Many drivers don’t check their tire pressures until a symbol on the dashboard illuminates. But your car’s tires require more than just cursory attention. Making sure your tires are inflated appropriately can mean the difference between a routine drive and a serious accident.
What is tire pressure?
- Tire pressure is the amount of air in a tire, measured in pounds per square inch
How often should I check my tires?
- At least monthly
- Whenever there is a temperature change, especially a drastic one
Why is tire pressure important?
- Your tires need to be inflated appropriately to give you the most traction on the road
- If the pressure is too low, much more of the surface of the tire is on the ground
- Leads to excessive wear on the treads and loss of traction
- Can also cause the tires to overheat
- If you have a performance tire, the thinner side wall of your tire will be more susceptible to damage
- Can make your tires squeal when cornering
- If the pressure is too high, less of the tire is on the ground
- Makes the ride more bumpy
- Tires cannot properly grip the road
- Overinflation can cause a blowout
How does the outdoor temperature affect tire pressure?
- Tire pressure goes up or down about a pound/square inch for every 10 degree change in temperature
- In warmer weather, tire pressure increases
- In colder weather, tire pressure decreases
- It is also important to check tire pressure BEFORE driving a considerable distance, as driving will heat up your tires and give you a false read
How do I know what my tire pressure should be?
- Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual under the appropriate tab
- Many cars also have this information inside the driver’s side door
- Your suggested tire pressure is NOT on the tire itself: that is the maximum pressure that the tire can handle and is not an advisable pressure
- Make sure to note any differences between front and rear tire pressures
Knowing your tires is just another way to stay safe on the road, so make sure you know how you’re riding.