Tire Inflation Tips for Better Fuel Economy, Safety, and Longer-Lasting Tires

Tire pressure is very important, but many car owners don’t give their tires a second thought once they’re installed. By following a few simple tire inflation tips, you can lower the risk of triggering your car’s tire pressure warning light or experiencing a blowout.

Underinflated tires can cause a number of significant problems, including the following:

  • Decreased fuel economy
  • Abnormal tire wear
  • Poor traction, especially when braking and cornering
  • Overheated tires, which can lead to blowouts

According to a study on tire inflation conducted by the Government of Canada, 10 percent of vehicles have at least one tire underinflated by about 20 percent. In addition to being a serious safety hazard due to the risk of sudden tire failure, underinflation can reduce tire life by 15,000 kilometres. What’s more, underinflated tires can increase fuel consumption by 4 percent.

Tire Inflation Tips for a Safe and Economical Ride

1. Using a tire pressure gauge

Begin by taking the tire valve cap off the valve stem. If you have steel wheels and wheel covers, you may have to remove the wheel cover to access the valve. Next, align the opening of the tire pressure gauge with the tip of the valve stem and press firmly. You may hear a brief hiss of air; if the hissing continues, it means you haven’t properly aligned the gauge with the valve stem. Try again at a slightly different angle until you get it right.

Once you have the gauge in place, read the pressure. Some gauge models retain the pressure reading even after being removed from the valve stem, which can be a helpful feature if the tire is in an awkward position.

2. How much air is enough?

Think again before inflating your tires to the maximum PSI indicated on the tire sidewall; that’s not the correct pressure specification. Instead, look for the “Tire and Loading Information” sticker, located on the driver-side door or door jamb.

This information can typically be found in your owner’s manual, which you should keep in the glove box with your shiny new tire pressure gauge.

3. When to check and adjust tire pressure

Given that tire pressure changes with temperature, usage, time, and damage, Transport Canada recommends that drivers check pressure levels at least once a month. Tire inflation should always be checked and adjusted when the tires are “cold,” or when they haven’t been driven in at least three hours. First thing in the morning is usually the best time to check.

Following these tire inflation tips is probably the cheapest maintenance work you can do on your car. They take just a few minutes and don’t require a high level of expertise. Why not start checking the tire pressure as part of your monthly car maintenance routine?

Benjamin Jerew