Monday, February 4, 2013

Your Car 101 (Series) - Checking Tire Pressure

A: Checking the tire pressure isn't a very difficult task.  However, It is important to check in on a regular basis.

Air is comprised of my particles.  Air expands and contracts with temperatures - expands with heat, condenses with cold.  So you will find many times that when fall/winter comes, your tire pressure decreases, and just as spring/summer hits, your tire pressure increases.

Accurate tire pressures can affect several things.  Improper maintenance of your tire pressure can decrease your tire's life.  Too little air pressure causes more tire to contact the pavement but also puts the tire in a pinch between the surface and the wheel.  This creates almost a rubbing effect where each bump pinches the tire and wears away at the inside surface.  Eventually...this could cause the tire to pop while driving.  However you look at it, if your tire's air pressure is low, you're decreasing the life of your tire.

Two, improper maintenance of tire pressure can affect the car's gas mileage.  Crazy, huh?  Well, think of it this way.  Too little air pressure creates excess rubber to contact the road, creating a larger area of friction or resistance.  The car has to work harder on each rotation to push/pull (depending on how you imagine it) the car.  Have you ever tried pushing a wheel barrel with a low tire?  Your car feels the same way.  According to FuelEconomy.Gov, "under inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires."  That's huge considering you could gain almost 4% better fuel economy by just maintaining your tire pressure.

If you're unsure where your tire pressure should be, don't fret.  Car manufacturer's tell you!  Open the driver's door and look at the door jam.  Somewhere close to the door latch on either the body of the car or the door, you will find a sticker with tire sizes and the recommended tire pressures.  Sometimes, they will also tell you recommended pressures during hot and cold weather seasons.  If it's not in your door jam, other locations include the glove box, trunk, center console, or the owner's manual (if you have one).

Don't know how to check it?  Well...there's no reason for me to reinvent the wheel.  The DMV offers a very good instructional page, including what I was going to recommend - do NOT buy the cheapo tire pressure gauges.  DMV Webpage.

Bryan Lin | CEO, The Motorsports Authority, Inc. |


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