Why Should I Check My Tire Pressure?

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Why Should I Check My Tire Pressure?

Maintaining your car can seem like a major pain in the butt, but it’s also vitally important since most of us spend a lot of time in our cars and/or have plans to get every mile we can out of our cars. In the same way, keeping your tires in peak condition so you can get every mile possible out of them may seem inconvenient, but is vitally important both for the life of your tires and your safety. Getting every mile you can out of those tires starts before you even buy your tires by selecting the right tire for your car and driving style and ends when you tires show signs that it’s time for tire replacement.

So what do you do in the middle of the process to keep those tires in good condition and you safe? There are a few things you can do, including checking for alignment issues, regular tire rotation and checking your tire pressure on a regular basis.

Why is Tire Pressure important?

  1. Safety – Tires with improper tire pressure can cause handling and traction issues, which are dangerous especially during our Wisconsin winters. In addition, overinflated or underinflated tires are both vulnerable to unpredicted flats, which can cause you to lose control of your car or leave you stranded on the side of the road.
  2. Saves money. An underinflated or overinflated tire can accelerate the tread wear of your tires. With an overinflated tire, less of the tread is touching the road wearing parts of your tire tread more quickly. An underinflated tire does the opposite: more of the tire is wearing down faster. Either way, a tire not wearing properly leaves you vulnerable to blown tires and more frequent tire replacement.
  3. Smooth ride. Tires with too much pressure guarantee a bumpy ride. Underinflated tires give you a softer ride, but can cause handling problems.
  4. Gas mileage. Underinflated or overinflated tires can actually cost you more over the life of your car. That’s right. Tires with too much pressure or not enough decrease your gas mileage, making you stop at the pump more often.

How do I check my tire pressure?

You can’t check tire pressure by looking at them; some tires may be down 10 pounds of air pressure and you can’t tell! The best way to check your tire pressure is by using a tire pressure gauge, or by asking your mechanic to check your tire pressure with a tire pressure gauge. Don’t forget to check your spare tire, in addition to all four tires.

  1. Get a tire pressure gauge. The good news: tire pressure gauges are pretty cheap, depending on the type you buy. Here’s a quick  video as a reference for checking your tire pressure.
  2. Remove the cap from the tire stem. (The tire stem is a small rubber piece sticking up from your tire.)
  3. Insert the tire pressure gauge into the tire stem. You will feel the gauge fit in there correctly. (If you have a gauge with a knob for deflation, you will know if you are using the right end if you DON’T hear air escaping.)
  4. The end of your tire pressure gauge will register a number electronically or the white numbers will rise at the other end of the tire pressure gauge.

What is the proper tire pressure for my tires?

Good question! A common misperception is that the tire pressure is on the tire. Not true! The proper PSI (pounds per square inch-tire pressure) is in your car’s owner manual or on a decal on the bottom of your door frame on the driver’s side.

It’s the first cold fall morning, and suddenly you’re faced with that annoying tire pressure light coming on; why? The weather plays a big part on the pressure in your tires. Hot weather may make your tires over inflate. However, very cold weather may cause your tires to be dangerously under inflated. It’s important to have the right air pressure in your car tires.

Each vehicle tire has a specific pressure measurement that will offer the best handling, the best gas mileage, and that will give you the longest life for those tires.  This measurement is called the PSI, or air pressure “Per Square Inch”.  On more recent vehicles the recommended pressure is listed on a sticker on the side of the driver’s side door. Most passenger cars recommend between 32 and 35 psi in the tires when they are cold, or after having been sitting still.  When the car moves it creates friction in the tires and that generates heat. This heat increases the air pressure so depending on how far you were driving, how fast, how long, etc., your pressure can change.  For this reason the best time to check is when it’s been sitting idle for a period of time. You can check the air pressure using a Do not inflate your tires to the pressure listed on the tire itself. That number is the maximum pressure the tire can hold, not the recommended pressure for the vehicle.

Seems tricky, right? Over-inflating your tires will give you a bouncy ride and an ill-handling car, while under-inflated tires can develop premature wear from increased friction. Either way, not having your tires at their recommended pressure will negatively affect tire wear and vehicle performance. If you aren’t sure or comfortable just bring it on by one of our locations in Lynchburg and we’ll do it for you!

How often should I check my tire pressure?

Tires can actually lose or gain pressure with the seasons. Check your tire pressure seasonally, ask our mechanics to check your tire pressure at every oil change appointment.

Another opportunity is to check your tire pressure when you take your car in to the shop to have tires rotated and balanced. (if you’re curious as to how often that should be; check out our BLOG, here),

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