Many drivers are wizards at using automotive infotainment, whether it’s streaming music, making hands-free calls, or receiving navigational instructions through their speakers. But what about tires? It’s ironic that some very tech-savvy drivers haven’t a clue about performing this car maintenance task, along with other basic skills.
Start With the Right Tool
First, it’s a mistake to rely on the car’s automatic tire pressure sensor solely. Tires lose about one pound per square inch (PSI) per month and one PSI per 10 degrees of outside temperature change. Fluctuations happen fast. Tire pressure monitoring systems don’t trigger until a tire loses 20% of its air pressure, which is why it’s important to check tire pressure every 30 days. To determine PSI levels, visit any auto parts store and buy a tire pressure “pencil” gauge. It’s inexpensive but accurate. Unscrew the tire’s valve cap, place the gauge’s corresponding fitting on the stem and press. A small post pops out the rear with numbers on it. Where it stops is the correct tire pressure. Repeat this action for the remaining tires, then add air if needed.
How Much Air to Add?
Knowing this is critical car maintenance. Most vehicles have an optimal tire pressure label on the driver or passenger-side door frame. Don’t go by the number on the tire’s sidewall. That’s the maximum pressure the tire can handle. Bad things may happen if inflated that high. However, don’t underinflate tires either. They will wear quickly and lose their tread, resulting in compromised steering and stopping ability.
The doorframe label usually has two numbers, one for both front and rear tires. It may read 32 PSI front; 34 PSI rear, depending on the vehicle. While repeatedly checking the tire pressure gauge, pump air into the tire until its readout matches the label number. Avoid the urge to overinflate. Many think a few extra pounds of air is a safe practice, but overinflated tires can suddenly blow out at high speed and temperature, putting the driver and others in peril. Follow the recommended PSI numbers precisely.
The Importance of Keeping Tires Properly Inflated
Properly inflated tires can lead to better road performance and fuel economy. A tire that is underinflated will wear through its tread more quickly and burn through fuel quicker. The driver who drives on under-inflated tires uses about 144 extra gallons of gasoline, equating to an extra 300-500 dollars spent a year. For each gallon of gasoline burned, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide are added to the atmosphere. In addition to saving fuel and reducing emissions, properly inflated tires are safer on the highway—an under-inflated tire takes longer to stop and is more prone to skidding in wet conditions.
For our friends in North New Jersey, fill out this online booking form, and we can check your tire pressure for you while servicing your car—right from your driveway.