With regards to driving safety, tire pressure is consistently probably the hottest topic. For what reason does tire pressure matter? What the hell is that small annoying symbol on my dashboard? Would it be a good idea for me to under-inflated my tire during the winter? How regularly would it be a good idea for me to check my tire pressure?
We got huge loads of inquiries like this from our local area, so for now, let’s dive deep into the world of tire pressure, put our nerdy glasses on and figure out everything you need to know about your tires.
- What’s The Recommended Tire Pressure For My Car?
The recommended tire pressure varies and depends on the manufacturer after thousands of tests and calculations. For most vehicles, you can find the ideal tire pressure on the sticker/card inside the driver’s door for newer cars. If there’s no sticker, you can usually find the info in the owner’s manual. Normal tire pressure is usually between 32~40 psi (pounds per square inch) when they are cold. So make sure you check your tire pressure after a long stay, and usually, you can do it in the early morning.
- How to Check the Tire Pressure?
After knowing your vehicle’s proper tire pressure recommended by the manufacturer, you should check your tire pressure regularly to make sure that you are in good shape.
- How to Maintain Proper Tire Inflation?
Tire maintenance is vital for the overall performance of your vehicle, and we suggest that you check your tire pressure every time you inflate your tire, each 10°F (5.6 °C) temperature change, and every 30 days.
Be mindful that don’t wait until the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) light come on before you check the tire pressure, as the normal TPMS may:
Turn on after the tire pressure is well underinflated.
Cannot detect gradual air loss
Cannot detect over-inflated tires
Cannot tell which tire is under-inflated
Cannot turn on if the TPMS is not transmitting the signal to the dashboard
Thus, we highly recommend that you check your tire pressure occasionally, especially before a long drive or heavy load driving. Also, temperature affects the tire pressure a lot, and we will talk about that in the next section.
- How Does Temperature Affect Tire Pressure?
First of all, the rule of thumb is for every 10°F (5.6 °C) decrease in temperature, the tire pressure will drop by one psi for most vehicles. When it comes to commercial truck tires, which are often inflated to over 80 psi the change of tire pressure increases and the temperature increases as well.
- How Does Tire Pressure Affect Driving
Both overinflation and underinflation affect your tire performance a lot, and serious problems might occur. According to NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), driving on underinflated tires increases a driver’s chance of being in a serious accident by 300%. So how will a bad tire pressure affect driving safety? We will explain in detail below.
Here’s how tire pressure affects grip
The grip is mostly associated with the size of the contact patch between the tire and the road. An over-inflated tire radically decreases the contact patch, while an under-inflated tire does the opposite.
A larger contact patch provides more grip, and this is the exact reason why lots of racers will intentionally decrease their tire pressures to create a larger contact patch on a dry race track.
How tire pressure affects tire wear
The contact patch directly decides the pattern of the tire’s wear and tear. You don’t want your tires to wear out prematurely just because you have an over or under-inflated tire.
How tire pressure affects fuel economy
Imagine you are a ball rolling on the ice, there’s no friction between the two surfaces, and how much extra force do you need to apply to keep the ball moving? Zero (According to Newton’s law). The same principle applies to your fuel consumption when it comes to driving on the road. The rolling resistance between your tires and the road clearly affects fuel economy. By now, we should all know the logic behind this. Lower tire pressure leads to a larger contact patch, which causes higher rolling resistance and, thus, poor fuel economy.
Tire pressure is always a hot topic regarding driving safety, and it’s vital to monitor the tire pressure to maximize fuel efficiency and safety.