Fiat-Chrysler made a mistake by using aluminum valve stems in some of their early tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), like the one found in the 2010 Town and Country. The aluminum stem and metal cap are highly susceptible to corrosion from salt and other contaminates.
The corrosion can wreak havoc in a number of ways.
- The metallic valve caps can seize on the stem, and any attempts to remove them can break the stem and destroy the attached sensor.
- The corrosion can trigger a TPMS warning light as the stem and sensor combo are no longer able to accurately read the pressure.
- Excessively corroded stems can crack and quickly release all the air from the tire. Yes, even while driving. That’s … not ideal.
FCA quickly switched to a rubberized stem and cap in future model years. But they never acknowledged their design mistake, leaving thousands of owners responsible for repairing and replacing the aluminum valve stems.
Chrysler TPMS Valve Stem Lawsuit
FCA was sued for concealing the valve stem defect in April of 2017. The lawsuit said it’s impossible to believe that FCA didn’t know about the defect given rising consumer complaints, dealer reports, and an official investigation by Canadian safety regulators. And oh yeah, one other thing…
The lawsuit alleges the automaker knew about the dangers of the metal valve stems because Chrysler finally switched to rubberized valve stems that won’t corrode, yet no recall was ordered and Chrysler didn’t offer to reimburse customers.
The lawsuit covered owners of the 2010 Chrysler Town & Country, as well as other vehicles like the Dodge Journey and Jeep Liberty.
An expensive repair
There are two major issues when it comes to repairing corroded valve stems.
First, it’s ridiculously expensive. The stem is just the tip of the TPMS iceberg. Inside, the stem is connected to a sensor which monitors tire pressure. If you need a new stem, you need a whole new unit and that’ll cost you $125 or more per tire.
Second, given the high fail rate of these stems, there is often a national backorder for replacement parts.
Lawsuit partially dismissed
The lawsuit was moved to a Delaware court in March of 2018 after a judge in NY noted that most of the plaintiffs didn’t buy their vehicle in state. FCA took the opportunity to ask for a motion to dismiss the case.
Their motion was partially granted in January 2019.