Proper tire maintenance will help ensure your driving safety! Tire pressure helps tires run as they are intended to. Their entire performance depends on them running at the correct psi levels.
But, what tire pressure is too high, and what is considered low tire pressure? What happens if you exceed the recommended levels?
Well, let us guide you through everything you need to know about tire pressure.
Where to Find psi on Tire?
All information related to the recommended psi for tires is located on the tire's sidewall. On the sidewall, you will find a small section that states "max press". Usually, manufacturers portray the maximum pressure in both kPa and psi.
However, running your tires at max psi is not ideal either. That number simply shows the tire's utmost load durability at those pressure levels. Slightly lower variations from the maximum tire pressure are ideal, but straying too far from this number will result in underinflated tires.
Neither underinflated nor overinflated tires are good for the tires or your vehicle.
What Causes Low Tire Pressure?
Driving on low tire pressure is never ideal. When psi levels drop below the recommended pressure, tires start to experience some unpleasant issues related to under-inflation.
However, tires can become under-inflated for many reasons. Yet, the two main issues that car tire pressure to drop are tire damage and temperature changes.
A pinhole leak will cause air to seep out of the tire slowly. Unlike bigger punctures or other types of damage, slow leaks do not deflate the tires immediately. If you notice that the tire cannot hold air as it should, have it checked for nails or pinhole punctures.
Changes in outside temperatures also affect tires. For every 10degrees Fahrenheit, tire air pressure changes by 1 psi. This is a normal process, which usually does not cause issues with car tire psi levels. It can only be a problem if the tires are not properly inflated to begin with.
Lastly, it is important to mention that tires lose their normal tire pressure over time. For this reason, you should check your tire pressure at least monthly to prevent any issues from arising.
How to Check Tire Pressure?
Checking tire pressure is not hard. All you need is a tire pressure gauge.
However, how you go about the process can make a world of difference. It is important that the air pressure gauge is used as intended and that the tire pressure is measured at the correct time.
We are here to walk you through the process, so you can make sure you are running your vehicle with the ideal tire pressure levels.
Make Sure Your Tires are Cold
Tire inflation should be checked when the tires are cold. A good psi for tires can only be measured before the tires are in use, as driving on them creates heat build-up that can result in incorrect results when reading tire pressure. Inspecting tire pressure when cold gives the most accurate reading.
A tire is consered cold when it has not been in use for at least three hours. Ultimately, if the vehicle was only used for less than a mile. Anything more than that can result in the tire gauge incorrectly reading higher tire pressure levels.
In other words, the best time to check tire pressure is the morning, before the vehicle is driven.
Find the Recommended Tire Pressure
What is normal tire pressure? There is no simple answer to this as it greatly depends on the tire size and type. However, both tire and automotive manufacturers have made it easy to find information about optimum tire pressure levels for your specific vehicle.
Either you can check tire pressure on the tire's sidewall, where it states "MAX PRESS" or look for the info in your car. Even if you don't have its owner's manual, you can find a label in the driver-side door jamb. This label shows the recommended tire psi levels for the front and rear tires.
Check Your Tire Pressure
Tire pressure gauges provide the most accurate readings when checking tire pressure. Purchasing one is a good investment as it will help you improve tire maintenance efficiency.
How to Use a Tire Pressure Gauge?
Using a tire pressure tool is not that difficult. There are just a few steps you need to learn whether your tires are running on correct, too low, or too high tire pressure levels.
First, remove the valve cap of one tire and place the tire pressure gauge onto the valve stem. Press down until you don't hear the hissing sound anymore. At this point, the gauge will show you the psi levels of the tire.
How to Read a Tire Pressure Gauge?
There are two types of gauges available for purchase. The way they portray results differs a bit.
When you use a standard or manual tire pressure gauge, the air pressure inside the tire will push out a bar from the gauge's bottom. You can read the psi levels by checking the measurements etched into the bar.
On the other hand, a digital gauge is much easier to read. The tire pressure reading will simply appear on the device's screen.
Inflate Tires to the Correct Tire Pressure
Now that you know how to check tire air pressure levels, you need to top off the tire with pressurized air. Brining the tires to optimal tire pressure means adding or removing air from within the tire.
However, to go about this process, you must know how to properly inflate your tires. Keep reading to learn more!
