Maintaining proper pressure in your car's tyres is important for a variety of reasons, from road safety to fuel economy and even extending the tyres' lifespan. Tyres that have either not enough or too much air may lose some traction, and they impact how a car handles. The car's braking system can be thrown off if the tyres are not inflated to the right degree. One way to be sure that your tyres are inflated properly is to check the pressure. You can do this immediately after air is added to the tyres and periodically thereafter to determine when they need to be inflated again. While professional mechanics can do this for you, there is a simple tool, a tyre pressure gauge, that can help you perform this routine maintenance task in just a few minutes.
Gathering Equipment and Information
In order to check tyre pressure, you will need both a tyre pressure gauge and a knowledge of what pressure rating your vehicle requires. Purchasing a pressure gauge is simple. These are typically inexpensive and can be found in petrol station shops or online. This is a simple device that hooks onto the tyre's air intake valve and gives a pressure reading, and both digital and analogue models exist. It is not necessarily better to purchase a more expensive model because all tyre pressure gauges operate on the same mechanical principles.
Finding Pressure Rating Information
Every car make and model has different tyre pressure ratings, and it is important to find out your car's specific tyre pressure rating before measuring the pressure. Without this information, it is difficult to know whether your tyres are properly inflated, so finding your car's rating should be a first step in the process. There are a few different places to look for your car's pressure rating. Some manufacturers put the information in the car's owner's manual or other documentation, while others place the information on a sticker inside the driver's door or on the inside of the fuel filler flap.
Understanding Tyre Pressure Ratings
Tyre pressure recommendations are usually presented in a chart that includes several different options. Factors such as the car's weight impact how much air should go into the tyres. Manufacturers may recommend different pressure ratings based on how many people typically ride in the car. For example, ratings may be different for two passengers versus four. Temperature also impacts pressure ratings; the recommendations provided by the manufacturer apply to cold tyres. This has nothing to do with the temperature outside. Tyres heat up with use, so avoid measuring your tyres' pressure after driving it for more than a few metres.
Tyre Pressure Measurement Units
There are two measuring units that may be used to determine tyre pressure: BAR or PSI. Check to see which one your car's manufacturer uses. Some manufacturers use both, but if your car only uses BAR or PSI, make sure you purchase a pressure gauge that uses that particular unit of measurement.
Using the Pressure Gauge
While each individual tyre pressure gauge may work in slightly different ways, for the most part, these are very simple tools that plug into the tyre's air valve and provide a nearly instantaneous reading. Plug the gauge into each of the car's tyres and check to make sure each tyre is not under or over inflated. Add or release air as needed. Motorists are typically advised to check their tyre pressure on a monthly basis. It may also be a good idea to check tyre pressure before adding a heavy load to the car, such as packing it for a vacation. The pressure may be at an appropriate level for normal use but not for a heavy load.
Inspecting the Tyres
While you are checking your tyres' pressure, you can also give them a visual inspection. Sometimes, tyre pressure does not tell the whole story of tyre health. Tyres that are bulging, uneven or cracked should be taken in for professional inspection. Tyres with a lot of wear on one side may need to be rotated or even replaced.
Visual Signs of Improper Pressure
While using a pressure gauge is the most effective way to determine tyres' internal pressure, there are some visual signs to notice as well. If you suspect that you see one of these signs, that may be a signal that you need to check your tyres' pressure. Properly inflated tyres make an even track with all of the treads touching the ground. Under-inflated tyres may have a slight indentation toward the centre of the tyre, and they may make tracks that fade out toward the centre. Over-inflated tyres typically bulge, preventing the treads at the very edges of the tyre from touching the ground. Tyres that look flat or saggy are likely underinflated, while those that have a bulging look are likely overinflated. These visual signs are helpful, but the best way to tell is to use a pressure gauge and get a reading.