Tires are one of the most important components in your vehicle, and tire pressure determines how well your tires work. The two most common errors people make when it comes to tire pressure are calibrating the recommended pressures and topping off pressures. So today, GoodCar wants to go over some tips to help you avoid those mistakes and keep you safe on the roads.
Why Do Tires Have Recommended PSI Ratings?
Have you ever asked yourself, what PSI should my tires be? That depends! Tires have recommended PSI ratings for several reasons. First, tire pressure affects a tire's ability to grip the road. Underinflated tires can cause drag and reduce fuel economy, while overinflated tires can lead to premature wear and decreased traction.
Second, the right tire pressure is essential for maintaining control of your vehicle. Too little pressure can cause your tires to overheat and fail, while too much pressure can make your vehicle difficult to handle.
Finally, properly inflated tires help ensure that your car rides comfortably and smoothly. Unevenly inflated tires can cause a bumpy ride and increased wear on suspension components. So, it seems good tire PSI is pretty important.
How to Tell What My Recommended Tire Pressure Should Be
Like most drivers, you probably don't think about your car's normal tire pressure very often. But properly inflated tires are critical to your safety and the longevity of your vehicle. So what should your tire pressure be?
There are a few ways to find out. First, you can check your owner's manual. Most vehicles have a placard on the driver's door jamb or inside the glove compartment that lists the recommended tire pressure for both front and rear tires.
Another way to determine the correct tire pressure is to look at the sidewall of your tires. Check for a P (passenger car) or LT (light truck) designation followed by a number. This number is the maximum inflation pressure for the tire carrying its rated load.
You can also use an online tool like Tire Rack to enter your vehicle make, model, and year to find the recommended tire pressure for your specific car.
If you're still unsure, stop by your local auto parts store or service station and ask one of their experts, “what pressure should my tires be?” They should be able to look up the correct tire pressure for your car and help you get your tires properly inflated.
How Can I Tell if My Tire Pressure is Low?
If your vehicle is equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitor (TPM), you will receive a warning signal when your tire pressure falls below the recommended level. If your vehicle does not have a TPM, you can check your tire pressure with a tire pressure gauge, which will tell you what tire pressure is too low. Low tire pressure can cause changes in vehicle performance, such as decreased fuel efficiency, increased braking distance, and reduced traction.
What Do I Do if My TPM System and Tire Pressure Gauge Do Not Match?
If your TPM system and tire pressure gauge do not match, you might need to take your vehicle to a dealership and have them test the system out. While not the most common problem many drivers face, the chances are that in this particular situation, your TPM system may need to be recalibrated.
Does Each Season Affect My Tire Pressure?
A common question with a not-so-simple answer: does the season really affect my tire pressure?
The quick answer is yes – but only slightly, and only in certain cases. Here's a more detailed explanation.
As temperatures drop, so does the air pressure in your tires. That's why it's important to check your tire pressure regularly in the colder months. Most carmakers recommend checking tire pressure once a month. But what is tire pressure supposed to be? Ask your mechanic what your car’s tires need, and they can help you reach that number and stay there.
Underinflated tires can lead to decreased fuel efficiency and increased wear and tear on your tires, so it's important to keep an eye on them. If you notice your tires are low, add air until they reach the recommended psi for your car. You can usually find this information on a sticker inside your driver's side doorjamb or in your owner's manual.
In general, you should inflate your tires to the manufacturer's recommended psi levels for both summer and winter driving. However, if you live in an area with particularly cold winters, you may want to inflate your tires slightly more than usual to account for the decrease in air pressure as the temperature drops. This is especially important if you do a lot of driving on icy or snowy roads.
If you have any questions about how seasonality affects your tire pressure or if you need help checking or inflating your tires, stop by your local Tires.
How to Tell if I Have a Tire Leak?
There are a few tell-tale signs that you have a tire leak. If you notice your tires are losing air pressure more quickly than usual, or if you see a puddle of water or other fluid under your parked car, you likely have a leak. You can also check your tires for leaks by using soap and water. Simply dab some soapy water on the suspected areas of your tire and look for bubbles. If you see any, you know you have a hole in your tire.
What Should I Do if I Find a Nail in My Tire?
If you find a nail in your tire, the best thing to do is to remove the tire and take it to a nearby tire or repair shop to have them patch it up for you. If the puncture is small, you may be able to patch it up yourself with a tire repair kit. You should never drive on a tire with debris, like a nail, as it could experience a catastrophe while driving.
If I Buy New Tires, Will the Tire Pressure Be the Same as My Old Tires?
If you're considering buying new tires, you may wonder if the tire pressure will be the same as your old tires. The answer is maybe. It depends on the brand of the tire and the model of the tire. Some brands and models of tires have different recommended tire pressures. So, before you buy new tires, check the recommended tire pressure for the specific brand and model of tire you're considering. Ideally, you want the pressure rating for all your tires to be the same to allow for better performance and a more comfortable, stable ride.
While GoodCar knows that tire pressure isn't the most glamorous of topics, it is extremely important. We hope you found this information useful, and if you have any tips you would like to share on your own, we'd love to hear them!