Figuring out tire pressure isn’t complicated, but it definitely rates high on importance when it comes to your general vehicle maintenance. If you’re unsure how to check tire pressure, what tire pressure is optimal for your vehicle, or how to fill your tires, read below for some good information on tire maintenance!
When tires get low
You might not think it’s a big deal, but low tires can actually negatively affect your vehicle in a number of ways. Under inflated tires suffer from a far greater tread wear in a much shorter period of time than a well maintained tire. This can lead to unnecessary frequent replacements. Low tire pressure affects braking ability – and even more so if roads aren’t ideal. Studies show that a vehicle takes a lot longer to stop when tire pressure is low, often leading to accidents that could easily have been prevented. Gas mileage is also affected by tire pressure so keeping your tires at the recommended pressure can keep dollars in your pocket!
How often to check tire pressure
When temperatures fluctuate, tire pressure can be greatly affected. It’s best to check tire pressure at least once a month especially throughout the winter, but your best bet is to check them every time you gas up, or even during a quick walk around before you even get into the vehicle. You can check a few different ways; every day it’s a good idea to just eyeball your tires; it’s typically pretty obvious if you have a tire that’s low enough. The second way is with a pressure gauge – a simple tool available at any hardware store. The third way would be by a warning in your vehicle; generally vehicles are made with a built in sensor that will indicate when a tire is low. Some vehicles will even specify which one and by how much pressure! A general rule of thumb is that for every 1 degree Celsius that temperatures rise, your PSI goes up by .16. Knowing this, you can adjust tire pressure accordingly.
Reading your optimal PSI
First of all, understand that PSI is an abbreviation for “pounds per square inch”. Your vehicle will probably list the maximum PSI right on the tire itself – but take caution – this is not the recommended tire pressure for optimal performance, it’s the maximum tire pressure before you risk overinflating. The correct pressure will be listed elsewhere; usually on a sticker on the inside of the driver’s door, or in your vehicle manual, but at times in the trunk lid, in the fuel door, or even somewhere in the console. It will say “recommended PSI” as opposed to “maximum”, and refers to the cold pressure. This means the pressure while your tires are cold, so it’s best to check and inflate either in the early morning or after your vehicle has been sitting in the shade for a while.
Have your tires checked by a professional mechanic whenever you have the vehicle in for repairs. Staying on top of tire maintenance is safe, economical, and will help ensure your vehicle stays on the road for years to come!