Tire maintenance is one of the most important things you can do for your car from a safety and cost standpoint. The easiest way to care for your tires is both quick and inexpensive: maintain the correct tire pressure.
Driving on under-inflated tires is one of the biggest causes of tire failure, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and under-inflated tires present many other problems. They wear out more rapidly, handle poorly and reduce fuel efficiency. In addition, over-inflated tires are more susceptible to damage from road irregularities, and this also creates a bumpier ride. Overfilling your tires is just as dangerous as under-filling them, so it’s important you know what is recommended for your vehicle.
Determining your tire pressure requirements
Since tire pressure is so important to your safety and your car’s overall performance, it’s important to know what tire pressure is right for your vehicle. Air pressure in tires is measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI; usually, the recommended pressure ranges between 30 and 35 PSI.
To learn what your tire pressure should be, look for your manufacturer’s recommendation, which is printed on a label inside your car. Depending on the vehicle, this label may be on the edge of the vehicle’s door, on the doorpost or in the glove box. The label will usually give recommendations for the front and rear tires as well as the spare, and it’s important you stick to those guidelines. (While you’re at it, check the air in your spare tire, too. It loses air pressure over time.) Even after you’ve replaced your tires, the same pressure guidelines on your car’s label apply to new tires of the same size. If your tires are larger than the stock models that came on your car and you’re unsure of the recommended PSI, check the tire’s sidewall to find the maximum cold PSI level.
Pressure recommendations are based on readings taken from Check the pressure first thing in the morning or wait at least three hours after driving; this provides sufficient time for them to cool back down.
Maintaining ideal tire pressure
Of course, knowing your recommended PSI isn’t enough. You have to ensure you’re checking your tires regularly. Some experts recommend you check the air pressure every time you refuel; others say once a month is sufficient. Monitoring the amount of air in your tires will let you know if you have a small leak and can help you avoid an unexpected flat tire.
Frequently checking your PSI becomes even more important in the fall and winter, when outside temperatures drop and weather conditions fluctuate causing your tires to lose air more quickly. Generally speaking, your tire will gain or lose one PSI for every 10-degree change in temperature, which means if you have a sudden drop of 30 degrees, you could lose three PSI overnight. If your tires were already low, this could cause tire damage, steering problems or even a flat tire.
Knowing and maintaining the right air pressure is important to the safety and longevity of your tires. All it takes is a and a few minutes of your time.
Once you have the right tire pressure, make sure you also have the right coverage. Learn more about how Nationwide auto insurance can help protect you and save you money.