A typical air-filled tire loses about three pounds per square inch every month. Unlike a nitrogen-filled tire, the standard air-fill has oxygen molecules that make up 21 percent of the air and so your tire’s air pressure.
With time, these tiny molecules escape through the tires’ rubber because of their small size and leave your tire underinflated.
An optimally inflated tire all the time assures that your tires last longer, don’t slide or slip and provide better maneuverability. For these reasons, it’s essential to check on your tire’s pressure regularly.
You can use your car’s built-in tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to keep yourself updated about your tire's pressure. However, checking the air pressure manually is just as quick and inexpensive.
Achieving the Optimal Tire Pressure
When understanding the optimal air pressure for your tire, always remember that no two tires are the same. Even two tires of the same size and type can need different air pressure based on the car's build.
The best way to assure you use the optimal pressure is by referring to the owner’s manual, which contains the recommended air pressure for your build.
It is important to note that some builds require different air pressure for the front and rear tires.
If not the owner’s manual, you will also find a placard placed on the pillar of your car’s front door, which states the optimal pressure for your vehicle.
Other places you can look at include the trunk lid, glove compartment, or the fuel hatch.
Note: Most builds will have a maximum air pressure limit on the owner’s manual and the placard. These should not be confused with the “optimal” air pressure, which is just the right amount you need for adequate loading capacity, traction, and stability.
Overreaching the maximum pressure would mean your tires are overinflated. This can cause your tires' outer, middle areas to pop out and rub against the road surface more. This often leads to excessive wear and tear, instability, and sliding.
When overinflated, the tires become more susceptible to blowouts as well. Therefore, you must maintain just the right pressure, which means not letting the tire deflate too low.
Using Your TPMS
Most vehicles manufactured in the last ten years will have a TPMS. This sensor is located on your dashboard, typically in the top middle. It automatically detects and notifies when a tire’s pressure is low by at least 25 percent of the recommended amount.
If you are unsure about your car having a TPMS, check for a glowing warning symbol with an exclamation mark on the dashboard. Some builds may have a car symbol with “check your pressure” written below.
Using a Tire Pressure Gauge
For older builds, you can use a tire pressure gauge. You can get either a digital gauge that runs on a battery or the traditional stick-shaped one. Both are inexpensive and easy to use.
- Step 1: If you recently drove the car more than a mile, only check the air pressure when the tires have been at rest for at least three hours. Because moving tires come in contact with friction, which affects the pressure, you should check it when the tires are cold.
- Step 2: Refer to the recommended optimal pressure for your particular build. Your car may need different air pressure for the front and rear tires, in which case you should check the tires with two recommendations in mind.
- Step 3: The gauge hose will go into the tire’s valve; make sure you keep the valve caps in a secure place, so you don’t lose them.
- Step 4: Securely press the hose into the valve stem and wait until you hear a hissing sound.
- Step 5: Note down the PSI reading for each tire and evaluate it against the recommended tire pressure.
Maintaining the right tire pressure is the key to driving smoothly and safely. Make sure you pay attention to your tire pressure.