Proper tire inflation is essential to the overall tire performance of your vehicle and to the safety of your ride. Properly inflated tires will provide better fuel efficiency, longer tread life, quicker steering response and smoother, more comfortable ride. Underinflation and overinflation can cause premature tread wear, reduced handling capabilities, road noise and ride discomfort, as well as possible tire failure.
Checking and maintaining your tire pressure is simple. You should check tire pressure weekly in order to maintain proper tire inflation.
To check your tire inflation pressure, you will need:
- Car owner manual
- Tire pressure gauge
- Air compressor / Tire inflator
To check your tire inflation pressure, follow these steps:
- Start with cold tires
- Determine your vehicle's recommended tire pressure
- Check tire pressure with tire pressure gauge
- Adjust tire pressure (inflate or deflate) as needed
Step 1: Start with Cold Tires
To properly check your tire pressure, you need to check your tires when they are cold. Tires are considered cold when the vehicle has been parked for three hours or more, or if the vehicle has been driven less than a mile (1.6 kilometers) at moderate speed.
Step 2: Check Vehicle Manufacturer's Recommended Tire Inflation
Car manufacturers indicate their recommended tire inflation pressure in Pounds per Square Inch (PSI). You can find your vehicle's recommended PSI numbers for front and rear tires in your vehicle's manual or on the driver’s side door jamb.
Remember that this recommended tire pressure is the lowest minimum for your vehicle. Depending on weather or extra load, you might inflate your tires above that number. Note that some vehicles require different tire inflation for front and rear tires. Also, you will notice that tires have their own PSI number written on the sidewall - that PSI number indicates the maximum tire inflation for that tire, not the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle.
Step 3: Use Tire Pressure Gauge To Measure Tire Pressure
Unscrew the valve stem caps from the valve stems on the tires. Use a tire pressure gauge to measure tire pressure for all tires.
Press air pressure gauge evenly onto the valve stem and record the reading given. If you hear a hissing sound, tire pressure gauge might not be pressed tight or even enough onto the valve stem for an accurate reading. You may need to adjust the angle of the gauge.
Once finished measuring tire pressure, replace valve stem cap to keep dirt and moisture away from the valve mechanism in the valve stem.
Step 4: Adjust Tire Pressure
Once you have identified underinflated tires that need air pressure adjustment, use the air compressor to inflate tires to proper inflation levels. Most air compressors have a built-in pressure gauge that will show you inflation PSI as you pump the air. Make sure to read air compressor manual for proper usage.
If tires are overinflated, depress the valve stem core to vent some air out. Make sure to check tire inflation level after that.
Regularly following these simple steps will help keep your tires properly inflated, ensuring safe, comfortable, fuel efficient performance of your vehicle.