Owners of Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler vehicles say TPMS valve stems corrode and break.

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Owners of Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler vehicles say TPMS valve stems corrode and break.

— A Chrysler TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) valve stem lawsuit alleges the stems used with the monitoring systems are prone to fail because of corrosion destroying the metal valve stems, causing them to break without warning.

The valve stem class-action lawsuit includes the 2010 Jeep Liberty, 2010 Dodge Journey, 2010 Chrysler Town & Country and other Chrysler vehicles that use the same TPMS metal alloy stems.

A TPMS is an electronic system designed to monitor the air pressure inside the tires and report real-time tire pressure information to the driver by using pressure sensors in the wheels that transmit information to the vehicle’s instrument cluster.

Manufacturers were forced to make the monitoring systems standard in vehicles after a recall of Firestone tires in the 1990s where more than 100 fatalities occurred from rollover incidents caused by tire tread separation. Congress stepped in and mandated TPMS systems to help drivers know when their tires were underinflated and all new passenger vehicles since 2008 are equipped with the technology.

The valve stem is especially exposed to road salt and other elements that can cause metal to corrode because the valve stem sticks out from a tire.

Owners of Chrysler minivans have told CarComplaints.com about what corrosion does to the valve stems and the high cost to replace the stems and sensors.

"Corroded nut on left front wheel valve stem allowed the stem to drop into the tire resulting in sudden loss of air pressure in tire. There was no warning prior to very sudden flat tire." - 2010 Chrysler Town & Country owner / Penobscot, Maine

"My vehicle was parked in the garage. I was inside and I heard a sound that sounded like a gunshot. I immediately went into the garage and noticed that the drivers side rear tire was flat. I looked at the wheel rim and found the valve stem on the wheel sensor had blown off. Looking further I found the stem with the valve cover attached was on the garage floor. I believe the break most likely could have been caused by metal fatigue. The stem seems to be made out of aluminum. I had to replace the TPMS sensor at a cost of $169.65." - 2010 Chrysler Town & Country owner / Delray Beach, Florida

The plaintiffs claim Chrysler fitted the vehicles with TPMS valve stems that contain defects that cause the stems to corrode because of the metal alloy used for the stems. Chrysler allegedly knew about the valve stem risks because the automaker finally stopped using those metal alloy stems and switched to rubberized stems.

No recalls were ordered even after owners continued to complain about valve stem failures and the cost to fix those failures. The plaintiffs say driving with those TPMS valve stems is dangerous because the stems can fail at any time without warning, possibly sending vehicles out of control because the tires quickly lose all their air.

Popular models including the Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, Jeep Liberty and Dodge Journeys have allegedly suffered so many valve stem failures that replacement parts have often been on backorder.

The TPMS lawsuit claims Chrysler knew about the valve stem problems from all the customer complaints, dealer reports and an official investigation into alleged valve stem problems conducted by Canadian safety regulators. However, the automaker allegedly concealed the existence of the defects in the TPMS systems.

In addition, the plaintiffs claim Chrysler doesn't offer to reimburse owners for out-of-pocket costs associated with replacing the valve stems. Because the valve stems are part of the computerized tire pressure monitoring systems, replacing four stems can easily cost $200.

One plaintiff says he paid out-of-pocket to replace two defective TPMS valve stems after separate incidents on his Dodge Journey when the TPMS light flashed on his dashboard immediately before a nearly instantaneous loss of tire pressure. The plaintiff says he located the valve stems from the affected tires and found they nearly crumbled in his hands because they were so brittle from corrosion.

The Chrysler TPMS valve stem lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York - Steven Spratley, Timothy Canfield, Andrew Cattano, James Lett, Dennis Peck, Susan Stebbins, and Yvette Taylor, et al, vs. FCA US LLC, f/k/a Chrysler Group LLC.

The plaintiffs are represented by Kantrowitz Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C., Migliaccio & Rathod LLP, Law Offices Of Elmer Robert Keach III, P.C., Whitfield Bryson & Mason LLP, and Parker Waichman LLP.

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