Everything You Need To Know About Tyre Pressures
Few people have the luxury of time to work on their own vehicles. If you are a car enthusiast, you might be able to make upgrades or fix your car yourself. But, if you are just using your vehicle for a convenient way to get around, chances are you have little knowledge of performing repair and maintenance work. However, if you want to protect your investment, you need to know basic car maintenance practices. Aside from avoiding expensive repair fees at your mechanic, it can also save you time and allow you to use your car longer.
One useful task you can perform is checking and setting its tyre pressure. Keeping your car tyres properly inflated is a critical part of tyre maintenance. Tyres that contain the correct amount of air pressure last longer, give comfortable driving and contribute to vehicle safety. Meanwhile, driving on underinflated tyres can lead to tyre failures and negative handling behaviour. Here, you will learn more about the importance of maintaining tyre pressure and how to properly check the air in your car tyres.
The Importance Of Maintaining Tyre Pressure
Few people have given much thought to tyre pressure because modern car tyres and wheels are usually good at holding air inside them. But, did you know that the air pressure inside the tyre supports the weight of your vehicle and not the tyre itself? Tyre pressure immensely affects vehicle performance. It influences your car’s driving comfort, directional stability, cornering and braking grip, and overall handling behaviour. This is why it is very important to maintain proper tyre pressure. Without it, all of the above-mentioned characteristics impact negatively the vehicle performance.
Beyond punctures and other unusual causes, tyres are naturally bound to lose air. The primary component of tyres is rubber. This natural material tends to allow some air to escape slowly from within the tyre. Although today’s advancements help reduce the quantity of air that escapes, it does not totally prevent it. Eventually, all tyres will go low on air pressure. Consequently, these underinflated tyres will become hotter leading to a blow-out. In the worst cases, the person driving the car with underinflated tyres will not be able to control the steering and braking functions of the car, making the ride dangerous for everyone in the vehicle.
There are other reasons why tyre pressures should always be up to their specifications. Tyres are expensive. By driving on well-maintained tyres, you can maximise their lifespan and make the most out of your money. Additionally, the mileage of tyres will also be negatively affected if you drive them underinflated. As a result, you will have to pay higher fuel costs.
What Is A Tyre Pressure Gauge?
To be able to properly check your tyre’s pressure, the first thing you need to do is purchase a tyre pressure gauge. You should always have one inside your vehicle for easy access; you never know when you might need it. Tyre pressure gauges are inexpensive. A pencil-type gauge that costs less than $5 is good enough to start with. They are also slim, easy to carry, and lightweight. A common pencil tyre gauge has a range of 5 to 50 PSI, which can cover 99% of what cars and light trucks will need. You can also get digital gauges. They are more expensive, some costing up to $200, but they are user-friendly and more accurate. Whatever type of tyre pressure gauge you end up buying, just be sure to keep them close at all times. If you own more than one car or manage a fleet, it’s best to get a pressure gauge for each one of them.
When And How Often Should I Check My Tyres?
Tyres should be regularly checked, at least once a month. However, if your tyres are older and more frequently used, they are more prone to losing air and should be checked more often. Another critical piece of information you need to know is that tyre pressures should only be checked when the tyres are cold. The rubber should have stopped long enough for the rubber to be at the same temperature as its surroundings. This is because when you are driving, tyres heat up quickly from rolling friction and the air inside them also heats up, expands, and increases in pressure. Checking tyres after driving gives an inaccurate reading and causes more air to escape.
The most recommended time to check tyre pressures is early in the morning, when your vehicle has been unused overnight, and before the sun has started to heat the tyres. Even if a car has sat out for a long time, but under hot weather, it will still read a 5 to 10 PSI higher than if it was cold.
How Will I Know The Correct Tyre Pressure?
It is standard for all vehicles to have a Tyre Pressure Label found inside the vehicle. It is usually found on the driver’s door jamb, left rear door jamb, or on the fuel filler door. The label will show ‘cold tyre pressure’ in both PSI and KPA. Specified pressures for your front, rear, and spare tyres will be listed. Front and rear tyres could vary in their recommended pressure. And, the spare tyre pressure will most likely be higher. Some labels will also indicate an optional pressure that can be used for greater loads or higher speeds.
The sidewalls of your tyres should also have pressure indicated on them. This number is the recommended maximum air pressure that the tyre can hold. You should never use them as a tyre pressure guide. This could lead to an unpleasant situation.
Do TPMS-Equipped Vehicles Still Require Regular Pressure Checks?
As a precautionary measure, all cars and light trucks manufactured since 2008 have a Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS). However, although required by law, not every system functions similarly. Some will indicate ‘low tyre’ without telling you which one it is, while others will tell you which tyre is low. This is why we still strongly suggest you check tyre pressures at least once a month. If you make a habit out of it, you can be sure you’ll never get caught with a TPMS alert in the middle of the road and away from a source of much-needed compressed air.
How To Properly Check Tyre Pressure
After buying a gauge and knowing when to do it and what the specified pressures should be, you’re ready to do the actual tyre pressure check. You may begin checking one side and go through each tyre in a clockwise manner or follow your own way. What’s important is to make sure that each tyre has been checked, including the spare. Next, remove the valve stem cap and keep it somewhere safe. You’ll need to put them back later to keep the dirt out of the valves. Then, press the gauge into the valve stem and check the reading. Remember to keep the gauge parallel to the stem to prevent too much air from escaping. Based on the reading, you can decide if you will need to add air to your tyre. If you are checking your tyre pressures near a source of compressed air, it will be more convenient to add air before proceeding to check the next tyre. However, if you will be placing air later, you will want to take note of all the readings.
How To Add Air To Tyres
Since you already know the existing and the recommended pressures for your tyres, you’re ready to add compressed air to the tyres which read low. Start by pushing the air chuck into the valve stem, keeping it aligned so that you’re not releasing air. Quickly add the air for a few seconds and check the reading on your gauge. Keep in mind that tyres fill up quickly, so don’t spend too much time adding air to avoid overinflating it. Just keep adding air repeatedly, a few seconds at a time, until you reach the recommended pressure.
One more thing to note is that an overinflated tyre is just as dangerous as an underinflated one. Never put a little ‘extra’ to be on the safe side. This will only lead to problems with vehicle handling and steering, and your tyres will wear out faster. Just follow the pressures recommended by the car manufacturer. And, if you think that one of your tyres needs air more frequently than the others, take it to the tyre shop near you to check for leaks. You may need to have it repaired or replaced before it causes more damage.
If you want to know more about checking tyre pressures and car maintenance, talk to our friendly staff at Tyres Now. We are happy to share useful information about tyres and how you can take better care of them. We also offer a variety of products and services that will help minimise natural tyre wear and ensure road safety.