There is always the underlying question as to what tire pressure is recommended for your type of vehicle. A lot of drivers think that the maximum is always best, so they inflate their tires based on the maximum PSI (pounds per square inch) indicated on the sidewall. However, that is not always the case – the maximum is never the optimum. Having the correct tire pressure is important in ensuring an efficient, comfortable, and safe drive. It will maximize the lifespan of your tires and also help you save money by not having to go through unnecessary tire replacements. Luckily, keeping your tires inflated without the need of professionals is easy.
How do you find the correct tire pressure for your vehicle? New vehicles are designed to have a placard located on the driver-side door behind the seat. This placard lists the appropriate inflation pressure for each tire. If your vehicle has a spare tire, this information will also be provided. The numbers listed on the doorpost are the ones recommended by the manufacturer.
The other way to check for the recommended tire pressure is in the owner’s manual – there is often information in the manual where you can find the correct pressure level. You may also ask the manufacturer for some guidelines to check what pressure is appropriate.
Importance of Proper Inflation
The recommended numbers are the ones that must be measured first thing in the morning, before starting your vehicle, for the cold tire inflation pressure. As you drive, the tires heat up and the pressure will normally increase a few pounds per square inch (psi). Knowing the pressure when the tires are cold vs. warm makes a difference.
Cold tire – lower pressure
Warm/Hot tire – higher pressure
Depending on the size of your tires, the difference could range from 4 to 6 psi.
Why do you need to know this information? Safety is the most important reason why your tire pressure must always be kept at the recommended level. If you’re driving with overinflated or underinflated tires, it can cause a blowout. This leads to loss of vehicle control and worse things could happen.
If your tires are not inflated properly, most advanced safety and driver assistance functions will fail to operate at their optimum level.
Tires that are at the recommended pressure level provide drivers with the best balance of ride quality, tire life, fuel economy, and handling prowess. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driving on underinflated tires costs about 0.2% in efficiency. That is for each pound of pressure the tires are under the recommended value. So, if you are at 10 pounds below the required pressure, 2% of your fuel economy is lost. Underinflated tires also lead to damaging heat buildup and significantly accelerated tire wear.
Most drivers confuse the recommended tire pressure with the maximum value. Below the manufacturer’s details, somewhere on the sidewall, you can find “Max. Press. 35 PSI. ” That is the number that tells you what is the maximum cold pressure required for the vehicle to carry its maximum allowable capacity. Take note that filling your tires up to their maximum pressure on a daily basis is not advisable and a terrible idea.
What happens if your tires are inflated to their maximum PSI?
- Changes in handling characteristics – overinflated tires can’t give as much pressure to the sidewall. You will see superior cornering and could potentially increase the risk of a braking threshold.
- Decreases tires’ lifespan – inflating your tires to their maximum also increases the wear at the center of your tires. It will also reduce the traction and can cause a blowout
Overall, driving on overinflated tires affects your vehicle’s handling, increases the wear on the center of the tire, potentially reduces braking efficiency, and creates a harsher ride.
Remember that when your tires are inflated to the recommended PSI, you are guaranteed a safe and smooth ride every time. Plus, you also get to enjoy their optimum life and performance.
A good rule of thumb is to check your tire pressure every time you fill up for gas, every 30 days or every 10-degree change in weather temperature.
If you want to make sure that your tires are at their recommended pressure level, stop by Auto Warehouse.