle and spray it on the valve stem to see if thats where it's leaking, if thats not it spray the whole tire and look for bubbles to see if you've picked up a nail or screw somewhere in the tire. also spray around the bead, (where the tire seals to the rim).

good luck, I wish I lived closer so I could be more help.   

Offline OniyaTopic starter

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Re: Need help from the automotively inclined.
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2009, 10:31:14 PM »
You've been very helpful, Scott.  I've used the dish-soap trick on inflatable pools, and now I know what we need to locate at the store to fix the problem - either tire sealant if it's at the bottom of the stem, or the tool if it's the valve itself.  It's apparently a slow enough leak that they could make it to Columbus today, so getting to the auto parts store won't be a problem.

Online Scott

Re: Need help from the automotively inclined.
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2009, 10:43:20 PM »
If any of that helped i'm glad. 

Offline Kip

Re: Need help from the automotively inclined.
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2009, 11:21:26 PM »
How are you sure it was someone who did this and not just your tires loosening? I would hate for you to go to all this trouble for nothing.

That said, you could always douse it in luminol and then place a bucket of bleach strategically nearby ... >.>

AgNO3 and KMnO4 (chemical formulae because I'm lazy) are both pretty caustic. I didn't know that AgNO3 stained the skin but KMnO4 turns everything purple. Everything. Everything.

AgNO3 (Silver Nitrate) does definitely stain the skin - a browny colour from my memory of junior high school chemistry pranks *grins*.  It takes ages to get rid of.