How to Check Your Tire Pressure, And Why It's So Important for Safety
It’s a fact that can’t be denied. The only points of contact between your vehicle and the road surface are those four little patches of rubber where your tires touch the ground. When you need to stop, turn, or accelerate, the air pressure in your tires is a key factor in how secure and responsive those contact patches are. Let’s look at how tire pressure affects your vehicle’s ability keep you safe, during every moment that you are behind the wheel.
It May Just Be Air, But You’ll Have Big Problems Without Enough of It
The compressed air in your tires performs several key functions within those tires. The correct tire pressure presses the tires onto the wheels, removes the heat generated by your tires’ friction as you drive down the road, minimizes rolling resistance for better fuel economy. and absorbs impacts from potholes and bumps before the suspension reacts to them.
Tire pressures that are low can produce many problems, including:
· Poor fuel economy
· Tire blowouts from excessive heat buildup
· Wheel damage from potholes
· Premature damage and wear to suspension components
· Unevenly worn tires that need replacement sooner
Tire Pressures Are Affected by Temperature
Back in science class, we were taught that pressure is a function of temperature. This is a law of physics that also applies to your tires. As temperatures increase, so does pressure. This is why you should always check your tires when they are cold. Once you have driven on them, they get warm, and their pressures rise. This is normal, and is why you don’t check them while they are warm. If you do, they will seem to be overinflated, but they are not. Because of this, you should not release any air from properly inflated tires when they have warmed up.
Similarly, warmer weather will also affect the pressure in your tires. As winter turns to spring and outside temperatures rise, your tire pressures will increase a bit. This trend will increase until the height of summer, and then will reverse as it gets cooler outside. To be safe, check your tires regularly when they are cold, and adjust the pressures up or down as needed.
How to Check Your Tire Pressure
Remember to check your tire pressures at least once a month, and always before a long trip. Check your pressures when the tires are cool, before you drive the car. You can find the correct pressures for your vehicle in the owner’s manual, or on a label attached to the driver’s door or the fuel filler door.
Do not trust the readings given by that worn out tire gauge attached to the gas station’s air hose. We recommend that you purchase a high-quality tire gauge for accurate readings. For even more convenience, you can get yourself an inexpensive tire inflator/air compressor that plugs into your vehicle’s lighter socket. Keep it, and the gauge, in the car so you’ll always have them when needed.
Here’s the process recommended by tire maker Michelin for checking your tire pressures:
1. Insert the pressure gauge into the valve stem on your tire.
2. The gauge will show a number: that's the psi number.
3. The hissing sound is air escaping the tire. It shouldn’t affect pressure substantially, unless you hold down the air pressure gauge too long.
4. Compare the measured psi to the recommended psi.
5. If the psi is above the recommended number, let air out until they match. If it's below, add air until it reaches the proper number.
Have Any Questions About Car Safety or Tire Maintenance? Ask Us!
If you have any tire maintenance and car maintenance issues, Moffatt's Mazda in Barrie is here for you. Our expert technicians will give you exceptional service for all your tire-related needs. Contact us today and let us solve all your tire and car care problems.