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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Tire Pressure

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Image courtesy of Flickr
What It Is?

Tire pressure is the amount of air in your tires and is measured in PSI (pounds per square inch).  A pressure gauge is used to measure each tire’s PSI. It is strongly recommended that car owners check their tire pressure once a month.

Why Check Pressure?

Correctly pressurized tires are essential to safely operating your car. A car’s ability to maneuver properly, such as turning and braking steadiness, is reliant on the tires having the right amount of air in them. Tires with inappropriate tire pressure can also cause traffic accidents due to complete tire failure. Another bad side effect of neglecting to check your tire pressure is shorter wear life of your tires and a decline in fuel efficiency.

Unchecked Tires

If tire pressure is not checked with a pressure gauge your tires can have either too much or too little air in them. While both situations are less than ideal, they lead to different consequences. Tires with PSI higher than is appropriate will make less contact with the ground. When your tires aren’t able to make sturdy, consistent contact with the road you will have less traction. This can lead to unreliable braking distances and very bumpy rides. 

Low tire pressure leads to more of your tires touching the road. More contact means more traction and friction. As the amount of friction created between your tires and the ground increases, the likelihood of overheating your tires also grows. Tires will wear down dramatically sooner and the chances of tread separation sky-rocket.

Finding Recommended Tire Pressure Level

The maximum allowable tire pressure listed on the tires you purchase is not necessarily the recommended PSI for use on your particular vehicle. To be certain your tires have the correct amount of air in them, refer to the manufacturer recommendations located in your owner’s manual. More often than not, the maximum allowable tire pressure statistics found on tires are slightly higher than what is recommended by vehicle manufacturers.

The correct pressure gauge is also important. The popular and inexpensive pen shaped tire gauges can give inaccurate readings based on how small and simple the small tool is. Car owners should invest in the more reliable and easier to read digital or analog dial pressure gauge tools. The process of checking tire PSI is simple and anyone who can operate a vehicle is capable of accomplishing a tire pressure check. However, if you are unsure or uncomfortable with your results consult a mechanic.