The air pressure for car tires should be a common concern for many drivers. However, maintaining accurate air pressure in your tires is important but is often the last issue most drivers think about when caring for their vehicle.
We all know that, without enough air pressure for car tires, you can end up with a flat tire that can ruin your rims or result in rapid tire wear. It can also lead to a blown tire and leave you stranded on the side of the road. If you over inflate your tires, it can ruin the tread and cut the life of your tires in half. What’s more, maintaining the correct air pressure in your tires can improve fuel economy—and save you from having to use your spare tire when in the middle of nowhere.
We will discuss all the basics you need to know about air pressure to maintain a great set of tires that can get you anywhere.
How Much Air Pressure Does Your Car Need?
Air pressure varies greatly from car to car, depending on vehicle model, tire size, and other factors. There is no one-size-fits-all number, though the average car needs anywhere between 30 to 35 pounds. The bigger the vehicle, the higher the number will be.
Finding how much air pressure your tire needs is easy to do and there a few ways to check it.
- The driver’s manual to your vehicle will tell you how much air pressure your tires should have.
- You can also check the sticker on the inside of your door with all your car details, including model. This should also state how much air pressure your tires will need.
- The third place you can check is on the tire itself. The tire will tell you the exact max PSI number. However, you do not want to fill your tire up to the max level. This number is just stating how much your tires can take. You will want to fill the air up a little less than the number printed on your tire.
How to Check Your Tire Pressure with a Gauge
You also need to be able to check the air pressure your tires are carrying around to determine if your car needs air or is packing too much air.
It is recommended by experts to visit a local gas station to use an air compressor with an accurate tire pressure gauge to check the air pressure in each tire at least once a month. You may want to check more often during the summer since increased heat can cause your tires to lose pressure more quickly—and under-inflated tires can be dangerous.
Your tires can leak air without any visible holes and you can be completely unaware that your tire is losing air while you are driving around. In fact, your tires do not need to be punctured to lose air. Simply driving your car day after day can lead to loss of air pressure, resulting in under-inflated tires.
You can purchase a tire pressure gauge for cheap at any auto store and most gas stations have an air compressor handy for quick use if you are in desperate need.
So, let’s discuss the steps to checking the pressure in your tires using a tire gauge.
- To get an accurate reading, it is the best practice to check the air pressure in your tires while they are cold. This means to check them when you have not been driving for at least an hour. There will be times when you have to check your air pressure while driving, it just happens.
- First, you want to take off the end caps on the air valve of your tire. Some tires do not have end caps. Keep these end caps nearby because the last thing you want to do is lose one!
- Next, you want to put the tire gauge into the air valve and push down quickly to get your reading. Tire gauges read by pounds per inch (PSI). You want to check twice in case you did not push the gauge in far enough which is quite common.
- You want to compare this number to how much air pressure your tire actually needs. If the air pressure reading is over the amount, let a bit of air out. If it is under the recommended number, fill it up until it reaches the correct PSI for your tire.
- You want to check every tire on your car. Just because one of your tires has the right amount of air does not mean that another tire may not be leaking. Checking just one tire is not enough!
How to Fill Your Tires with Air
If you need to fill your tires with air (which you will need to eventually!), it is important you know how to do it properly. It is an easy process once you have learned to check the air pressure the correct way.
Most gas stations have air pumps you can use to fill your tires. Some have a fee to use their air pumps while other gas stations offer free services.
- First, you want to park your vehicle as close to the air pump as possible, so it can reach the tire you need to fill.
- Next, you will remove the end cap on the air valve of your tire. Keep the cap close by because they are so easy to lose! You are going to need to check the air pressure to determine how much air your tire needs.
- Press the air pump against the air valve. You will hear a mumbled hissing sound. If the hissing is too loud, you are not holding it directly on the air valve so air is escaping.
- You want to fill the tire for a few seconds and keep checking the air pressure with the tire gauge. This will keep you in check of your air pressure goal so you don’t over inflate. You will fill to your mark and then you are done!
Checking the air pressure in your front and rear tires on a routine basis will help you preserve your tires for much longer with less tire wear. Not only that, but it can prevent expensive and potentially serious accidents and improve fuel economy at the same time. Maintaining your tires is easy and just as important as maintaining the rest of your vehicle!