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Checking Tire Pressure

Checking tire pressure is one of the most important things you can do in car maintenance. Fortunately, it’s also one of the easiest.

Before checking your tire pressure, the first thing you need to know is what the correct tire pressure of your vehicle is. You may be able to find this information in several places: the driver’s side door jamb, inside the glove compartment, on the inside of the fuel door, or in your owner’s manual. When checking your tire pressure, this number will be your reference point.

Over or underinflated tires each present their own unique dangers. When a tire is overinflated, less of the tire is touching the road. Of course, the reduction in traction makes the vehicle harder to control. Stopping and cornering are affected, and the vehicle generally has poor riding comfort. Underinflated tires present the opposite problem. Too much of the tire’s surface area is touching the road, which translate into increased tire wear and – at highway speeds – a good chance of a blowout. Incorrect tire pressure will also lower your fuel economy.

As you can see, you will want to take some time (about once a month or so) to make sure your tire pressure is within the proper levels. To do this, you will need a tire pressure gauge. You can get one any place auto products are sold. You will want to avoid the slim, pencil-like tire pressure gauges, which are typically inaccurate. Instead, use a gauge with a dial or digital readout for more accuracy.

When you check your tire pressure, you will want to do so when the tires are “cold” or at air temperature. As you drive, the air in the tire heats up and expands – increasing the tire pressure. If you try to measure the tire pressure after driving more than a few miles, you will not get an accurate reading. It’s also worth noting that the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure is based on when your tires are cold, so wait at least 30 minutes after driving before checking tire pressure.

If your tires are overinflated, simply press the tire pressure gauge halfway onto the valve stem to release the extra air (you should hear a loud hiss as you do this). If your tires are underinflated and need more air, you will need an air compressor. You can buy one at an auto supply store, or use one at your local gas station. If improperly inflated tires are a recurring problem with your vehicle, bring it in to The Tire Choice for an inspection. We can inflate your tires with nitrogen to stabilize our tire pressure an improve tire performance.


Tips and Facts

Tip: Nitrogen has a number of benefits on tire pressure. Read our article on nitrogen filled tires to learn more.
Tip: Some vehicles require different tire pressures for the front wheels and rear wheels. Refer to your owner’s manual for more info.
Fact: Five PSI above or below your manufacturer’s suggested tire pressure counts as over or underinflated, respectively.
Fact: Tire pressure monitor systems (TPMS) are equipped on all U.S. model passenger vehicles made in 2008 or later.
Fact: The air inside tires heats up so much while driving, it causes the tires to deform while the vehicle is in motion.


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