Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Checking Your Tire Pressure
January 25, 2016
Your tires affect your car’s ride, handling, braking, and overall safety. Tire care is one of the easiest things to keep up with, but also one of the most neglected components of vehicle safety. Everyone should get in the habit of taking just five minutes each month to look over their tires, including the spare. Today’s tires can lose up to half of their inflation pressure and still not “look” flat, and inadequate pressure can lead to additional tire stress, irregular wear, loss of control on the road, or even an accident. Here are a few tips to ensure that your tires are road worthy:
1. Check the pressure: Use a gauge to make sure your tires are at the pressure specified by the vehicle manufacturer. Most cars have a sticker with the appropriate pressure somewhere around the door jamb of the driver’s door, or you may need to check your owner’s manual for the correct pressure. We don’t recommend using what’s on the sidewall of the tire, which gives the maximum pressure for the tire, but not the pressure for optimum driving of your specific vehicle.
2. Be cool, bro: It’s best to check your tire pressure when the tires are cold… so when your car hasn’t been driven for at least three hours, or when it has been driven for less than a mile. That said, tire pressure can drop .5 to 1 psi for every 10 degree drop in ambient temperature. You’ll need tin increase your tire pressure accordingly.
3. Honest Abe and tread wear: Test your tread by turning a penny upside down and sliding it into the tire’s tread. If you can see all of Abraham Lincoln’s head, it’s time for new rubber. Make sure you test the tread in several places, about 15 inches apart, to account for uneven tread wear.
4. Don’t overdo it: Remember, over-inflated tires can be just as dangerous as under-inflated tires. Overly inflated tires are damaged more easily by potholes, are subject to uneven tread wear, can increase cabin noise, and make for a rougher ride.
Tires can lose 1 psi or more each month. Get into the habit of checking your tires regularly to ensure that your vehicle is running at its best every time you hit the road.
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