Low car tire pressure can cost you money by increasing fuel consumption and causing you to buy new tires more often. Use these tips to avoid the unnecessary costs.
Chances are good that you’re looking for ways to reduce your gas consumption. One good way to increase gas mileage and lengthen the life of your tires is to keep an eye on your car tire pressure.
How does car tire pressure affect fuel economy?
A tire with high air pressure will be tight, so that less rubber adheres to the road. Low air pressure means that more of your tire’s surface will grip the road, causing more friction. That friction can dangerously overheat your tires and cause (at worst) an accident or (at best) extra wear on expensive tires. As more and more tire surface meets the road, the sidewalls can be destroyed.
How do I know when my tire pressure is low?
Folks with cars manufactured after 2007 can easily see when the air in their tires is low. A “check tire pressure” indicator will appear. If you have an older car, check your tire pressure if:
- Your tires always squeal when turning corners
- Your tread seems to be wearing out prematurely
- The outdoor temperature is cold
What should my tire pressure be?
Usually, you’ll find the optimum tire pressure number printed on a sticker affixed to the inside edge of the driver’s side door. The number will be followed by the letters psi, or pounds per square inch. About 35 psi is the recommended tire pressure for most cars today.
Too much air is bad, too
Don’t go to the other extreme and over-inflate, or you’ll have a different set of problems. For instance, your ride will become more jarring as tires absorb less impact. Also, you’ll lose traction in slippery weather if your tire pressure is too high, since less of the tire’s surface touches the road. Don’t inflate to the “Max Cold Press” number you’ll find on the side of the tire. That’s the maximum pressure recommended by the car’s manufacturer, not the optimal pressure.
How do I inflate my tires?
To inflate your tires, drive in to any gas station, find the air pump, and park as closely to the pump as possible. Unscrew the cap on your tire valve, affix the air nozzle, and keep the air flowing until the tire is properly inflated. The fee, if any, should be minimal.
Pressure changes with the seasons
Finally, remember that tire pressure changes with the season. Hot weather brings higher tire pressure, while Canada’s icy winters reduce it. Be extra vigilant in cold weather.