When we think of car maintenance, we rarely consider our tire pressure. Most people will get regular tune-ups, but don’t ever think about the air in their tires until they have a flat. Tire pressure is affected by the temperature outside, but you can also lose air if you run over potholes, hit curbs, or have worn tires.
Having the correct amount of air pressure in your tires is important for safe driving and increased gas mileage. You also get better handling, and your tires will last longer. A good set of car tires should last you for many years. With proper maintenance, you can be confident that your tire pressure is where it needs to be. Get into the habit of regularly checking the air in your tires so you can be safe while driving.
So, how do you check the air in your tires? It seems pretty straightforward, but you should use these tips to monitor your tire air pressure successfully.
Check tire pressure when the vehicle is cold
To get an accurate reading, you should always check your tire pressure when they are cold. As your tires heat up, the air pressure increases by one psi every 10 degrees the temperature goes up. When you drive, the tire’s temperature goes up. If you check right after driving, you could get a false reading.
When you check the tire pressure, do your best to not let any air out. The air pressure will go back to normal when you park the vehicle for the night. You don’t want to start the next day with under-inflated tires because you lowered the psi the day before.
Create a habit of checking your tire pressure every month. It could be on the first or whatever day you can remember. This is a good maintenance checkup with a fast and easy schedule.
Use the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle
Most passenger vehicles have a recommended tire pressure between 32 psi and 35 psi. However, you should check the specific pressure for your car, which may be different from the norm. You can find this in the owner’s manual, on a sticker near the driver’s door, or on the sidewall of the tire itself.
There will be a two-digit number followed by psi or pounds per square inch. This represents the minimum amount of pressure needed to support the weight of your vehicle safely. There may also be a maximum psi, but it is better to set the level at the recommended amount.
Buy your own tire gauge
When you check your tires for air, most gas stations will have a pressure gauge attached to the air pump or hose. This makes it convenient to check before you start filling them. They can get damaged because they are left outside and may not give you an accurate reading through.
Better yet, you should have your own gauge in the car with you. You can keep it in the glove compartment or emergency kit in your trunk but make sure you have one. You can get a standard stick gauge that has a stem to measure the air pressure. There are also dial gages and digital models for accurate readings.
Fill the tire with air
Now that you have determined you need to put air in the tire, go to the nearest service station or car wash with an air pressure pump. Start by taking off your valve stem cap and put it in your pocket. You’d be surprised how easily these get lost.
Check the tire pressure and compare it to the cold pressure you check that morning. Place the air nozzle evenly over the valve stem and push the nipple down while keeping constant pressure to keep it engaged. If you hear a hissing sound when filling, then air is escaping because you don’t have a seal on the stem. Reposition to the nozzle and start filling.
Finish filling the tire
Check the pressure in your car tires often, ensuring that you don’t overfill. Repeat this until you get to the recommended tire pressure, replace the valve cap and move on to the other tires. You can also check and fill your spare. If you do overfill the tire, just use the nozzle to release enough air to get your psi right.
That’s all it takes to fill the air in your car tires. It’s important to have your tires at the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires are softer and use extra fuel to control the traction. Less air means less strength, and this can lead to a tire blowout. Overinflated tires aren’t any better. They are rigid and have less contact with the road, making them wear unevenly. This will lead to having to replace your tires sooner.