Many accidents are caused by underinflated tires. If you’re not doing it already, it’s time to start checking your tires every month. You’ll be saving money, and you could save lives.
Isn’t once every few months enough? No, it isn’t. There are many reasons why you need to check tire pressure every month.
Save money. Tires wear out faster if they’re underinflated, and they wear irregularly if they’re overinflated – so in both cases you’ll need to buy new tires more often. Proper care stabilizes the tire structure and can extend the average life of a tire by a staggering 7,500 km. And you’ll save on fuel: if the tires are underinflated, the vehicle will consume more fuel per mile traveled, and thus achieve lower mileage.
Enjoy a more comfortable ride. Properly inflated tires influence the responsiveness of the vehicle, and its handling and performance. Which takes us to the next point.
Safety first. If tires are under- or overinflated, handling is affected. Handling becomes sluggish if the tires are underinflated, and dangerous if they’re overinflated, especially if you’re cornering at high speed. Stopping distance, braking grip and directional stability are all affected. As your tires struggle to stay on the road, heat builds up, making blowouts more likely and increasing the chances of a serious accident.
Consider the environment. If your car’s tires are underinflated by just 0.3 bar, rolling resistance is increased, so your vehicle will consume about 1.5 percent more fuel and therefore release more CO2. Proper inflation means a perfect balance of maximum safety and fuel economy. Your tires will last longer and you’ll reduce your carbon footprint.
Tire pressure is expressed as pounds per square inch (PSI). It’s based on a vehicle’s weight and size, and it’s important to use exactly the pressure that’s recommended for your vehicle by the manufacturer. This will ensure safety and optimal performance.
Check the pressure every two to four weeks, and always before setting off on longer journeys or if you’re carrying additional loads.
Cold tires. You’ll get a more accurate reading if you check the pressure when the tires are cold, before the outside temperature rises and the tires are exposed to direct sunlight. If the outside temperature increases by 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the tire pressure will increase by 1 PSI. In winter, in some climates, tires could experience a drop of up to 5 PSI.
Find the handbook. Identify the manufacturer’s recommended pressure for the front and rear tires of your particular vehicle. This is the minimum amount of air pressure needed in cold tires to support your vehicle. You’ll probably see two figures, one for normal use and one for full loads; it will look something like “35 PSI.” You’ll find this either in the vehicle handbook in the car, or inside the fuel filler cap, or on the driver’s door post. If you can’t find it, consult your vehicle dealer, manufacturer or qualified tire professional.
The gauge. Use a reliable, accurate tire pressure gauge either at home (you can buy one at an auto parts dealer) or at a gas station (tire pressure gauges can be used free of charge). Gauges are either battery-operated digital gauges or more traditional stick-type gauges.
Check the tire pressure. Remove the end cap on the tire’s air valve and keep it safe. Place the gauge onto the valve stem and press down quickly and firmly until the hissing sound of air escaping stops. Your gauge will now show a reading of the PSI. Compare this with the manufacturer’s recommendation.
Adjust the pressure. If the reading is above the recommendation, push in the valve to let out some air. You may have to do this a few times until the gauge shows the correct reading. If the PSI reading is below the recommendation, use an air compressor (at the gas station if you don’t own one) to fill the tire with air until it has the correct level. Replace the valve cap tightly and repeat the process with the three remaining tires, plus the spare tire.
Continental has developed a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) that works with wheel sensors and brake systems to alert the driver to low tire-pressure levels, via a dashboard warning light.
This invaluable safety feature also helps reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, and increases the length of your car’s optimal performance lifespan.
However, even if your vehicle is equipped with a TPMS, you still need to check tire pressure every two to four weeks, to ensure a better, safer driving experience.