When Should Tyre Pressure Be Checked?
When it comes to car maintenance, one of the most overlooked yet important things you can do is maintain the pressure of your tyres. Tyres are more than just rubber wheels that give your car mobility. Your tyres are a key feature in car handling, influencing everything from steering to accelerating to braking. They are a vital link between the car and the road, help determine the car's fuel economy, and help keep us out of danger. Best of all, checking and maintaining your tyre pressure is easy and free.
Checking tyres can be done almost anywhere, whether at home or your local petrol station. To understand why regular tyre checks are important, we should look at what can happen to your tyres if you do not. We will also look at how best to check your tyres at home or a petrol station. Finally, we will look at what to do when your tyres are flat or worn out.
Why and when should tyre pressure be checked regularly?
Want to know why and when should tyre pressure be checked regularly? Tyres lose pressure over time, and temperature changes can cause your tyre pressure to drop dramatically. Cold temperatures can cause your tyre pressure to drop, sometimes as much as 5 pounds per square inch (PSI). Most tyres need a PSI between 30 and 40, so such a drastic drop can be risky. When the weather decreases by 10 degrees overnight, you should check your tyre pressure. Handling becomes more difficult without the right level of inflation, and both steering and braking become much harder. Poorly inflated tyres will wear down faster, plus the loss of pressure increases resistance on the road, leading to more fuel usage.
Some modern vehicles come equipped with a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) that will alert you if any of your tyres drop in pressure. This tech can help keep you on top of your tyre maintenance duties. However, whether or not you have this system, you should still check your tyres at least once a month. Doing this will help increase your tyres' handling, fuel efficiency and life expectancy, plus it will allow you to have a smoother and safer ride. In addition, you should always check pressure if your tyres begin to look flat or start showing unusual tread wear patterns. Of course, after you have encountered a pothole, collision or some other road hazard, take a minute to inspect your tyres.
Checking tyres at petrol stations
You can quickly check your tyre pressure at any petrol station or tyre retailer. Alternatively, check it manually with a pressure gauge and air compressor.
Wondering where to check tyre pressure? The easiest way is to check your tyre pressure at any petrol station. All petrol stations are fitted with an air pump located separately from the petrol pumps. A good time to inspect your tyres is after filling up your tank. Take a look around the station; there should be signs nearby indicating where the air pump is located. Alternatively, if there is a tyre retailer near you, you may be able to have your tyre pressure checked there. Try to check your tyres when they are cold because this will give you the most accurate pressure reading. Try to check your tyre pressure in the morning, before temperatures rise, as this will be when your tyres are at their coldest.
To find out what PSI level is correct for your tyres, check the owner's manual for your car. Alternatively, there should be a display sticker somewhere on your car's body: either on the driver's door when open, inside the fuel release panel or in the glove box. The display sticker will show you the correct pressure for each tyre in PSI or equivalent measurements such as kilopascals (kPa). There will also be recommended pressure levels for normal driving, carrying heavy loads and travelling at high speeds. Remember that the recommended pressure levels are designed to give your car the perfect balance of safety, comfort, handling and fuel efficiency. Some people prefer to set their target pressure slightly higher than the recommended settings: usually around 2 PSI higher. Doing this can improve fuel efficiency and handling but be aware that this may make your car less comfortable while driving.
While at the air pump, check that the displayed pressure setting is correct for your tyres and change it if necessary. Next, check the hose and end fitting to ensure neither has been damaged nor tampered with. If they are faulty, do not use them: report them to the attendant on duty and go to the nearest petrol station. Remove the dust cap from the valve on your first tyre, hold the clasp and attach the end fitting of the hose over the stem, then release the clasp once it is safely over the valve. The pump will automatically adjust the pressure to the level you have set on the display and make an audible alert sound once the correct pressure is reached. Hold the clasp and remove the end fitting from the valve stem. Reattach the dust cap, then repeat the same process for the other three tyres. Also, make sure to check the pressure on your spare tyre in case you need to replace a flat down the road.
Checking your tyre pressure manually
There may be times when you need to check your tyre pressure but cannot reach a petrol station safely. Perhaps after examining your tyres in the driveway, you feel they are too deflated for safe driving. Maybe the nearest petrol station is too far while on a country trip. There are two main pieces of equipment you will need to check your tyres manually in either case. Firstly, you will need a tyre pressure gauge to check your tyres. Secondly, you will need a portable air compressor to fill your tyres should they need it. You should be able to pick up both items at any auto parts store.
To check your tyre pressure accurately, make sure the tyres are cold first. The best time to check is after you have been parked for at least three hours or driven less than 2 km at an average speed. Check the recommended tyre pressure based on your car owner's manual or display sticker. Afterwards, unscrew the cap from your tyre and attach the tyre pressure gauge to determine its current pressure. If the pressure is not at the recommended level, remove the pressure gauge and attach the air compressor. Hold down the leaver if you have an automatic air compressor until an audible alert tells you that the correct pressure level has been reached. If you have a manual compressor, press the lever to let in the air in short bursts while rechecking the pressure at regular intervals. If you overinflate your tyres, push on the valve stem to release some air. Once done, check the pressure gauge once more for accuracy. Then reattach the cap and do the same for each tyre, including any spares.
What to do if your tyres are worn out
You may notice small lines of rubber running over the grooves between the tread on your tyre. These are called tread-wear indicators and will show you when your tyre is worn out. If the tread is worn down to these lines, then the tyre is unroadworthy and needs to be replaced as soon as possible. Any cuts or bulges on the tread or sidewall of the tyre will also mean that your tyres need replacing. It is dangerous to drive with damaged and worn-out tyres, so getting them replaced by a qualified mechanic or tyre specialist is advisable.
If you need to replace a tyre yourself, ensure your safety by reading the owner's manual. First, apply the handbrake and place a brick or similar solid object behind the wheel on the opposite side of the car. Return to the tyre you intend to replace and loosen the wheel's nuts using a wheel brace tool. This tool is usually in the boot of your car. Make sure your jack is firmly in place before using it to lift your vehicle. You should be able to find marked areas for where the jack should go under your car. Use the jack to lift the vehicle and get the tyre off the ground. Under no circumstances should you ever get under the vehicle when it's lifted. Fully remove the lug nuts and when and then replace it with a spare wheel and tyre. Firmly screw on the wheel nuts and lower the jack until the vehicle touches the ground. Check that the nuts are fully tightened and put the damaged wheel back in the boot so that you can repair or replace it later.
Now you know when should tyre pressure be checked. In summary, regularly check at least once a month when your tyres are cold. The autumn and winter months are when should tyre pressure be checked more frequently. Keep a pressure gauge in your boot and take a minute to inspect your tyres whenever you fill your tank. Properly inflated tyres will not only perform better, but they'll last you longer and ensure better safety.