How to Check Tire Pressure—And Why It Matters
When you think of car safety features, what comes to mind? You probably didn’t think of tires, but in reality, your tires play a critical role in keeping you, your passengers, and other drivers safe. However, to do their job effectively, they need to be inflated to the correct pressure.
Why Does Tire Pressure Matter?
Because it keeps you safe
When tire pressure is low, more of the tire’s surface area makes contact with the ground, which can cause friction. If there’s too much friction, your tire will wear down faster and possibly overheat—both of which can cause loss of control or a complete blowout.
Because it keeps you comfortable
Your tires make driving a smoother experience when inflated to the right pressure. When the pressure is too high, less of the tire touches the road, so you’ll be in for a rougher and bouncier ride.
Because it prolongs the life of your tires
Incorrect inflation can cause uneven wear on your tires. When under-inflated, the shoulders of the tire will wear out much more quickly, which means you’ll end up spending more money on repairs and replacements.
Because it improves your gas efficiency
Poorly inflated tires won’t just have you paying more for maintenance. You’ll also be headed to the gas station more often. When tires are underinflated, they’re more resistant to rolling, which can hurt your gas mileage.
How to Check Your Tire Pressure
Many cars automatically alert you when a tire’s pressure is too high or too low, but it’s always a good idea to keep a handheld pressure gauge in your car. If you don’t have your own pressure gauge, many gas stations will have ones available for you to use at a minimal cost.
By a Professional
If you’d rather leave it to the professionals, you can bring your car to a technician or auto parts store, who will be able to accurately measure and adjust your tire pressure—often for no cost at all.
How to Inflate Your Tires at Home
If you choose to inflate your tires on your own, make sure to follow these steps.
First, you’ll need your own pressure gauge and air compressor in order to measure and adjust your tire pressure. Before starting, you should also make sure the tires are cold, as the heat created from driving can cause inaccurate gauge readings.
#2 Check the pressure
The recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) is always written on the tire itself, but may also be written on a sticker placed on the inside of your car doorframes. Once you know the PSI, check the actual pressure by inserting your gauge into the tire’s valve stem and waiting a few seconds while the gauge reads the pressure.
#3 Prepare your air compressor
Wherever the pressure is lower than the suggested level, you’ll need to add air. Get your air compressor ready to go by plugging it into a nearby outlet and switching it on. You can also use a hand pump, but the process will be much more labor-intensive.
#4 Fill your tires with air
Place the nozzle of the air compressor’s hose onto the valve stem, making sure you don’t hear any hissing noises. If your compressor has its own gauge, wait until you reach the correct PSI. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to reinsert your pressure gauge again to check if you filled up the tire sufficiently.
#5 Adjust the pressure
If you filled the tire too much, gently press on the valve stem in small increments to release some of the air. If the tire is still underinflated, reinsert the air pump to add more air.
Repeat the same steps with all four of your tires.
Proper tire maintenance is just one key to staying safe on the roads. Get the skills, knowledge, and experience you need to feel confident behind the wheel with one of our driving courses.