Why Tire Pressure is So Important

By April 18, 2017Auto Maintenance

How often do you check your tire pressure? How often should you?

Do you even know how to check your tire pressure?

We’re going to tell you why tire pressure is so important to the overall health of your car, and what you can do to ensure it stays where it needs to be.

Why Tire Pressure is So Important

What is tire pressure?

Tire pressure measures the amount of air inside your vehicle’s tires. It’s measured in psi, or pounds per square inch.

Why is tire pressure important?

When your tires are properly inflated, your tires will wear evenly. This matters because uneven wear on tires can affect traction, braking, cornering, and overall stability — making driving unsafe. Even tire wear can also prolong the life of the tire and improve gas mileage.

How often should you check tire pressure?

The typical recommendation is monthly. At the very least, check your tire pressure when the seasons change, as changes in outdoor temperature can affect your tire pressure. Cold weather can cause tire pressure to drop, while hot weather can cause it to rise. Also check your tire pressure before a road trip.

Overinflation vs. Underinflation

Overinflating your tire means that less tire rubber is on the ground. This will definitely result in uneven wear. The center part will wear down, while the outer edges have more tread. This is called “center wear.” It also means a harder ride, and the more rigid a tire is, the more easily it can be damaged by everyday hazards like potholes. Imagine a balloon that is overinflated — even a small amount of pressure will make it pop. But a balloon with a little give in it can withstand a lot more.

Underinflating your tire means that more of the tire is sitting on the road. These tires don’t hold their shape as well and unlike overinflated tires, these tires wear out more easily on the sides of the tires. This is called “shoulder wear.” Underinflated tires are more flexible when they roll, which decreases gas mileage. They can also overheat because of the increased friction on the road, which could cause tread separation and lead to an accident. One sign of underinflation is if your tires squeal when going around corners.

How do I know what psi to inflate my tires to?

The psi displayed on your vehicle’s tires is the maximum pressure, which is not necessarily the recommended pressure. The recommended pressure is usually lower than what’s printed on your tire. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended tire pressure.

We recommend that you purchase a dial-type pressure gauge (the pencil-styles aren’t as accurate) and check your tire pressure when your tires are cold (in other words, first thing in the morning or when the car hasn’t been driven for a few hours or more than a few miles. Check all four tires at least seasonally or before a road trip.

How to Check Tire Pressure

To check your tire pressure:

  1. Remove the end caps on your tire’s air valves.
  2. Place the tire pressure gauge into the valve stem and press down quickly.
  3. Take a few readings on each tire to be sure.

The technicians at JL Motorworks will check your vehicle’s tire pressure every time you come in for a service! Any questions about tire pressure? Give us a call!