Even though it can seem like the most mundane task in the world, inflating your tires and checking inflation levels is more essential than you might think because it results in a more economical and safer experience while on the road. Proper inflation of the tires can improve your fuel economy and provide more adequate and smoother handling. Plus, you’re more likely to experience a better response with your ride and balance.
Before You Start
It is important to find out what the manufacturer recommends for inflating your tires. To do that, there should be a sticker on the doorjamb of the driver’s side. It is likely to include weight restrictions for the vehicle, as well as the recommended tire pressure. If you can’t find it there or the sticker has worn away, the information should also be in the owner’s manual under the maintenance/car-care section.
The sidewall markings on the tires aren’t the best indication of tire pressure; those numbers are the maximum and not ideal for everyday driving.
You shouldn’t judge the tire pressure by looking at the tire unless the tire is completely flat. It’s best to use a tire pressure gauge to ensure that you get a correct reading in pounds per square inch. You can find a variety of inexpensive ones, including internal slide versions and digital. However, it’s also important to determine when and where you are going to use the gauge because some digital gauges may not work properly in cold temperatures.
Tips to Check/Fill Tires
Most manufacturers recommend that you check the tires when they are cold to get an accurate reading. That doesn’t mean you have to wait until winter to check them; it just means that you should check the tire pressure before you go anywhere and it’s preferable to do it in the early morning.
If you do check the tires in the morning and again when you reach your destination, don’t be surprised or worried if the psi is higher and don’t make the mistake of letting out that extra ‘air.’ The increase is from the pressure building up while the tires are in constant motion, and it is likely to settle.
What to Do
It is best if you can work in the shade because the temperatures are going to be lower. However, don’t move the vehicle right before testing. If you can wait, you may want to park the car on a level surface that is going to be shaded when you test the pressure of the tires.
Next, you should remove the dust caps from the valve stems, and put them in your pocket or another safe area, ensuring that you don’t lose them.
Take the tire gauge and press the tip firmly onto the valve stem of the tire for just a brief moment. You don’t have to leave it pressed on there for very long. Just make sure that the tip of the gauge is firmly pressed to the valve stem. If you get an odd reading, such as 85 psi or 10 psi, you should clear the data and try again.
If you notice that the gauge’s recorded reading is higher than what the manufacturer recommends, you can press the gauge’s tip to the valve stem, letting some air leak out; you can continue checking periodically and letting out more air until it gets to the recommended number.
If, however, the reading is lower than manufacturer levels, you should have the tire filled with air. You can do this at home if you have an air compressor or you can visit almost any gas station and follow the simple instruction on the machine.