Understanding Tire Pressure
By Integra Tire Canada
Your safety on the road, and your tires, may be at stake, and the hidden culprit might surprise you: tire pressure. Usually, a problem with tire pressure is not visible (unless your tire is on the verge of a meltdown), but it is a critical aspect of safe driving. We’re here to unravel the secrets of proper air pressure maintenance. From locating the ideal inflation levels to steering clear of the dangers of overinflation and underinflation, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll learn about tire pressure, find out how to track it down, check levels, and avoid the hazards of driving on overinflated or underinflated tires.
Finding The Right Tire Pressure
Consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual as your go-to resource. You may also find the correct tire pressure listed on a nifty sticker placed on the door jamb, glove box door, or even the fuel door. Keep an eye out for a two-digit number followed by ‘PSI’ (pounds per square inch). For instance, you’ll often come across a common recommendation of 35 PSI for passenger vehicles. This number represents the minimum air pressure required to support the weight of your vehicle. Do not use the ‘MAX PSI’ found on the sidewall of your tire, this marking indicates the maximum pressure possible, not the recommended or optimum level.
Checking and Adjusting Tire Pressure
For this, you’ll need two tools: a tire pressure gauge and a reliable air compressor. Seek out these handy tools at gas stations or auto service centers, where they’re often graciously provided free of charge or for a nominal fee. Take your pick between a digital or analog gauge, but if you want the easiest experience, digital is the way to go!
- Time it right: Measure your tire pressure when they’re cold. Ideally, before hitting the road or at least three hours after parking your ride. We want an accurate reading, and the heat from driving can throw it off.
- Valve caps: Unscrew the valve cap from the tire’s valve stem, keeping it safe and sound in your pocket or somewhere easily accessible. We don’t want it vanishing!
- The gauge connection: Firmly attach the tire pressure gauge to the valve stem. Glance at the gauge’s display and compare it to the recommended PSI for your specific vehicle.
- Inflate or deflate: If the pressure is too low, add air until you hit the recommended PSI. On the flip side, if it’s too high, gently press the valve stem with the gauge to release air until the balance is restored.
- All tires: Repeat the entire process for each of your four tires.
And don’t forget to reattached your valve caps!
If you hit the road with overinflated tires, be prepared for a bumpy ride. You may encounter all sorts of issues, including:
- Handling hazards and compromised safety: Overinflated tires can’t provide the necessary sidewall flexibility, affecting your vehicle’s handling and compromising your safety. Precise braking becomes a challenge, and your tires may struggle to maintain optimal traction.
- Uneven tire wear: With excessive pressure, your tire’s center bulges out, causing the rubber to wear out primarily in that area. The result? Bald strips in the middle and reduced contact with the road, risking compromised performance and grip.
- Blowouts lurking around the corner: Heat dissipation becomes a burning concern when your tires are overinflated. Bald strips can’t efficiently dissipate heat, leading to a potentially dangerous situation. The increased heat buildup puts you at risk of sudden tire blowouts, and that’s definitely not something you want to experience!
On the flip side, driving with underinflated tires comes with its own set of troubles. These include:
- Compromised safety: This can include increased braking distances and a dramatic impact on steering and handling. When tire pressure dips significantly low, more of the tire’s tread face comes into contact with the road, generating excess friction. This friction becomes a recipe for disaster, leading to overheating, tread separation, and, in extreme cases, tire blowouts.
- Premature wear: Underinflation significantly reduces the lifespan of your tires. Neglected tire pressure wears down your tires on both outside shoulders. The excessive contact between the edges and the road causes uneven wear, hastening their demise.
- Empty wallets: The larger tire surface area in contact with the road increases rolling resistance and friction, draining fuel.
Monitor Your Pressure
Proper tire pressure is crucial for your safety and tire durability. By deciphering the recommended PSI, recognizing the signs of improper tire pressure, and being equipped with the necessary actions, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle tire pressure challenges. By maintaining optimal tire pressure, you’ll enjoy a safer driving experience, maximize tire life, and even save on fuel costs. So, make it a habit to regularly check and adjust your tire pressure—your tires and your wallet will thank you!
Questions? Our Advisors are Happy to Help!If you have questions about anything you've read in this resource page, contact your nearest Integra Tire dealer for more information. We are passionate in assisting our customers make the best choices to keep their vehicles in tip-top shape and keep their families safe.
About UsIntegra Tire is a network of independent tire, automotive, and maintenance dealers across Canada.