Having the correct tire pressure is vital for any vehicle. Unfortunately, many car owners aren’t aware of the recommended tire pressure.
The right tire pressure not only gets you better gas mileage but also protects your tires and car on the road. There are several tell-tale signs of incorrect tire pressure, some of which may include sluggish steering or low gas mileage.
So, if you’re wondering “how much air should I put in my tires?” – do give our guide a read. We’ll share the required insight on the topic with some tips on increasing your tire life. Furthermore, we’ll tell you how to check your tire pressure and avoid underinflated tires.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
Table of Contents
How Much Air Do Your Tires Need?
The recommended tire pressure for every vehicle is different primarily due to the difference in size and weight of the tires. And maintaining proper tire pressure is essential, as it enhances the performance of the vehicle.
Now, the air pressure of tires is typically measured in PSI or pounds per square inch. Generally, the recommended PSI is between 30 and 35, which is commonly listed on the vehicle door on the driver’s side in new cars. However, the ideal PSI may be different for every vehicle.
Some cars may not have the PSI listed on the driver’s door; instead, you may find it in the owner’s manual. It should specify the recommended PSI for the front and rear tires as well as the spare. In fact, we recommend checking the pressure on the spare tire every once in a while, as it tends to lose pressure over time.
A vital point to remember is that you should never inflate your tires to the pressure listed on the tire itself. After all, this air pressure refers to the maximum pressure that the tire can hold and not the recommended pressure.
Dangers Of Over Inflating Or Under Inflating Your Tires
Did you know that over-inflated tires can be hazardous for the vehicle? Doing so may result in a bouncy ride or make it difficult for you to handle your vehicle properly. On the other hand, underinflated tires can increase friction and negatively affect tire wear, decreasing its lifespan and resulting in a bumpy, dangerous ride
Furthermore, an ill-handling car affects vehicle performance and fuel efficiency, so ensure that you get your tires correctly inflated by a professional.
When Should You Check Your Tire Pressure?
You should never check tire pressure right after a car ride when the tires are hot. It is best to allow the tires to cool down first.
While driving, the road generates heat and increases friction between the tires. This can result in an increase in tire pressure and tire temperature. The most accurate tire pressure reading can be made after the car has been sitting overnight or has been idle for a few hours at least.
How To Check Tire Pressure?
The best way to check correct tire pressure is by using a tire pressure monitoring system or a tire pressure gauge.
As we mentioned earlier, tires roll on the road during driving, leading to increased friction. This, in turn, affects the tire pressure and temperature, giving you an inaccurate and inconsistent reading.
When using a tire pressure gauge, ensure that there is no hissing sound. This could mean that the angle of the pressure gauge needs to be adjusted or that the gauge is too loose and needs to be tightened further for a correct reading.
Types Of Tire Pressure Gauges
- Digital Pressure Gauge – This type of tool displays the tire pressure on a digital screen
- Pen-Type Pressure Gauge – This tool has a ruler-shaped rod that slides between a sleeve to measure air pressure
- Dial Pressure Gauge – This tool features a numbered dial similar to the face of a watch
Step-By-Step Guide For Checking Tire Pressure
Check With Cold Tires
Never check your tire pressure when the tires are hot, as the readings will change with the temperature, giving you an inaccurate reading. Cold inflation pressure is extremely important if you want a consistent reading.
Use A Tire Gauge
Begin by unscrewing the valve cap and putting the pressure gauge into the valve stem firmly. Ensure that there is no hissing sound, as this means that the gauge is not tight enough or not angled correctly.
In the case of a digital pressure gauge, you will observe the reading on the screen. For a pen-type pressure gauge, a number will pop out on the sleeve, which will be the reading. And, in the case of a dial pressure gauge, the reading will appear in a similar way as it would on a watch face.
Pro Tip – Ensure that you get the pressure reading accurately the first time around. We recommend not checking the tire pressures more than once, as it can cause air to escape through the valve stem.
Note The Readings Correctly
Note the readings of each tire on a piece of paper and compare it to the recommended tire pressure mentioned on the vehicle’s door or owner’s manual. Keep in mind that some car tires may have different readings for the front and rear tires.
Fill The Correct Tire Pressure And Recheck
In case your tires are underinflated, use an air compressor to fill them correctly. Although it is best to fill them when they are cold, if you must fill hot tires, inflate them to at least 3 to 4 pounds per square inch above the recommended number.
Also, it is fine to over-inflate the tires slightly, as you can always let the excess air out with an air gauge. Finally, recheck the tire pressure using an air gauge to ensure it is at the recommended pressure.
Tips To Maintain Proper Tire Inflation
It is essential to maintain proper tire pressure at all times as it can heavily affect the tire performance and fuel economy. Each time you inflate your tires, always check the pressure to see if it is at the recommended pressure levels. Moreover, it is best to check the tire pressure every 30 days or with each 10-degree F temperature change.
Benefits Of Proper Tire Inflation
You may be wondering if you can get away with under-inflated tires every once in a while. Does it really affect tire performance? Well, let us discuss some of the benefits of maintaining proper tire pressure
It Leads To Premature Wear
Underinflated or overinflated tires can stress their surface and lead to premature wear due to friction. Ensure that your tires are properly inflated to the recommended PSI; otherwise, you will have to invest in new tires frequently.
It Affects Fuel Economy
When driving with under-inflated tires, the force required to push the tires forward is significantly more compared to when the tires are properly inflated. As such, this rolling resistance between the road and your tires affects fuel economy, and you end up spending much more on fuel.
It Affects Tire Grip
The contact patch size between your tires and the road affects their grip. While over-inflated tires decrease the contact patch, under-inflated tires increase it. The larger the contact patch, the more grip you have on the road.
That said, keep in mind that under-inflated tires can lead to excessive wear and tear and greater fuel consumption, both of which are not desirable.
We hope this helps you understand tire pressure and how much air you should ideally put in tires.
Always check the sticker inside the car to find out the recommended PSI for your tires, and don’t go by the number that is commonly listed on the tires. Furthermore, it is best to get your tires inflated by a professional, as they will know the needs of every tire better.