The logic behind it is simple - it’s a critical safety issue. Your car’s tires are the second most important safety devices on your vehicle, next to the brakes. Having incorrect tire pressure will affect your car’s cornering and braking ability, as well as affect its stability. Worst, incorrect tire pressure can cause a blowout and lead to a serious accident.
Aside from safety concerns, running with incorrect tire pressure can affect the ride of your car, and your comfort. It likewise affects fuel economy and can impact how long your tires last.
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Want to hear a confession? I often overlook checking the tire pressure. And I’m not alone. People do not regularly check tire inflation, at least not as often as recommended. Newer cars, those bought new in the last 6 years, have a gauge that lights up on your dash if your tire pressure is low. However if you drive a car manufactured before then, proper tire pressure can be a problem.
So, why is tire pressure so important???
4 Things to Keep in Mind When Checking Your Car’s Tire Pressure
1) Temperature Affects Tire Pressure. It is important to remember that tire pressure goes down 1 PSI when the ambient temperature goes down 10 degrees Fahrenheit. How is this information useful? If you have not checked your tire pressure since summer, you might be driving on under inflated tires in the winter time and this could really be dangerous. This is explained in more detail below when driving in wet conditions.
2) Tire Pressure Affects Your Tire Grip. On a warm day, your car’s traction can be improved if tires are .
slightly under inflated. On a rainy day? It can spell serious trouble.
Low tire pressure can significantly increase your chance of hydroplaning when driving on a wet surface. Hydroplaning occurs when your car encounters more water than what your tires can scatter. If the pressure on your tire is less than the pressure of the water that is pushing against your tire, the front of the wheel will force water under the tire. This causes the tire to be separated from the road surface by a thin film of water and it loses traction. And you are put in a very dangerous situation where you lose control of steering, braking and power.
3) Tire Pressure Affect Fuel Economy. This has got to do with rolling resistance which is the force that your car has to overcome in order to drive. There is an inverse relationship between your car’s tire pressure and rolling resistance. As the pressure in your tire decreases, rolling resistance increases. This means more energy (and therefore, more fuel) is required to keep your car moving.
A study conducted by Michelin Tires shows that a 14.5 PSI or 1 bar drop in tire pressure results in a 30% increase in rolling resistance. This in turn translates to 3-5% increase in fuel usage. So, to keep your car from becoming a gas guzzler, it is best to keep your tire pressure at recommended levels.
4) Tire Pressure Affects Tire Wear. Improper tire pressure will cause your car’s tires to wear faster and greatly reduce their life. In a properly inflated tire, there would be even wear. In an over inflated tire, there would be more wear on the center of the tire. On the other hand, you would notice more wear on the outsides of the tire if you run on under inflated tires.
Bottom line? It pays to be conscientious in checking tire inflation and keeping it at your car manufacturer’s recommended levels. It not only affects your safety on the road, it also saves you money in terms of gas and wear and tear on your tires.
Finally, do not forget to check the tire pressure on your spare tire, too. Believe me, it would not be funny to find your spare tire as flat as the tire you were trying to change while caught in the rain on a deserted road.