Checking Car Tire Pressure How to Guide

checking tire pressure

Car tire pressure is a commonly overlooked element of car service and maintenance. The effects of incorrectly inflated tires are multiple and varied. Handling, fuel efficiency, bearing durability, stopping distance and wear are all affected by the level of inflation that your tires are at.

Tires are not completely round. Where they meet the road there should be a flat centre which is the point at which the power of your engine is transferred into the road. If your flat centre is too large, because the tire is under inflated, then the tire will have more grip on the road. As the tire begins to rotate, it will undulate between stretching to cover the flat area touching the road and shrinking back to the rounded shape of the rest of the tire. This continuous change in pressure will cause the tire to heat up and will lead to a blow-out after a long enough period of time.

Tire pressure is also affected by the load in the vehicle. If you take on extra passengers, attach a trailer, or add another weight then the effect on your tire pressure will be detrimental to your fuel consumption and tire wear. Over or under inflation will also lead to irregular wear on your tires.

Here is how to check the pressure and make sure your tires are properly inflated:

  • Park your car near anair compressor. Every petrol station should have a tire pump to enable you to adjust the pressure in your tires. Park close enough to reach all four tires with the hose and allow space for yourself to move freely between the pump and your car.
  • Discern the recommended tire pressure for your car. This information should be written on the driver’s door jamb, the engine bay, the glove box, and the user manual. Note that the pressure written on the tire itself is a maximum inflation PSI, not a recommended pressure for your vehicle.
  • Remove the valve caps from your tires and place them all in a safe place so that you can replace them later.
  • Place the pressure gauge on each of the tire valves. If you hear air escaping then you need to push harder to get an accurate measurement. Make a note of all of the pressures as you take these readings.
  • Inflate tires to the specified level by applying the compressor head to the valve and opening the lever. When filling tires it is important to do so in small stages and to keep rechecking the pressure so that you do not over inflate them.
  • If you do over inflate the tire at any point then you can deflate it by pressing on the centre prong of the valve. Most gauges will have a point built in to do this with, but failing this a door key will suffice.
  • Replace the valve caps when the tires are at the correct pressure.
  • Remember to check tire pressure before any long journey and whenever adding an unusual load to the vehicle. Tire pressure is a crucial element of car maintenance which becomes very costly if neglected.
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