Tire pressure and checking it regularly is more important than you might think. It affects many things related to the operation and safety of your vehicle, as well as the protection of the environment.
Learn why tires are so important, how often to check tire pressure and how the air pressure in them affects your ride here.
Do You Take Care of Your Tires and Tire Pressure?
Owners of cars and trucks often neglect a straightforward task, which can save a lot of money and significantly impact safe and energy-efficient driving. When was the last time you checked your tire pressure?
Modern cars already have built-in equipment that warns you of inadequate tire pressure, but for trucks, the experts advise that you check the pressure at least once a week.
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard law requires all 2007 and above model vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less to have a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).
If you have an older model of car, you need to check the tire pressure by yourself. If you’re unsure how often to check tire pressure, it’s recommended to do this at least once a month.
It’s also critical to check the air pressure before driving long journeys or putting a heavier load in the vehicle, because the rear tires, in particular, are more loaded in this case.
What Is TPMS and How Does It Work?
TPMS stands for tire pressure monitoring system. As the name suggests, the system is designed to control tire pressure, reduce vehicle emissions, and increase safety.
The system informs the driver if the tire pressure is more than 25 percent lower than the value recommended for the vehicle and tire type. The driver can then stop in time and avoid a potentially dangerous situation.
The system notifies each deviation from the set value, which the driver enters according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It most often also informs how urgent the intervention is (whether it is possible to continue driving or not).
However, TPMS, like any other system, should be properly serviced, preferably in specialized workshops.
Direct and Indirect TPMS Control
TPMS systems are divided into two groups: direct and indirect. Direct systems have sensors built inside the wheel, attached to the rim or inside the tires.
Indirect systems use ABS or ESP systems; they calculate if the pressure is different from the recommended one based on the differences in the volume and speed of rotation of the tires.
Direct systems are more reliable and recognize changes in tire pressure faster and more accurately. Indirect ones often only report incorrect pressure but not which tire is the problematic one.
False alarms are also common, as miscalculations of the system can be influenced by many other factors.
What Is the Fastest Way To Get Information About the Recommended Pressure for Your Vehicle?
If your vehicle model is older than 2007 and you don’t have TPMS in your car, the information on the recommended pressure in a passenger car is given on a plate or sticker. This is usually placed on the inside of the driver’s door and sometimes inside the fuel door. You can also find the information in the vehicle manual.
What Happens if Tire Pressure Is Too Low or Too High?
When tires do not have the correct pressure, they wear unevenly. If your tires are under-inflated, the outer edges, in particular, wear out more.
Low tire pressure affects your steering response, driving stability and also leads to higher fuel consumption and the release of harmful gases into the environment. The lifespan of a tire is reduced by at least 20 percent and you’ll get longer stopping distances. In fact, underinflated tires are the most common cause of tire failure.
Excessive pressure in the tires is also not good, as the middle part of the tread of the wheel wears down faster than the rest of the tire. With too much air pressure, the tire is more sensitive to obstacles on the road and can puncture easily. Excessive pressure also puts a strain on the car’s chassis, which can lead to various component failures.
In any case, tire wear is increased, which also leads to the risk of blowouts and premature purchases of new ones. This all leads to unnecessary additional costs for you.
If you are one of those drivers who likes to step on the gas, be even more aware of your tire pressure since there are even more drastic consequences of improper tire pressure at high speeds. The tires at the speed of 75 miles per hour wear down twice as fast as at the speeds of 50 miles per hour.
What Are the Reasons for Rapid Changes in Tire Pressure?
If you notice a loss of tire pressure that’s more than usual (0.2 bar per month or above), you should visit your car mechanic service to fix the problem.
Here are some reasons why your tires might be losing pressure more than normal:
- You could have some small cuts or punctures on your tires.
- Valves are often the cause of abnormal pressure loss. They are responsible for the airtightness of the inside of the tire. Inspect the valves to see if they are properly attached or perhaps damaged. Most valves are made from rubber, so they age over time. Therefore, it is recommended that you replace the valves often, once or twice a year should be fine.
- High speeds can damage tires, causing air to leak.
- Damaged rims and wheel corrosion can lead to tire air loss. In this situation, it’s best to replace the wheel, though you may be able to repair it if the damage is small.
- Tire bead impairment will allow air to escape. If a piece of debris gets between the tire and the rim, it will lead to a slow deflation.
You should know that all car tires lose tire pressure over time. Standard cases of tire pressure loss could be caused by osmosis and temperature changes. Cold weather makes the air inside the tire condense, thus making it deflate more rapidly.
How To Properly Check Tire Pressure
- You will need a manometer. Air compressors at gas stations and service workshops are usually equipped with manometers, but you can buy a small manual manometer at a car parts store to use at home.
- Make sure your car is standing on a level surface and move it if necessary.
- Always check the tire pressure when the tires are cold. The pressure increases at the same time as the air temperature in the tires. The tires get quite hot while driving, and so does the air in them. So check your tire pressure before you’re going for a drive or at least 3 hours after the last drive. You should never reduce the pressure while the tires are hot.
- Insert the pressure gauge into the tire valve.
- The meter will pop out and show a number that matches the internal pressure.
The hissing sound is the air coming out of the tire. If you don’t keep the meter in the valve for too long, it shouldn’t have a strong effect on the pressure.
- Compare the measured PSI value with the recommended bar value.
If the bar value is above the recommended level, release some air until the values match. If the bar value is lower, add air until it reaches the correct level.
- Check the pressure on all tires, including the spare tire, if you have one.
- When checking the tire pressure, at the same time, check how much the tires are worn down and if they have cracks, cuts or other warning signs that indicate possible problems. It’s ideal to change these as soon as possible.
- When the tire pressure is as recommended by the manufacturer, tighten the valve cap.
- Valve caps must be fitted at all times, and valve stems must be clean and undamaged.
Most drivers don’t pay enough attention to their tire pressure status or how often to check tire pressure, but it’s essential to check your tire pressure regularly. All vehicle owners are advised to check their tire pressure at least once a month, as well as before and after each long journey.
Even in ideal driving conditions, tires slowly release air. Tire pressure loss becomes faster at higher temperatures, when speeding and other factors depending on your vehicle and style of driving.
For your safety on the road and also for the safety of the drivers near you, do not forget to check your tire pressure regularly as recommended, at least once per month. The drivers of vans and larger vehicles should do so every 14 days. This will also help to save money on unnecessary additional costs for your tires and wheels.
If you have sudden and high tire pressure problems, make contact with your nearest car expert, as it could be something wrong with the tire itself.