Saturday, January 25, 2014

Everything You Could Ever Want To Know About Tire Pressure

With the rising cost of gasoline and no end in sight, people are looking for ways to maximize fuel efficiency to make their dollars go farther. One easy way to increase fuel economy and your car's overall performance is to maintain correct tire pressure. Every car comes with a manufacturer's recommendation on which tires should be used for that vehicle, and what pressure should be your target range.

Inflating your car's tires to the proper psi (pounds per square inch) maximizes driving comfort, tire durability and performance designed to match the needs of their vehicle. Proper tire inflation pressure also maintains the tire's structure through responsiveness, traction and handling. Proper pressure is not usually visible to the naked eye, therefore a gauge is recommended as a standard tool to keep in your glove compartment at all times.


If you tire is leaking air, or is just not inflated as much as needed the life of your tread could be dramatically reduced. Underinflated tires will cause the tire to bend as it rolls, building up internal heat and increasing resistance. This can translate into lower fuel efficiency and a significant loss of steering precision and stability.


Overinflated tires are stiff and less forgiving in nature. Potholes and road debris are more damaging to an overinflated tire. On the other hand, higher inflation offers an improvement in steering precision and stability.

Checking Tire Pressure

The proper time to check tire pressure is first thing in the morning before the tires have been driven on for the day. The manufacturer's recommended pressure is usually a cold tire pressure level, a reading that should be done before the day's rising temperatures.

If you are unable to check your tire pressure before driving for the day, there is a way to figure what your adjusted pressure would be for whatever your circumstance may be. Here are some suggestions:
Afternoon tire check: Try inflating to 2 psi above recommended levels if you are checking the pressure later in the day.

Indoor vs. Outdoor temps: If you store your car indoors overnight, try inflating 1 psi higher than recommended levels for every 10 degrees difference in indoor temperature vs. outdoor temperature.
Driven for short periods: If you have driven a short distance, or have driven less than 45 mph before checking the pressure, set your pressure 4 psi over the recommended level.

A longer drive: For a longer trip or driving at speeds higher than 45 mph before checking your tire pressure, add 6 psi to your recommended level.

One time you should not rely on an accurate pressure reading is after your car has been parked in direct sunlight. Your tires will appear to be overinflated due to the heat absorption from the sun, and pressure cannot be accurately gauged until the car has been out of the sunlight for a while.

In the Winter

Winter tire pressure can be higher than summer tire pressure. A typical recommendation is for tire pressure to be between three and five psi higher than normal tire pressure during the winter months. Winter tires tend to have more aggressive tread designs, softer tread compounds and deeper tread depths so they can be more pliable in the colder winter temperatures. This allows the tires to provide more traction on slippery, snowy roads. Increasing the tire pressure will allow more tire stability and performance responsiveness.

In the Summer

Summertime driving offers fewer weather hazards than winter driving. Therefore, your tires have a different operational performance in the summer. The tread doesn't need to be as deep and it's better for more of the tire to come in contact with the road, allowing more traction. It's not a good idea to overinflate your tires in the warm weather, as that detracts from their traction and fuel efficiency. Remember to measure your pressure first thing in the morning, if you can, so you can get an accurate cold pressure reading.

The best way to keep your tires performing at their best is to use the manufacturer's recommended psi rating located on the vehicle's tire placard or in your owner's manual. Minor adjustments can be made due to circumstances and weather conditions, but is mindful because even just a few psi can make a big difference to your tires and your fuel economy.

by Jason J Junge!
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