Your car or bike is a symbol of who you are. It is important that you take pride in it. So, to ensure this car or bike is well taken off, the most simple and basic step is a proper tyre pressure maintenance. They must always be at optimum inflation levels.
Deterring from this can lead to a lot of problems ranging from uneven wearing out of tyres to low fuel efficiency and poor vehicle performance. Low pressures of inflation also are detrimental of vehicular safety through prevention of bursts and blowouts.
What should my Tyre pressure be?
There is no common “correct” tyre pressure value for all tyres. The appropriate value varies according to multiple aspects dynamically. Vehicle manufacturers arrive at the recommended value based on tests and extrapolation methodologies. The most significant influencers are:
- Type (eg: standard or performance, summer or winter, radial or bias etc.)
- Load bearing capacity
- Terrain or road condition
- Style of driving
How much air is supposed to be in a tyre?
Tyre pressure of your vehicle must adhere to the suggested value according to the manufacturer. For cars, this value can be found on the side of the driver’s seat door and usually is in the range of 27 to 32 PSI.
Another thing to keep in mind is, as you increase the load you will need to increase the inflation pressure as well. But this must not go beyond the maximum rate for that particular tyre.
Similarly for terrain, if you are planning a trip and will encounter uneven surfaces, a lower pressure with lower speed is recommended.
Note: Bar is an alternative measure of pressure. 1 bar is equal to about 14.5 PSI. 2.3 bar is equivalent to 34 PSI. 2.4 bar is equivalent to 35 PSI.
What is the difference between hot and cold tyre pressure?
The tyre pressure of your vehicle varies dramatically with the change in temperature. Usually, a cold tyre is that which has not been run for 3 or more hours. This provides an accurate pressure reading.
The Tyre pressure will be higher when hot. The pressure increases by 1 PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit increase in ambient temperature.
During cold weather, tyre pressure can lose almost 1 PSI for every drop in 10 degrees Fahrenheit temperature. To remedy this, drive it for a little while (less than 2 km) and then check it again. If it is still less than top up with air.
How to check the Tyre pressure?
Checking tyre pressure is easy enough and only takes a little amount of time,
- Acquire a recommended and reliable measuring gauge
- Measurement is essential to be done either before driving in the morning or at least 3 hours after you have stopped driving.
- Remove the cap. This cap does not prevent air leak but protects the tube duct from moisture and dust so ensure you do not lose it
- Insert the gauge into the nozzle. Every gauge operates differently. Follow the instruction manual of the gauge purchased and evaluate the reading. A digital gauge will be convenient as it will directly provide the air pressure in PSI.
- In case of a short ‘pssst’ sound, don’t worry. This is the sound of air escaping for a short interval. This will not have much effect on the reading unless the gauge is held inside for a much longer period of time
- Refer the recommended pressure values available on the inner driver’s door to analyze whether your reading is above, same or below.
- According to the result decide either to let out extra air or add some more.
Important Tip: You should check the air pressure in your tyres every fortnight or at least once a month. It is important to note that tyres must not be checked after they have been ridden. So you should wait at least three hours after driving to get an accurate reading.
Why do I keep losing air in my tyres?
The reasons why a loss of air pressure occurs is not very obvious. Most commonly, loss happens due to any extra or surplus load on the vehicle.
Multiple other reasons include diffusion through microscopic pores or osmosis of oxygen through the membrane as the concentration in the environment is lower.
There is also evidence that during summer, the rate of air loss is faster. Hence, more frequent checks are required during this time. Tyres can lose up to 1 PSI every month.
What are the effects of low tyre pressure?
Having low tyre pressure can be extremely bad for your tyres. Readings reaching 5 to 10 PSI lower than the recommended value is considered dangerously low. The following are the consequences:
- Lower resistance to rolling implying higher fuel consumption
- The vehicle exhibits an extended braking length on wet roads
- Makes the vehicle difficult to handle. Parking especially is known to become harder
- Faster and uneven rate of wear and tear leading to a potential for puncture or burst
Important Tip: Low pressures make driving on uneven surfaces smoother. Hence drivers sometimes lower it on purpose before off-roading. This is safe only for a short period of time. Low tyre pressure can be fixed through filling with air from an air pump until the recommended levels
How high should my tyre pressure be?
Having high tyre pressure is also bad for the vehicle as well as the occupants. The gauge must reflect the recommended levels for the front and rear tyres.
In case of highway driving or higher load 1 or 2 PSI above the recommended level can be filled. But this must be brought back to normal once the load is removed.
If the tyre pressure or the air in your tyres is too high then the consequences are,
- Low grip as surface contact is lowered
- Bumpy ride leading to greater wear of car suspension
- Higher vehicle-road noise level
- Lower driving control
- Uneven wear and tear
When it comes to maintaining your vehicles, everything from oil changes to regular maintenance is given their due importance. Tyres are in most cases ignored and not imperative in anyone’s thinking including driving enthusiasts.
This attitude must change and you must remember that a simple routine of checking your tyre pressure can go a long way in bettering your entire car or bike experience.