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Recommended Tire Pressure
When it comes to protecting your “big ticket” investments, manufacturer guidelines and recommendations are absolutely critical. This is especially true when it comes to your vehicle. Even if you have a top-of-the-line automobile, or the highest quality parts, it will not matter if you don’t take care of them in the right way. This is especially true for tires. Tires are vital for proper handling, traction, stability, and strength. And when it comes to safety, one of the most important components is the only one that is completely and utterly invisible – a ir. It is the air tire pressure inside these tires that supports the weight of your vehicle along with the people who ride in it.
Here at VIP, we know that the life of the tires in our exceptional tire selection (one of the biggest in New England) is contingent on how people take care of them. If you are looking for the best tires on the market, whether its Ultra-High Performance (UHP) tires or heavy-duty winter tires, you need to ensure you have the recommended inflation pressure in place. Since our staff and ASE certified technicians want to help you get the most from your tires, we want to share our knowledge so that you understand how to extend the life of your tires as well as we do.
If you have already read our article on checking your tire pressure, you may be ready to dive a bit deeper into the world of tire pressure, and learn why it’s so important to get the perfect balance.
The exact nature of air tire pressure
When it comes to air tire pressure, many of us are driving with improperly inflated tires. This is likely due to a general lack of understanding about tire pressure, and the accuracy that is required for optimal tire performance. Pressure c an’t be too low and it can’t be too high. It needs to be just right.
Before exploring the ramifications for each side of the inflation spectrum, it’s important to know how inflation is measured. You’ll see a psi number on the sidewall of every tire. This measures the pounds per square inch (psi) that the tire can hold at the maximum cold inflation pressure (i.e. check tire pressure in the morning and before you drive, and never when the car has been sitting in the hot sun). This maximum recommended tire pressure is usually higher than the vehicle manufacturers’ recommendations, so be sure to follow vehicle-specific guidelines for safety and performance.
Many of us think we can easily spot a tire that is overinflated or underinflated, and simply modify the tire pressure as needed. This guesswork may lead to some more serious problems down the road.
If your air tire pressure is low by 6 psi, you may be at risk for tire failure. This is because 6 psi is close to 20% of your recommended tire pressure. The shape of a tire cannot be supported with such low tire pressure levels, and will become much flatter than it is supposed to be. When this flatter tire is driven on the road, it will start to bend. This boosts rolling resistance and internal heat while decreasing your fuel economy to upwards of 5%. A flattened tire can also reduce the tire tread (essential for handling, especially in inclement weather) by 25%. When you combine all of these factors, it is understandable why you will not be able to steer your vehicle in an optimal way. When you lose some of your steering and cornering capabilities, you are putting yourself in an unnecessarily vulnerable position on the road.
A tire with a little extra air is better than a tire with too little, right? You may be surprised to learn this is not the case! Using the same scale of 6 psi, when you go over the recommended inflation pressure by this amount, even the best tires get unpredictable. They simply can’t make as close of contact with the road. Wet driving conditions can become challenging, harsher rides are more common, and you run the risk of inflicting more damage on your tires if you hit a pothole or other object in the road. This being said, some people that participate in car racing (i.e. autocross, track events) may boost their tire air pressure to improve cornering stability and steering capabilities. However, this only helps to a certain point, and is not a recommended strategy for most drivers. The bottom line is overinflated tires will force you into a state of overcompensation, where you will have to modify your speeds or driving habits to get the performance you want. It’s much faster (and safer) to inflate your tires properly .
What should tire pressure be?
Now that you know what to avoid, it’s time to make sure you have the proper tire pressure for your vehicle. Most automobiles today have a tire air pressure range of 30 to 35 psi, with light truck tire pressures scaling a bit higher. It is important that you follow the guidelines that are specific for your vehicle to ensure the highest level of performance.
Newer cars (made after 2003) will have the recommended tire pressure on a placard located on the B-pillar, more commonly known as the driver’s side doorjamb. This will detail the proper tire pressure levels ( intended to be measured cold before the car is driven or in hotter afternoon temperatures), the Original Equipment tire sizes, and vehicle weight capacity. For older vehicles, look for your placard on the rear passenger doorjamb, fuel filler door, glove box, engine compartment, or center console door. If you are having trouble locating this placard or have more specific questions (including accommodating certain variable factors), rely on VIP. We are happy to point you in the right direction.
Above all, you need to remember that your tire pressure is constantly changing. You cannot set your correct levels once and forget about it. Your air tire pressure can change in extreme temperatures, between the daytime and nighttime hours, and generally over time. Tire pressure decreases about every 1 psi every month. If you think back to the last time you checked your air tire pressure, you may realize just how far off your inflation can be. This is why you should check your tire pressure each month, and before long car trips. Finally, winter weather should be a major consideration for drivers, especially here in New England. The cold weather impacts tire pressure drastically, and it’s not uncommon to have underinflated tires without even realizing it. This can cause subpar vehicle performance (i.e. traction) when you need it the most. Make sure to check your tire pressure weekly in the cold winter months.
Ensure proper tire pressure at VIP
Whether you are simply looking for a tire pressure gauge, want a skilled technician to do it, or need to discuss some specific concerns about your vehicle or tire air pressure, you’ll find everything you need at VIP. We have wheels and tires from over 28 manufacturers, and our customers deeply value our unbeatable offers like the Lifetime Tire and Alignment package our VIP 30 Day Ride Guarantee, VIP Road Hazard Replacement Guarantee and our 200% Low Price Tire Guarantee. More importantly, we help you focus on things such as proper tire pressure to extend the life of your vehicle and its parts, and have the safest and smoothest ride possible. Call or visit VIP today!