Proper maintenance of your car is crucial for its long life and safe operation. One of the most important parts of your car that require periodic maintenance are your tires. They are literally where the rubber meets the road, and they are therefore a vital component of your vehicle.
What Needs To Be Done:
Your car's tires are made from rubber and are inflated with air. The air pressure inside the tire needs to be checked regularly to ensure safe and fuel-efficient operation of your vehicle.
Why Do It?
- Air slowly leaks out of even the newest, most expensive tires.
- Keeping the proper air pressure in your tires provides a comfortable ride for you and your passengers.
- Properly inflated tires usually get better fuel efficiency compared to poorly inflated tires.
- Changing temperatures can affect the inflation of your tires.
According to Edmunds.com, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that about 5 million gallons of gas per day—2 billion gallons a year—are wasted because of low tire pressure. Remember, it's difficult to tell if a radial tire needs air just by looking at it, so tires need to be checked.
Tires warm up when your car is moving. It can take only a mile of driving, regardless of the outside temperature, to change the condition of your tires from cold to hot. Air expands inside a "hot" tire, so the air pressure reading will not be accurate on a hot tire.
According to safercar.gov, tire air pressure should be checked at least once a month when the tires are cold.
But, you may want to consider checking your tire pressure more frequently in the following instances, which may make the pressure decline:
- If you run over an object, like a nail, that can puncture the rubber.
- If you strike curb or other object.
- The weather suddenly changes from warm to cold.
If your car has a tire pressure sensor and a light on the dashboard is illuminated, you should check the tire pressure immediately on all four tires.
How To Do It:
Checking your tire pressure is easy. Here's how to do it.
Step 1. Purchase a tire gauge.
Tire gauges are small enough to fit in your glove box, and they're a handy tool to have. The newer digital tire gauges can be more accurate—and easier to read—than the older ones. If you don't want to purchase a gauge, you also can go to the air pump at a gas station, which usually has a gauge on the hose. That's convenient, because if you find that your tires need air, you're already there.
Step 2. Discover the proper air pressure for your car
Tire pressure is measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI. You can often find the right PSI for your vehicle on a yellow sticker inside the driver's-side door jam, or you can consult your owner's manual. Remember, the ideal air pressure may be different for the front and rear tires.
Step 3. Remove the air valve cap from your tire.
It's easy to lose this little valve cap. Be sure to place it in your pocket or someplace where it will not roll away or quickly disappear.
Step 4. Press the tire gauge against the open valve stem
You will hear a hiss of air as you press down. Don't be concerned; this is normal.
Step 5. Read the tire pressure
on the gauge
The number will appear on the dial or digital screen on the tire gauge. Compare this number with the recommended tire pressure for the tire. If it's too low, you can add air. If the pressure is too high, you can let air out of the tire.
A digital tire gauge.
Press the tire gauge against the open valve stem.
Compare the number on your tire gauge against the recommended pressure.
Always remember if you notice any damage on your tire or it quickly loses air pressure, you should have the tire checked by a professional. It may need replacement.
Need help remembering to check your tire pressure? Sign up for Allstate's Maintenance Reminder .