We at Central Avenue Automotive, recognize that every vehicle is different. Each car has its own personality and set of specifications that it must operate within in order to function at its optimum level. One of the elements that varies from car to car is the ideal tire pressure. Because tires can be easily inflated, many car owners elect to inflate their tires themselves, which can result in over or under inflation. Others may forget to regulate the tire pressure all together.
Due to several fatal accidents in the mid 1990s with Ford Explorers and Firestone tires, Congress enacted the Tread Act. It was a law that was designed to help consumers with tire labeling, warranties, recalls and proper tire disposal. But, the main component to the law was the mandatory tire pressure monitoring system. This is a system that monitors tire pressure and will trigger a warning light if tires drop below a preset inflation threshold between 25-30% of the cold PSI rating of the tire. This does not warn you if your tire is 20% low or high on air, and that is enough to cause substantial premature tire wear, as well as decreased fuel economy.
There are a few occasions where you may want to have lower air pressure in your tire for a short amount of time, like on icy, snowy roads. This will increase the contact patch of the tire on the road and will allow for more traction. However, if you run tires with low air pressure for too long, it can increase the side wall temperature of the tires, causing a blowout. So, if you find yourself in an unexpected situation where you need some more traction, you can lower the tire pressure by 25-30% to temporarily get you out of the situation, then immediately re-inflate the tires to the recommended pressures. A better option would be to have the appropriate tires on the vehicle for the road conditions.
Maintaining the ideal tire pressure for your specific vehicle is essential for its proper operation and management. Having tires that are not inflated properly can result in damage to your car, and more importantly can increase your chances of having an accident. For these reasons it is important that you check your tires at least once a month while they are cold to ensure that they are neither over or under inflated.
Consequences of Overinflated Tires
Overinflated tires are most commonly a result of pumping too much air into the vehicle’s tires. Although a tire may look like it needs a certain amount of air, it is important to know and adhere to the levels specified for your car. Some of the results of having tires that are overinflated include:
- Increased chance of damage
- Rougher ride
- Higher risk of blowout
- Increased tire wear
- Consequences of Under Inflated Tires
- Under Inflated tires can have even more consequences than overinflated tires. Some of these consequences include:
- Increased tire wear
- Heightened risk of blowout
- Increased difficulty with handling
- Decreased fuel efficiency
- Increased emissions
How do you know what is the proper tire pressure for your vehicle?
The proper tire pressure for your vehicle can most often be found on a sticker in the driver’s side door jam. The pressure marked on the sticker is the pressure that you should use. You should never use the pressure that is posted on the tire itself, because that pressure is the maximum pressure that the tire is designed to run. Since tires may fit several models of vehicles that weigh different amounts, engineers have calculated the optimum pressure that your tires should run and this is what is posted in the vehicle’s owners manual and on the door jam.
If you have questions about tire pressure, or would like to have your tires inflated properly, contact one of our experienced technicians at Central Avenue Automotive. You can reach them by calling (253) 854-6762. You can also come see Kent’s one stop repair shop at 1514 Central Ave. Kent, Washington 98032.