Will a tire lose air if the valve cap is missing?

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The short answer to the question is, not immediately. Also, it won’t directly be because the valve cap is missing.

This cap is actually called a tire valve stem cap. These caps aren’t there to prevent air from leaking. They’re there to prevent dirt and moisture buildup inside of the valve stem. The valve stem is that little nip that you press down to let air out your tires. Debris/moisture buildup could potentially jam or contaminate the sealing surfaces and eventually cause a leak.

You don't want to be fixing a corroded valve stem like this guy.
Fun times fixing a corroded valve stem.

If your vehicle has a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), it is even more important that you have a valve stem cap sealed tightly on each of your tires. When the time comes to replace your tires, if the valve core has seized into the stem, you might have to replace your TPMS pressure monitor sensor.

I have a few extra ones that I keep inside of my glove compartment, just in case. You can buy a pack of 4 at your local auto parts store for a few bucks or get creative ones off of Amazon.

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INTERESTING VIDEO

INTERESTING REFERENCES
  1. Autos.com – Do valve caps really help with pressure?
  2. BlueStar.com – Tire Valve Stem Caps – Do Your Tires Need Them?
  3. TheFactLife.org – Car Facts: 102 Cool Facts About Cars

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Bolocker

I had no idea what that thing was called.

BrickhouseBlue

I bet your brain hurts, thinking of all of these. :)=