With autumn just around the corner and temperatures slowly dropping, you should take a moment to inspect your vehicle, particularly the tires.
Cold weather affects tire pressure. For every 10 degrees Fahrenheit, tire pressure can drop between one to two pounds per square inch (PSI). Pressure also reduces the higher you are in elevation.
Why does tire pressure matter? The air pressure inside the tires, not the tires themselves, is what supports the vehicle’s massive weight.
Maintaining the correct pressure means you’re receiving optimal traction when driving on slippery roads and extending the life of your tires. Your vehicle will also get more efficient mileage, handle better, and brake more quickly.
When the temperature drops suddenly, remain vigilant. Check the tire pressure at regular intervals, at least once a month or as needed.
If you are unsure what the correct minimal pressure amount should be, there are a few places to check: the door frames on the driver and passenger sides or the vehicle manufacturer’s handbook.
Tips for How to Check and Adjust Tire Pressure
When your tires’ inflation decreases due to cold weather, it’s important to maintain the correct pressure level.
- Consult the vehicle’s handbook. If you don’t know what the optimal tire pressure should be, reference the vehicle’s handbook. It will specify the minimum tire pressure required for the vehicle.
- Use a gauge to detect pressure. Most auto-part stores have handheld tire-pressure gauges you can buy. Some gas stations also offer air compressor stations for free, so you can check your tires before or after filling up the tank.
- Check when it’s cool out. You’ll get a better reading if you check the tire pressure in the morning or after a few hours of non-use.
- Adjust the tire’s inflation properly. Place the gauge on the open valve stem. Press down until the hissing sound of air escaping stops. The gauge will show how much PSI is in the tire. If the pressure is too high, press the valve to let some air out. If the pressure is low, attach the air compressor nozzle to the tire valve and fill the tire until it reaches the recommended pressure range.
If you are uncertain how to do this yourself and need assistance, take the vehicle to a tire or auto shop for tire inflation service. Many shops will inspect and inflate your tires for free or for a small fee. The technicians will also be able to spot any other issues, such as worn tire treads and misalignment.
Discount Tires offers free air pressure checks — if you are in the Duluth, GA area, we recommend the service center by Sugarloaf Mills.
Why Is Low Tire Pressure Bad?
Low tire pressure can cause a blowout. When the air pressure gets too low, the tire’s sidewalls become squeezed, causing heat to build up inside the tire. Severe overheating can cause the tire to separate from its carcass (the inner lining). Striking a pothole or a sharp object can also more easily penetrate a deflated tire.
A tire blowout can be a traumatic experience. Not only is it difficult to maintain control of the vehicle, but you have to quickly find a space where it’s safe to pull over. In the middle of rush hour or heavy traffic, this can be a nightmare.
Tire blowouts are sudden events that can easily lead to a car accident. If you damage another vehicle or injure another person during a blowout crash, you will most likely be found at fault.
Avoid the hassle and pain of a tire blowout by regularly checking tire pressure and maintaining your vehicle’s tires.