Why proper tire inflation is so important
After months of meticulous research, poring over the latest information on fuel efficiency, and technology that will keep you and your family safe – you've finally purchased that spanking new vehicle.
Being the conscientious consumer that you are, you're aware that your tires, although not the most exciting part of your vehicle, are certainly one of the most important. You've mulled over the differences between those that provide optimum performance, a smooth cushion-y ride, or the most efficient return on your gas dollar.
Whether mandated in your province or not, you, the educated buyer, know that there's no better investment in your winter driving safety than a dedicated set of snow tires.
But did you know that one of the most crucial factors in your tire's ability to perform properly is maintaining the correct amount of pressure?
Smart motorists are realizing that regularly monitoring their tire pressure saves them money – reducing tire wear, fuel consumption and emissions – and helps keep them safe by drastically increasing braking and handling efficiency.
On your tire's sidewall is a set of numbers. These refer to the highest inflation pressure that particular tire is designed to hold. But that's not the one to look for during your monthly tire check.
What you want is the figure recommended for your vehicle by its manufacturer in order to make the very best of its handling characteristics. This is usually found on the edge of the driver's door, but if not, refer to the manual. Generally, this number will range from 30 to 35 psi in most passenger cars.
It's important to note that the tire's pressure should only be checked when cold – or before it's had a chance to warm up, which causes the air to expand and the pressure to increase. For best results, check first thing in the morning. Reliable tire gauges are sold at most automotive supply or hardware stores.
They're simple to use: remove the cap from the valve stem on your tire, push the gauge onto the valve and read the number that's recorded on the protruding stem or digital readout of your gauge. Add air until the number on all four tires reaches your manufacturer's recommended pressure.
Add too much air? No problem! Simply push on the valve stem until you hear the air release, then check again.
Properly Inflated tires are safer
Low air pressure is the primary cause of tire failure – which can lead to an inconvenient and time-consuming blowout, or even worse, an accident. Tires that are inflated properly wear evenly and have greater tread life.
Under inflating a tire causes it to flex more, creating a build up of heat which can cause tire failure.
Just 8 psi of under-inflation can reduce tire life by 16%, or 15,000 km. An under-inflated tire requires a greater stopping distance while braking, and dramatically alters steering and handling efficiency. You want to be sure that your tires are able to grip during a panic stop.