We all know how important our tyres are, but do you actually know when you should check your tyre pressure? When your tyres are inflated correctly, this can help to sustain their lifespan. On the other hand, both over-inflated and under-inflated tyres can pose dangers for your vehicle. That’s why it is so important that you make yourself aware of what the correct tyre pressure level is for your car.
Read on and find out how over-inflated and under-inflated tyres affect your vehicle, and what you can do to keep your tyre pressure at the right level.
How Would Over-inflated Tyres Affect Your Vehicle?
Over-inflated tyres can be dangerous for your vehicle, as they wear unevenly, with the centre of the tyres experiencing the most wear as this is where your tyre tread touches the road most. This means that your tyres will have less traction, and this could cause them to become distorted.
This will also increase your stopping distance, giving you less control over your car’s movements.
How Would Under-inflated Tyres Affect Your Vehicle?
Did you know that tyres that are under-inflated by 20% or more lose approximately one fifth of their lifespan? This is due to the fact that there is a larger surface area of rubber coming in contact with the road, causing the rubber to wear out faster and potentially overheat. This is particularly true for the rubber around the outer section of the tyre.
Not to mention the fact that under-inflated tyres force the rest of your car to work harder, leading to increased fuel consumption. Under-inflated tyres put pressure on several parts – including your vehicle’s suspension, brake lines, and wheels – which could be costly to repair. You will also find it harder to control your steering with under-inflated tyres and be at a higher risk of tyre blowout.
What Can Cause Excessive or Uneven Tyre Wear?
Uneven tyre wear is not only caused by incorrect tyre pressure. Your driving style and the quality of your tyres can have an impact. Similarly, if your wheels aren’t aligned correctly, then this can change the angle at which your tyres meet the ground and wear them out faster.
If you are worried about excessive or uneven tyre wear, there are certain tell-tale signs to look out for which can indicate your tyres are wearing out unevenly:
- Your car is pulling to the side
- Noticeable tyre wear on one side
- Your steering wheel is vibrating
- There are dips in your tyre tread
Be aware of these signs, so that you can avoid the possibility of MOT failure.
When Should You Check Tyre Pressure?
To make sure that your car is as safe as can be, it is advisable that you check your tyre pressure every 2-3 weeks. As of 2014, all new passenger vehicles sold in the EU have to be equipped with a tyre pressure monitoring system, also known as TPMS. This system monitors your tyre pressure and works with your vehicle’s ECU. If your tyre pressure changes or falls, a TPMS warning light will show on your dashboard.
If you notice your TPMS warning light is lit up whilst driving, pull over and perform a manual check using a pressure gauge, to find out if your tyres meet the PSI your vehicle handbook recommends. You can also find this information on the inside of the door frame on the driver’s side, or on the back of your vehicle’s fuel filler flap.
PSI stands for pounds per square inch, referring to the pressure your tyre needs to be at to optimise your vehicle’s performance. You should be able to purchase one of these pressure gauges wherever you usually buy your automotive products. If you do not have a pressure gauge, then your tyre pressure will need to be checked at a garage. Bear in mind that there can be differences in pressure depending on the type of tyres you use. For instance, differing pressures may be required for a soft tyre and a hard tyre. Make sure to check your owner’s manual for further clarification.
If you are planning on checking your tyre pressure at a local petrol station, it is best to do this after only driving a short distance, so that the tyres don’t heat up too much before checking the pressure. If you have driven for more than a couple of miles, you should give your tyres 2 hours before you begin the process.
How Do I Check My Tyre Pressure at a Service Station?
Here’s how to check your tyre pressure using a self-service air pressure pump at a petrol station:
- Remove your tyre valve caps and insert the air pump
- Squeeze the air trigger gently to inflate the tyre until you reach the correct PSI
- To deflate the tyre, gently pull the pump valve a little away from the tyre valve
- Once you reach the correct PSI, replace the tyre valve cap
- Repeat with next tyre
You should check each tyre individually, as they all lose air at different rates.
Once you have adjusted your tyre pressure to the correct level, you will also need to reset the tyre pressure warning system. Each brand is different – there may be an obvious button to press to reset this, or this may be hidden in a menu on the car’s user interface software. To find out where your car’s reset button is, refer to your owner’s manual. You may have to take your car to a main dealer so that they can perform a software update and reset for you.
Keep your tyre pressure at the correct level for your vehicle, and this could make your vehicle more fuel efficient, and improve your braking distances.
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