Under-inflated tires are not something you should ever overlook. Neglecting to drive with appropriate tire pressure could cause a fatal accident that was easy to prevent. Driving on tires that are under-inflated is the one of the leading causes of tire failure. When your tire pressure is too low and you hit a bump in the road, the impact causes a momentary spike in PSI, which can lead to a blowout. In fact, if your tire pressure falls 25% below the manufacturer's recommended pressure, your risk of a blowout triples (the risk becomes exponentially higher if your tires surpass that 25% mark)! You may think that you can rely on your vehicle's tire pressure monitoring system, but most systems only warn you if tire pressure has reached that 25% threshold, making your drive unsafe! Many people drive daily with under-inflated tires, unaware of the dangers. If you've been guilty of this, don’t worry, you can be safely on your way by following these tips:
Check your tire pressure at least once a month. You may not notice when your tires are low just by looking at them, but a slight decrease in pressure could negatively impact your fuel economy as well as the life of your tires. Check your pressure regularly and record how it impacts your fuel economy. If the weather shifts drastically where you live, you may want to check it more frequently as tires could lose up to a pound of pressure in a cold front.
Be prepared. Know the right tire pressure recommended by the manufacturer. This can be found on the side of the tire, in the owner’s manual and sometimes in the yellow sticker found in the door jamb of a new vehicle. Carry a digital tire gauge in your glovebox, or if it is not available, buy an standard one. If the tire pressure is noticeably low with the naked eye, your tires are way, way too low. Check tire pressure when the tires have cooled off after driving, or first thing in the morning when the temperature is the lowest.
Fill your tires if under-inflated. This is easily done at any gas station, or at home if you have an air compressor. Some attendants will even turn on the machine for free. Remove the cap from each tire and fill to the appropriate level, and make sure you check every tire, not just the one you think is low. If you have driven to get air, your tires will still be warm, so fill them an extra 3 PSI to make up for the missing air as the tires cool down. Don’t worry if you overfill the tires, just gently press down on the gauge to release some of the air.
Following these steps will not only help you improve your fuel economy and prevent premature tire wear, it will also help you stay safe on the road!