As a driver, it is important that you learn the optimum tire pressure for your vehicle and fill your tires to the factory recommended pressure setting. Doing so will improve handling on the road, prevent blow-outs, allow for smoother rides and lengthen the life of your tires.
Tire pressure is measured in PSI, or pounds per square inch. You will find the maximum pressure listed in PSI’s on each tire sidewall, as shown below.
Maximum PSI indicates the tire’s maximum pressure needed to carry your vehicle’s maximum load. However, maximum pressure is NOT recommended by Fleet Services or any manufacturer. Over-inflation of tires can cause uneven wear, a rougher ride, poor handling & braking and in the worst cases, increase the risk of a blow-out.
Optimum tire pressure
So, what do you do when you see the low tire pressure indicator flash on your dashboard? First, look for your vehicle’s optimal tire pressure, which is listed on the driver’s door jamb and also in your vehicle owner’s manual. Optimal tire pressure for most vehicles is between 30 and 35 PSI.
Once you have found the optimal pressure, you can find an air pressure pump at your local gas station and follow the instructions, being careful to read the gauge properly and not over-inflate. For convenience, you may also take your vehicle to most any auto shop and have it done for you, free of charge.
Filling with “cold pressure”
Regardless of the method, it is vital that you fill your vehicle with “cold pressure.” This simply means not filling after extensive driving; instead, do it first thing in the morning or after your vehicle has been parked in a shady spot for 2-3 hours.
“Cold pressure” is an important control factor recommended by the industry because temperature affects PSI. In the summer, it is dangerous to over-fill because tire pressure rises in warm weather. On the other hand, in the cold winter months, your tire pressure drops about 1 PSI for every 10 degree drop in temperature. Over-inflation presents its own safety hazards, and under-inflation can lead to poor fuel economy, reduced handling and premature wear from too much flexing and being over-loaded.
Now that you know more about tire pressure, all you have to do is periodically check your tires. Even if the low-pressure indicator hasn’t flashed on your dashboard in awhile, it is recommended that you check your tire pressure once every 30 days. You can do this at an auto shop or by purchasing a small pressure gauge and stowing it in the glovebox.
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