Tire Tips – How to Check Your Tire Pressure
WHY: Underinflated tires pose a risk to your safety. They also waste gas (the Department of Transportation estimates that approximately 5 million gallons of gas per day are wasted because of low tire pressure) and they cause wear and tear to your tire tread.
WHEN: You should make it a habit to check and refill your tires once a month.
FACT: You can’t tell whether your tire is underinflated by looking at it. If your tire looks underinflated, its’ pressure is dangerously low.
Checking Your Tire Pressure
1. 1) Purchase a digital tire gauge and keep it in your car. You might also consider purchasing a small notebook to record pressure and monthly fuel savings.
2. 2) Find the tire pressure level required for your car. You can usually find this information on a yellow sticker in the doorjamb on the driver side and in the owner’s manual. It might call for different pressure levels for the back tires and the front tires.
3. 3) Check the pressure when the tires are cold. Tires heat up as they drive. They take about a half hour to cool down; or, you can check the tires first thing in the morning.
4. 4) Unscrew the valve cap and set it to the side or in a pocket where you won’t lose it.
5. 5) Press the tire gauge onto the valve stem. There might be a slight hiss as you press down on the valve stem and again as you release it. You only need to do this for a second or two, long enough to get an accurate reading.
6. 6) Read the tire pressure on the digital gauge.
If the level of pressure in your tires is below the specified amount, you need to fill the tires with air.
For example, the sticker on the doorjamb may say that the recommended level is 32 psi (pounds per square inch). When you check your tire you find it is 29 psi. You need to bring your tire pressure up to spec. It’s estimated that for every 3 psi below spec, you burn 1 percent more fuel (and add 10 percent more tire wear). It’s not uncommon to be 10 psi below spec, which would waste 3 percent more fuel and increase tire wear by 45 percent.
Adjusting Your Tire Pressure
While you can find equipment available for purchase at auto part stores, most people refill their tires at the gas station. These air compressors typically cost between $.50-$1.00, many attendants will turn on the machine for free if you ask.
To adjust your tire pressure:
1. 1) Pull your car in close enough to the air compressor so that the hose can reach all four tires.
2. 2) Turn on the air compressor. (You will hear the compressor motor beginning to run.)
3. 3) Remove the stem caps and set them to the side or in a pocket.
4. 4) Press the hose fitting down on the valve stem and press the lever. You should feel air flowing through the hose and hear it inflating the tire. This can take a little effort to hold the hose on the valve stem.
5. 5) Check to see when you have enough air pressure in the tires by releasing the inflation lever. The gauge on the hose fitting will show if you have approximately enough air pressure. You can check it again later with your own gauge. At this point, it is better to slightly overinflate the tire.
6. 6) Adjust the pressure in all the tires in the same way. (Note: If the tires are warmed up, inflate the tire pressure to 3 psi over the specified amount.)
7. 7) Recheck the tire pressure with the digital gauge. If the pressure is too high, press the gauge down just far enough to release some air from the tire. Check it again.
8. 8) Replace the valve caps on all the tires.
Once you’ve completed these steps, you’re ready to start driving Southern style!