Although maintaining your vehicle might seem overwhelming, many small tasks can be achieved with little time and even less out-of-pocket expense. Tire inflation is a prime example.
Tire pressure–measured in pounds per square inch (PSI)–refers to the air in your vehicle’s tires. Maintaining adequate tire pressure is easy and painless but ensures you drive safely and comfortably. More importantly, well-pressurized tires lengthen their lifespan and save money on frequent replacements.
The Significance of Tire Pressure
The importance of regular tire care can’t be overstated. If you consistently drive on underinflated or overinflated tires, it strains them, making blowouts more likely. Also, some of your vehicles’ other systems won’t function fully if tire pressure is incorrect. What most drivers notice, however, is that commutes feel rough and uncomfortable without sufficient tire pressure (excessive noise and vibration with decreased fuel efficiency).
How to Find the Right PSI
Most new and certified used vehicles come with a placard behind the seat on the driver’s side. This chart explains the manufacturer’s guidelines for ideal inflation per each tire, including the spare. If you can’t find the chart, the data can also be looked up in the owner’s manual. It bears noting that these recommendations refer to the proper pressure when tires are cold (have been sitting for several hours unused). As they operate, tire pressure increases slightly.
Tire Pressure Maintenance
Experts advise checking tire pressure at least once a month. You can purchase a gauge for at-home use or visit a gas station and use their equipment (most have user-friendly air compressors). In addition, to help monitor tire pressure, modern vehicles have systems (TPMS) that alert you when air pressure is out of whack. Thus, if the TPMS warning light turns on, check your tire pressure, as one could be going flat.
You can also ask a mechanic to check tire pressure when performing other maintenance tasks (oil changes), and it never hurts to have tires examined regularly for uneven wear or excessive damage.
Keeping tires in top shape is one of the simplest ways to protect your vehicle. Yes, improperly inflated tires create comfort issues, but they also strain other vehicle systems and create more chances for expensive and inconvenient repairs. Finally, since inflating tires is easy and cheap, there’s no reason to put it off.