Are your tires set at the optimum inflation? Chances are they are anywhere from 8psi to 18psi less than recommended. The most common way of damaging tires is improper inflation. Low air pressure causes tires to experience irregular treadwear as well as poor vehicle handling and traction. Under inflated tires can build up excessive heat and blow out without warning.
Keeping your tires set at the manufacturer's recommended pressure is one of the easiest ways of saving gasoline, increasing tire treadlife, and ensuring safety. An Arizona Energy Office Report notes if your tires are inflated to 24 psi, and you increase the air pressure to 32 psi, your fuel mileage should increase by 3 miles per gallon (an average increase of 10%!)
Always check your air pressure and make adjustments when the tires are cold (tires have not been driven for 2 hours). Air pressure should be checked bi-weekly at the very least. This is important because as outside temperatures change, so does tire air pressure. A 10 degree drop in temperature can reduce tire pressure by 1 psi. That means if you set your pressures in the July and don't check them again until December, you could have lost several psi, decreasing fuel mileage and causing pre-mature tire wear. Also remember to check your spare tire for loss of air.
If you are unsure how to use an air pressure gauge and hose, your local tire shop should be willing to show you the correct procedure. Always use a good quality tire pressure gauge that is not on a hose. The tire gauges built into the air hoses at your local garage have generally not been maintained and can not be trusted to be accurate.
*Note: Air pressures can be "tuned," however, you should NEVER exceed the maximum pressure branded on the tire’s sidewall, and NEVER set pressures lower than recommended in the vehicle’s owners manual. Also, if you have altered your tire size from original, then the minimum pressure may need to be adjusted. Consult a rim/tire professional for correct pressures.
Your tires are the only part of your vehicle that actually touches the road when you drive. It only takes a couple of minutes of maintenance each month to keep your tires working at their best.
Check Your Air Pressure Once a Month
Incorrect air pressure is the leading cause of tire damage. To avoid tire damage, you need to check your tire's air pressure once a month.
The correct tire pressure can be found in the following places:
- The car's owner manual
- Gas tank lid
- Driver's side door's edge
- Door post
The air pressure listed on the side of your tire is NOT the correct air pressure for your vehicle. That number is the maximum air pressure for the tire.
Don't get stranded and avoid costly towing expenses. Check your air pressure on your spare regularly. Note: If you have different rims than came on your vehicle originally, make sure that the bolts on your spare tire are the correct fitting.
Failure to keep your tires properly inflated can increase wear and will have a negative effect on your vehicles handling.
When checking and adjusting tire pressure, the following should be kept in mind:
- Check the air pressure when the tire is cold - tires become hot even after driving just a mile. If you must drive to add air, check your air pressure before you leave. Air pressure changes 1-2 pounds for every 10 degrees of temperature change. Air pressure goes up in warm weather and down in cold weather.
- Tire pressure must be the same on the tires of each axle, but may be different on the front and rear axle.
- Valve caps must be tightly closed to protect the valve from dust and dirt and prevent it from leaking.
- Replace missing valve caps without delay.
Take this opportunity to inspect your tires to make sure there are no punctures and they are free of deformities.
To prevent hydroplaning and skidding, your tires must have proper tread depth. The minimum tread depth is 1/16th of an inch.
Ask anyone: the easiest way to check your tread depth is the penny test. Take a penny and place it in the tread of your tire. If part of Lincoln's head is covered by the tread, your tires have enough tread. If you can see Lincoln's entire head, you should buy a new tire.
You should also check your tire tread for uneven wear. Irregular wear shortens the life of your tires. If you think you have uneven wear, you should take you vehicle to your tire dealer.
The best way to prevent uneven wear is to have your tires rotated every 5,000 - 7,000 miles or as specified in your vehicle's owner manual.
Potential Tire Troubles
- Curbs can prove to be big trouble to your tires. Approach curbs with care; if you drive over them too fast or at the wrong angle the impact may cause the tire to crack.
- Avoid potholes or debris in the road when possible.
- Avoid fast stops and starts.
- Be sure to check your owner's manual for your vehicles maximum load. Overloading your vehicle can shorten your tire life.
Replacing Your Tires
You should replace your tires with the same type of tires that came on your vehicle original equipment. This includes tire size, type, and speed rating.