How to Inflate Tires?
- Remove the valve stem cap from the tire (don't lose it!)
- Attach the nozzle of an air pump or air compressor to the valve stem and seal it (with the mechanism on the nozzle head)
- If air escapes when you turn on the air pump/compressor, stop and try again until it is sealed properly
- Turn on your device and add air to inflate the tire (keep checking the build-in gauge, or manually check the tire every 5-10 seconds while filling it)
- When you reach normal tire psi levels, turn off the compressor/pump, remove the nuzzle and replace the valve stem cap
- If you accidentally added too much air, you can remove some by depressing the center valve pin
How Often Should You Check Your Tire Pressure?
Tire pressure should be checked at least once a month. This will make sure you are not driving with low tire pressure, which can lead to other problems and potential tire damage. Maintaining good tire pressure levels should be part of your regular tire maintenance.
Hot vs Cold Tire Pressure
The recommended pressure on the tire's sidewall points to its cold air pressure levels. If you check your tires after driving, you will only be able to read their so-called hot psi levels.
It might seem silly, but the average tire psi greatly varies when the tires are cold or hot.
This is because of heat build-up occurring while the tires are in motion, which cannot be prevented. If you do not own an air pump and have to fill up your tires at a gas station, aim to top off the tires 4 psi above the recommended cold max psi.
This will even out once the tires are cooled down. If possible, check the tires once more the next morning.
Tire Pressure in Summer vs Winter
Winter and summer tire pressure levels will also differ. This is due to colder temperatures reducing air pressure levels inside the tires.
So, what inflation pressure do you need in different weather conditions?
During the summer months, using the tire manufacturers' recommended optimal pressure levels is ideal. However, in colder conditions tire inflation should be about 3 psi above the levels suggested for summer weather. Since tire pressure drops 1 psi for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit, this will make sure your winter tires won't be under-inflated.
How to Check Tire Pressure Without a Gauge?
In case you do not have access to a proper tire pressure gauge, don't worry. There are a couple of methods you can use to determine the approximate air pressure levels of your tires. While a pressure gauge is more accurate, these methods will still give you a good estimate and guide you in the right direction.
So, how is tire pressure measured without a gauge?
Here are a few tips:
- Press down on the tire with your hand to see how soft it is. Softer tires have their tire pressure too low.
- Visually inspect the tire and if you see flattening it needs air
- If your tires a flatter than usual when loading cargo into the vehicle, they should be inflated
- Excessive road noise and vibrations can be another indicator of the tires needing more air
Over Inflated Tires Symptoms
Tires inflated over their recommended pressure can be dangerous. They might provide better fuel economy, but you will sacrifice too much. Here are the dangers of overinflated tires:
- Minimized traction with the reduced road contact area
- Irregular center tread wear
- Increased driving vibration levels
Under Inflated Tires Symptoms
When the inflation pressure is too low, your tires will experience some negative side effects. These include:
- Higher rolling resistance ruining fuel economy and the vehicle's fuel efficiency
- Premature wear and excessive wear on the tire's shoulder tread areas
- Diminished handling and braking capability
- Increased road noise and vibration levels during the drive
How Much Does Tire Pressure Increase When Hot?
Tire pressure increases in the summer months, which is due to air expanding because of warmth. Tire inflation pressure rises by 1 psi for every 10 Fahrenheit of temperature change. Because of this, it is important to check tire psi when big jumps in temperature happen.
Why Does the Air Pressure Inside the Tires of a Car Increase When the Car is Driven?
When the car is driven, tires generate heat. While might not result in heat build-up along the tire, it will warm the tire during its performance. This warmth allows the air within the tire to expand, increasing psi. Because of this, the correct psi levels offer a bit of wiggle room for air pressure.
What psi Should My Tires Be?
An average passenger tire will come with a recommended tire pressure of 30-35 psi. This greatly depends on the size and type of tires run on the vehicle. However, you can find the manufacturer's recommended tire pressure on the tire's sidewall and on the vehicle's driver-side door jamb.
How Long Can You Drive with Low Tire Pressure?
Driving with low air pressure for too long will damage the tires, as well as the rims. For this reason, tires should not be run for longer than 50 miles or 1 hour when they are underinflated. Within this period, lasting tire damage does not yet occur.