Maintaining correct Tyre Pressures
There are three main reasons why maintaining the right tyre pressure is important. The first is safety. Tyres that are under inflated can overheat; and over inflated tyres can lead to poor vehicle handling on the road.
The second reason is economy. Over or under inflated tyres suffer more damage than those with the correct pressure and need to be replaced more regularly. Vehicles with under-inflated tyres have increased rolling resistance that require more fuel to maintain the same speed.
The third reason for maintaining the correct tyre pressure is the environment. Correct tyre pressures help to maintain optimum fuel efficiency. This can equate to lower Co2 emissions coming from your vehicle than those with incorrect tyre pressures and that has to be good for the environment.
How to check your tyre pressure
To check tyre pressure, use an air pressure gauge. These inexpensive items are available at auto parts stores, petrol stations, or in the automotive section of department stores. Many petrol stations have one that you can borrow in a pinch.
First, consult your owner’s manual or the label inside the driver’s door jamb to find out what the recommended air pressure is for your vehicle. The number is expressed in “psi” or “kpa”. The manufacturer has determined the correct pressure for each vehicle and tyre combination and may also list a “hot” pressure, for when tyres are warm, and a “cold” pressure if you’ve driven just a few km (such as from your home to the petrol station to check your tyre pressure). There may even be special tyre pressure recommendations based on the number of passengers or if the vehicle is used for towing. Importantly, the psi number noted on the sidewall of the tyre is the maximum pressure of the tyre and is not the proper inflation level for the vehicle.
To check the air pressure, unscrew the cap from the tyre’s valve stem and place the round end of the gauge over the stem. Push down with some force to ensure there is a good seal, otherwise the reading will be incorrect (and you may also lose air pressure). To determine what the tyre pressure is, read the numbers and lines on the bottom of the gauge. If you’re not sure the reading is accurate, repeat the procedure one or two more times.
Check all four tyres and add or remove air as needed to equalise the tyre pressures. To add air, use the air compressor at any service station. To remove air, simply use the non-rounded end of your gauge, and push it in to the valve stem. As the valve is being depressed, the escaping air will make a hissing sound. Use the gauge to check the pressure several times until the proper psi reading is reached.