Tires are one of the most important parts of your car and maintaining proper tire pressure is critical to your safety. Many experts believe that tire pressure should be measured every month, but if you have no history of tire problems, you may want to check your tires four times each year and before leaving on any long trips. Another part of tire maintenance is knowing when its time to replace your tires. While tread life varies significantly by brand, your mechanic or the people at the auto store can help you to know how many miles you can expect to get out of your tires.
Why Tire Pressure Matters
If your tire pressure is too high, less of the tire will be in contact with the road. This means you won’t have good traction and your car may even bounce around on the road. If your tire pressure is too low, however, your tires can overheat. Low tire pressure also significantly shortens the life of your tires.
Measuring Tire Pressure
An analog gauge or a digital gauge are both ways to get accurate readings. Due to the frequency of tire pressure checks, having a gauge at home can be a small and worthwhile investment. Be sure to check all four tires on your car, it only takes one to create problems on the road and just because one is okay doesn’t mean the others are too. It’s also smart to check the tire pressure of your spare tire so you know it is in good condition should you ever need it.
To find your car’s ideal tire pressure, you want to go by the manufacturer’s recommendations listed in your owner’s manual. Many people make the mistake of going by the number on the tire itself, but this is the maximum tire pressure, often much higher than the recommended tire pressure.
Tire pressure should always be measured cold. This has nothing to do with the temperature of the air itself, but rather the tire in relation to the air. If your car has been sitting for a few hours since a long drive, your tires are considered cold. If you go to the gas station or garage to get your tire pressure checked, be sure your car sits for a little while or that the place is nearby. Short trips shouldn’t affect the tire’s temperature enough to impact the reading.
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