Tires are the most important safety feature of your car, but often they are the most neglected part in auto maintenance. Many car owners elect to inflate their tires themselves which can result in over/under inflation while others may not regulate the tire pressure.
Properly inflated tires will save you a lot of headache. Poorly inflated tires will wear out quickly, consume more fuel, cause accidents, rougher rides, increased emissions and difficulties in handling the car.
Studies have shown that due to tire under/over inflation 260,000 accidents happen every year. Due to this statistics, Congress has enacted the Trend Act which has the Mandatory tire Pressure monitoring system. The system triggers a warning light if tires drop below preset inflation threshold of between 25-30% of the cold PSI rating of the tire.
However, tire inflation is the most neglected item in auto maintenance. Many car owners elect to inflate their tires themselves which can result to over inflation or under inflation. While others may not regulate their tire pressure.
How to get the correct tire pressure
The correct tire pressure is usually shown on the owner’s manual, the placard (or sticker) that is attached to the car door jam, glove box or fuel door. You can also consult the car manufacturer manual or local dealer for proper inflation.
Never use the pressure that is posted on the tire itself. This is the maximum pressure that the tire is designed to run.
Properly inflated tires can give you 3.3% increase in fuel economy. Under inflated tires feels like riding a bicycle on wet cement and this causes you to use a lot of strength in rolling. The same case happens to a car when it has low pressure on its tires, this situation compromises your fuel consumption.
Dangers and cost impact of poor tire pressure
Underinflated tires have higher rolling resistance which can lead to fuel economy. They wear more rapidly at the outer edges of the tread and need to be replaced sooner than properly inflated tires. It pays to look after those tires!
Having low tire pressure also compromises on your control of the car when driving on high speed and stopping distance. You might have problems controlling the car on high speed which can be very dangerous to you and other road users.
Low tire pressures increase braking distances and provide less responsive steering and handling. This can be especially dangerous when a sudden evasive maneuver is needed to avoid a collision. Low pressures also allow tire sidewalls to flex excessively, which generates heat. Moderate heat accelerates tire tread wear; high heat can lead to loss of tread segments or blowouts.
You should aim to check your tire pressure every two weeks or at least monthly. You can easily check your tire pressure at most garages, or use an at home kit.
If you notice any damage or deformities in your tires, be sure to replace them as soon as possible to prevent any likelihood of an accident.