Proper tire pressure plays a very important role in the ride quality of your vehicle out on the road, and is key to ensuring optimal safety at high speeds. In all driving conditions from blizzards to deserts, inflating your tires to the manufacturer recommended pressure can improve stability, handling, ride quality and overall safety.
Since 1968, all vehicle manufacturers provide the original tire sizes and inflation pressure on a placard, which may be located in one of the following places: driver side door jamb, glove compartment, fuel refilling door or cover, or somewhere in the engine compartment. Some manufacturers will also list the recommended tire pressures in the owner’s manual for the vehicle. If one or many of your tires are above or below the recommended pressure, the rate and pattern of wear as well as performance characteristics have likely changed, often for the worse.
Tire with air pressure much less than what is recommended could fail prematurely, usually when under the greatest stress, which means tire failure while you are driving across town or on the highway. Tread wear is also accelerated by as much as 20-30%, which means replacements will be required much sooner (if they don’t fail beforehand). When inflation pressure is low, the tire will deflect, or bend, more as it rolls, resulting in increased internal heat, more rolling resistance and a noticeable hit to fuel economy by as much as 2-3 miles per gallon.
Tires will naturally lose air pressure over time, about 1 psi per month. If you went without checking your tire pressure for 5 or 6 months (which many people do), you will likely find that your tires have lost up to 6 psi in that time. Changes in temperature can also effect tire pressure, with a reduction of 1 psi for every drop of 10 degrees fahrenheit . In other words, if you inflate your tires to 30 psi at 80 degrees, if the temperature drops to 30 degrees during a cold spell, the tires will lose approximately 5 psi, which is about a 16% loss in pressure for an average tire. When the passage of time and decreased temperatures are combined, it becomes clear why checking tire pressure regularly is vital.
Filling your tires with too much air can make them more susceptible to damage from road debris and pot holes, and will also result in a harsher, stiffer ride. Over-inflation may provide a small increase to steering response and cornering stability, but can be detrimental for the average vehicle operating day to day.
Ideally, your vehicle’s tires should be inspected regularly (by you or a technician), and inflated to no more than 3 psi above the manufacturer recommended average, and no less than 3 under. Checking the pressure often can also help catch a slow leak in one of your tires, so the leak can be stopped and repaired or patched before it becomes too severe.
Just a couple minutes every week is all it takes to make sure your tire pressure is close to the recommended number. Keeping them at an ideal pressure will help you get maximum performance and reliability from your tires!
Havoline® xpress lube® in Kernersville, NC has long been the areas most reliable service center, and among other things, we specialize in tire alignment, balancing, rotation and proper inflation. Stop by our service center today for the best auto repair experience in the triad!