The wrong amount of air pressure in your car’s tires can take years off of your vehicle’s life (and hundreds of dollars from your pocket). Under- or over-inflated tires are a key culprit in tire blowouts, and many of us don’t realize there’s a sweet spot for tire air pressure to give the best traction, the least wear and the longest tire life.
Dangers of Over-inflated Tires
Tires that are over-inflated are harder (stiffer and more rigid), so they don’t connect with the road properly. When the amount of rubber connecting with the road is reduced, the tires will wear unevenly, usually in the middle.
If a pothole or bump in the road has you feeling like you’re riding the rapids, you may be driving on over-inflated tires.
Cost Savings: Over-inflated tires wear down faster, meaning you may be replacing them sooner than you’d like. Save money by finding the right amount of pressure for your tires and letting a little air out.
Dangers of Under-Inflated Tires
Tires that are under-inflated are softer (they don’t hold their shape), so more of the tire connects with the pavement. The extra connection between your tire and the road isn’t a good thing, as the increased flexibility in under-inflated tires can lead to increased rolling resistance. This means you’ll be using more fuel as your tires fight to get traction on the road, and you’ll be making more trips to the gas station to fill up.
Under-inflated tires also negatively impact the strength of the tire. Air is what allows a tire to carry its load (you and everything else in the vehicle). When there’s less air in the tire, it won’t have the strength to carry the same volume of weight. This can result in blowouts, as tires overheat under the strain.
Cost Savings: Tire blowouts are a serious concern for under-inflated tires. Stay safe and save money (tire replacements can get costly) by adding some air to your tires.
The correct tire pressure can be found in the owner’s manual of your car, on the decal on your driver side door jamb, or on the glove compartment door. You can also check the side wall of your tires, but keep in mind this number will be the maximum recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) and not necessarily the best amount of air for your vehicle.
When to Check Your Tire Pressure
Check your tire pressure monthly, as it can be impacted by the temperature. Your tire can lose four pounds of air pressure when the temperature drops below 0, and tire pressure also increases in the warmer summer months. Regular check-ups will help you stay on top of these fluctuations.
It’s best to check your tire’s pressure when it’s cold — and we don’t mean cold outside. To get an accurate cold-tire reading, check tire pressure first thing in the morning or when your car has been sitting for a few hours in a shady spot. Your tire’s pressure will be higher when the tire is warm from driving, increasing the potential of a false reading.
And yes, even if your vehicle comes equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, you’ll still need to manually check your tire pressure. Especially if your system only tells you that your pressure is low (opposed to systems that tell you the exact tire pressure).