If you own a vehicle, you know how important your tires are; without them you’re not going to get very far. Even the fastest, most tuned motor will not get you where you want to go if you don’t have any tires. As the owner of a vehicle, you’ve likely asked many questions about your car, like, “how much air should I put in my tires?” Knowing the answer will give you a reliable ride for many years to come.
Why does it matter?
Checking and maintaining your car’s optimal tire pressure is extremely important. Just like changing your oil, changing your brake pads on a regular basis and putting the right gas into your tank, having the right tire pressure will help ensure your car is safe for you and your family. You’ll enjoy these benefits if you keep your tire pressure optimized:
- Better gas mileage – with the price of gas always on the rise, you want to make sure that you get the most out of your tank while keeping more money in your pocket.
- Safer – If you have a family then safety is likely your first priority in the car. Better overall handling both on straight roads and curves means you and your family will get to your destination safely.
- Longer lasting – tires that are properly inflated will help your entire vehicle last longer. Durability in a vehicle is a good thing; you don’t want to be spending thousands of dollars every few years on a new one.
- Better traction – properly inflated tires give you better overall traction in all kinds of weather.
Over-inflating your tires will result in a bouncy ride and a car that doesn’t handle well. An under-inflated tire will wear them down due to increased friction
Also, keep in mind that the manufacturer’s recommendation is different from the Max PSI on the Sidewall. The max PSI that is written on the sidewall is the maximum amount that the tires can handle. The manufacturer’s recommendation will typically be listed on the sticker located on the door jamb. This is the number you want to pay attention to.
Car vs. SUV/Truck
Generally speaking, cars’ tires will not require as much PSI as an SUV or truck. The bigger the vehicle, the larger the tires, and ultimately, the higher the PSI is going to be. A car’s PSI is generally going to be between 32-35 PSI, when they’re cold. The recommendation for SUVs and Trucks can be as high as 40.
If you’re carrying a heavy load in your truck, then you’ll need to overinflate your tires slightly so it can handle the extra load smoothly. Even loads that you don’t think would make a difference (hockey gear in the back of your SUV, for example) can have an impact on driveability.
Winter vs. Summer
If you live in a colder climate, you’ll want to use winter tires for those icy, snowy roads. Winter tires provide better traction, provide you with enhanced stopping power and can even give you a discount on your car insurance. As a general rule, you should follow the same manufacturer’s recommendation that is listed on your door jamb for all tires, winter and summer. If you aren’t sure, you can contact your local mechanic, or browse through your owner’s manual for more information.
Checking the gauge and filling the tires
It’s best to check your tire pressure first thing in the morning before driving the car anywhere. Driving the car more than one mile, having it sit in the hot sun on hot pavement and warmed by rising daytime temperatures can all have an effect on the pressure gauge reading.
Check your pressure at least once a month. It’s very simple to do with a tire gauge that you can get almost anywhere. It only takes a few seconds to check. If you find that you need to give them more air, you have a couple of choices. You can go to your local gas station and use the air pump that’s there (it may cost you a dollar or two); or, you can invest in a quality air compressor to have on hand. If you have more than one vehicle, this may be a more convenient option.
Knowing the recommended PSI of your vehicle’s tires is as important as changing the oil and brake pads. Owning a vehicle comes with responsibility, and part of that is making sure your car is as safe as possible for both you and your passengers.
Check your manufacturer’s recommendation listed on the sticker on the inside door jamb (or in your owner’s manual) to find out the right PSI for your car. Checking the PSI every month when your car is cold will help ensure you get the best ride possible.