The Importance of Tire Pressure
With only needing to purchase new tires every 5+ years, the average consumer tends to forget about proper tire maintenance. By checking your tires for the correct pressure, you can end up saving more than just incorrect speed readings.
Problems with Incorrect Pressure
Driving with under-inflated tires will increase the tires' drag and reduce fuel efficiency. Under-inflation will also result in unequal wear and tear along with edges of the wheels. This occurs rubber begins to cave toward the center of the wheels.
Driving with over-inflated tires will reduce the surface contact between the tire and road. This will lead to poor handling, slower acceleration, and reduced stopping power. In addition, the over-inflated tires will be stiffer, and the center will wear out much quicker than the rest of the wheel.
The air pressure in your tires is susceptible to change with the coming seasons and climate. Whenever it is cold outside (i.e., winter), the tire pressure will drop. When it is hot (i.e., summer), the tire pressure will rise. Although the drops may not be too noticeable, severe damage can occur if the tire had the incorrect pressure to begin with. If a tire has a low tire pressure and is subjected to extreme cold, then the tire can become severely under-inflated. If a tire is high tire pressure and is subjected to the extreme heat, then the tire can become severely over-inflated.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
To help you maintain proper tire pressure, you should verify if your car comes equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). Beginning with model year 2004, all new vehicles sold in the United States are required to have a TPMS. Although they are handy, do not solely rely on a TPMS. A TPMS will only indicate when a tire's pressure is too low.
Correct Tire Pressure
Follow proper tire pressure guidelines based on your specific make and model. For reference, most cars, include the correct tire pressure inside a plaque on the door jam. You can also find the information, inside the owner's manual. If your car has aftermarket wheels, then the correct tire pressure may be different. You should always check your tire pressure with a high quality digital or analog gauge.
If you would like to read more about tire wear, check out our article on Different Types of Tire Wear.