If you care about the vehicles you own and about your own safety, then it is extremely important for you to maintain optimum air pressure in your car tires. There are various problems and issues that you may have to encounter if your tire pressure is not ideal. These issues can range from small flaws to bigger dangers of an accident.
Maintaining Proper Tire Pressure
Sometimes your tires could be underinflated or they could be overinflated as well. Both the cases are going to bring in a number of issues that can lead to complications with your car parts and damage the health and longevity of your car.
Risks associated with over-inflated tires
Do not go beyond the optimum tire pressure recommended by the manufacturer. When you exceed the prescribed limit, you invite the following risks.
- It could lead to a blowout
An over-inflated tire is at high risk of a blowout which is extremely dangerous and can cause you to lose control of your car brakes and even end up in a crash. Many safety features of your car are associated with the optimum pressure of your tires. If the tires are over-inflated, features like the anti-lock braking system go for a toss and cause further trouble.
- Tires could wear out faster
A tire which is overfilled will be stiffer than usual and will lose much of its flexibility. Also, the shape of the tire will be distorted when you over-inflate the tire and it will bulge out more towards the center. This will make the tire more prone to damage from bumps and particles on the road. Along the central part of the tire, the damage is going to be extensive. So, over-inflated tires are going to wear out much faster.
- Traction and grip are impaired
If a tire is over-inflated, it becomes stiff and distorted in shape so the traction and grip will be impaired too.
Risks associated with under-inflated tires
Do not under inflate your car tires as they also come with their own set of evils.
- It is more prone to accidents
An under-inflated tire is prone to failures and problems that can eventually lead to an accident.
- Uses more gas
You will have to shell out more money to buy extra gas if your tires are under-inflated. If tires are not inflated properly, they will end up wasting gas and costing you too much.
- Increases wear and tear
Under-inflated tires are more likely to suffer damages from plying on road over bumps and debris. You will have to replace your tires more often and this will lead to increased cost of replacement and maintenance of tires.
Tools to Check your Tire Pressure
Checking the tire pressure is an easy task if you have the proper tools and equipment. Do not rely on your instinct or try to tell if a tire is under-inflated or over-inflated by looking at it. A tire that looks any different is already way into the big danger zone. Cars usually come with a built-in TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) but it is not too reliable either. These systems are not that sensitive and they warn you only when the tire pressure falls 25 percent below the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure.
Buy a good quality tire pressure gauge as it is a handy tool. You can keep it in the glove compartment of your car, ready to help you when the need arises. A tire pressure gauge does not cost much and will effectively help you to save money in the long run by increasing your fuel economy.
Stepwise instruction to Check the Tire Pressure
Checking the tire pressure is a simple job when you have a good tire pressure gauge with yourself. Digital tire pressure gauges are the easiest to read. Before you actually begin to take a reading, find out the recommended pressure for your car tires. You will find the tire placard inside the side door on the driver’s side, in the glove compartment, or in the fuel door. This placard will display the ideal pressure recommended by the carmaker. You can also refer to the user manual to get the correct values. Usually, different values are recommended for the front and the rear tires. Often a value is given for the spare tire too. The unit followed is PSI or pounds per square inch and the values typically refer to cold tire inflation pressure. Never take the PSI value you see on the tire’s sidewall as the baseline.
Step 1: You have to check the tire pressure when the tires are cold. If you have been driving around then they would take at least half an hour’s time to cool down. It would be best if you check the tire pressure first thing in the morning when the ambient temperature is lower and also your tires are not heated up due to driving.
Step 2: Take off the valve cap from the tire and set it aside carefully. Put it in the glove compartment or into your pockets in order to not lose it.
Step 3: Now you have to insert the tire pressure gauge into the valve system of the tire. Do this step quickly so that the sealing is done fast and there is no hissing sound of air escaping. A digital tire pressure gauge will immediately show you the pressure value. If you have a stick tire pressure gauge, then wait till it pops and if you have an analog tire pressure gauge then wait till the needle moves and shows you a reading.
Step 4: Read the tire pressure gauge and note it down at a place for later reference. Maintaining regular readings of tire pressure in your car will help you to keep track of smaller problems too.
Step 5: Compare the value of the reading to the value recommended by the manufacturer. If you have under-inflated tires, you need to refill the tire and bring it back to the recommended PSI value.
How to Fix the Tire Pressure
If you see that the pressure in your car tires is below the recommended reading then you need to refill it immediately. For every 3 PSI of pressure difference with the recommended reading, you are going to waste 1% of fuel and increase the chances of tire damage by 10%. And, if the pressure difference is as high as 10 PSI then the fuel wastage will go up to 3%. Also, the wear and tear of your car tires will increase by 45%. If the tire pressure reading comes out to be more than the recommended setting, then also you need to release some air and fix the tire pressure. On the other hand, if the tire pressure reading is less then you have to pump air into the tires to restore the normal pressure.
The easiest step that everyone takes is to take the car to the nearest gas station in order to refill the tires. The mechanic will help you to refill the tires to the optimum pressure level.
If you are a DIY enthusiast then you can buy a portable air compressor to refill the tires in your own garage too. The cheaper varieties are a bit slow and take up a lot of time to refill the tires adequately. If you can buy a higher-level compressor which is a bit more expensive too, then it will be easier for you to refill the tires on your own. They connect to the battery terminals directly, making it swifter.
How to Adjust the Tire Pressure
You have to first take your car close enough so that the hose of the air compressor can reach all the four tires easily. Then you can turn on the air compressor. It will start up with a usual whirring sound of the motor. You can take off the stem caps now. Keep them in your pockets or some place safe when you will not misplace them. Press down the air compressor hose to fit on the valve stem and then press the lever to allow air to flow in. You will be able to hear the air entering into the tires, inflating them properly at this stage. On your part, you may have to use some strength to hold the hose in place.
You can check if you have enough air pressure or not by releasing the inflation lever. There is a gauge on the air compressor hose which will show you the tire pressure now. It shows an approximate value and you can verify again with your other tire pressure gauge. You can slightly over-inflate the tire in order to give yourself some buffer.
Fill all the four tires in the same manner. It is better to fill the tires when they are cold. However, if you have to refill them when they are warm then overfill them by up to 3 PSI.
Once you are done with all the tires, bring out your own tire pressure gauge and recheck the pressure values. If it is a bit on the higher side, then release a bit of air pressure and adjust to reach the optimum recommended value.
Finally, replace the stem caps on all the four tires of your car.
It is a good practice to get your car tire pressure checked every month. It is a simple and easy task which you can do on your own without any help. And, it will ensure that you are saving up more on your fuel costs and are also safer while driving on the streets.