Proper maintenance of your car can be crucial for its long life and safe operation. Your tires are one of the most important parts of your car; literally the place where the rubber meets the road. Regular care and maintenance are crucial to the safe and reliable performance of your vehicle.
The air pressure inside your tires needs to be checked regularly to help ensure your vehicle runs smoothly and efficiently. Underinflated tires can contribute to increased wear and tear, and also reduce fuel efficiency, says Edmunds. Tires can lose air in a variety of ways, including a tiny hole, a leak on the the valve stem or an issue with the wheel on which it’s mounted, according to Popular Mechanics. In addition, changing temperatures can affect the air pressure of your tires. Tire pressure can vary 1-2 pounds per square inch (psi) for every 10-degree difference in ambient temperature, according to Goodyear. Keep in mind, it can be difficult to tell if a radial tire needs air just by looking at it, so tires should be checked.
When Should I Check?
Tires warm up when your car is moving. Air expands inside a “hot” tire, so the air pressure reading will likely not be accurate for a hot tire. Tire air pressure should be checked once a month when the tires are cold, says Edmunds. But, you may want to consider checking your tire pressure more frequently in the following instances, which may make the affect the pressure:
- If you run over a sharp object, like a nail, that can puncture the rubber.
- If you strike a curb or other object.
- If the weather suddenly changes from warm to cold.
If your car has a tire pressure sensor and the light on the dashboard is illuminated, you should check the tire pressure immediately on all four tires, says Bridgestone.
How Should I Check?
Edmunds recommends some simple steps for properly checking tire pressure:
Step 1. Purchase a tire gauge. Tire gauges are small enough to fit in your glove box, and they’re a handy tool to have. The newer digital tire gauges can be more accurate — and easier to read — than the older ones. If you don’t want to purchase a gauge, you can go to the air pump at a gas station, which usually has a gauge on the hose. That’s convenient, because if you find that your tires need air, you’re already there.
Step 2. Discover the proper air pressure for your car. Tire pressure is measured in pounds per square inch, or psi. You can often find the right psi for your vehicle on a yellow sticker inside the driver’s-side door jamb, or you can consult your owner’s manual. Remember, the ideal air pressure may be different for the front and rear tires.
Step 3. Remove the air valve cap from your tire. It’s easy to lose this little valve cap. Be sure to place it in your pocket or someplace where it will not roll away or quickly disappear.
Step 4. Press the tire gauge against the open valve stem. You will hear a hiss of air as you press down. Don’t be concerned; this is normal.
Step 5. Read the air pressure gauge. The number will appear on the dial or digital screen on the tire gauge. Compare this number with the recommended tire pressure for the tire. If it’s too low, you can add air. If the pressure is too high, you can let air out of the tire.