Your tyres arguably are one of the most important items on your vehicle for keeping you safe. Tyres make sure you are stable on the road whilst also keeping you moving. Let’s be honest, without functioning tyres the vehicle can’t take you anywhere! So how do you check your tyre pressure, when should you increase tyre pressure, and why is it so important in keeping you safe?
You may have a tyre pressure gauge at home, but if you don’t then most petrol stations have them. Most of the time they are free but sometimes they cost a small fee.
When using a pressure gauge at a petrol station make sure you park close enough to the pressure gauge that it’ll reach all 4 tyres, or just the 2 if you have a motorbike. Whether you use a petrol station machine or a gauge you have at home, follow the below steps to learn how to check tyre pressure:
1. Look in either the driver’s door trim or the passenger door trim to find a sticker showing what pressure your tyres should be. If you have a motorbike then there should be a sticker on the body of the bike, but if not, you will be able to find your tyre pressure in your owner’s manual.
There will be multiple options depending on the weight or amount of people you usually drive with. Most modern cars will usually suggest that your tyres should be between 32 psi to 35 psi. If it’s a vehicle that doesn’t show tyre pressure in psi then you can simply do a quick internet search to convert it into psi.
2. Once you know what pressure you want your tyres, then set the machine to the pressure you want i.e. 32 psi.
3. Remove the valve dust cap from the tyre valve and put the pressure gauge onto the tyre valve securely so that you can no longer hear air releasing from the tyre.
4. Once the gauge is firmly and evenly placed on the valve you will get an accurate reading of the current tyre pressure. The machine will then either inflate or deflate depending on what psi you put into the machine at the beginning.
5. The machine will let you know that your tyre is now inflated to the pressure it needs to be. Put the dust cap back on the valve and repeat on the other 3 tyres.
Once you know how to do it, it’s an easy task. But how often do you check tyre pressure? We would always advise you to check your tyre pressure regularly, and in some modern vehicles you will get a warning light on your dashboard telling you to check your tyre pressure. If your vehicle doesn’t tell you, then we would advise checking your tyre pressure once a month if you drive a lot, and once every 3 months if you drive a moderate amount. Checking your tyres before a long journey is also important. It should also be included when getting your car ready for the winter.
As mentioned above, you should be able to find what your tyre pressure is by looking in either the driver’s door trim or the passengers. If you have a motorbike, there will either be a sticker somewhere on the body of the motorbike or you can find it in your owner’s manual.
Your tyre pressure however, does depend on what tyre size you have chosen to have on your vehicle. All tyres come with a number on them that identifies the type of tyre, tread width, diameter, speed rating and more. The tyre size therefore affects the amount of air that it needs to be filled with.
There are many types of tyre pressure tools online, but we find this one from KwikFit the most useful. Just type in your registration number and it will give you all the tyre pressures for all the different tyre sizes that can be fitted to your car. Your tyre size will be written clearly on the side of your tyres for you to find the correct pressure for your tyres.
Tyre pressure should be checked when your tyres are cold. Which means you shouldn’t have driven the vehicle for several hours before checking your tyre pressure. This is because the pressure inside your tyres increases as they heat up. Which means if you pump up your tyres when they are warm, their pressure will probably be too low and therefore not safe.
If you check tyre pressure at petrol stations, then we would advise going to your nearest petrol station to home so that you’ve only travelled a short distance, keeping your tyres as cold as possible.
If your tyres are under inflated, then it could be dangerous. This is because tyres will flex more as they get hotter if they are under inflated. This means getting a flat tyre is more likely.
If your tyres are under inflated, then you will need to leave a larger stopping distance to keep you safe. It will also affect the way your vehicle handles, and could cause steering problems, which makes collisions more likely!
Because of the way an under inflated tyre sits on the road it will mean that the tyre tread will not wear evenly, in fact it will wear mostly on the edges of the tread. It will also increase your tyres rolling resistance, which is the amount of energy needed to move the tyre over a distance, which would increase fuel consumption.
Just like under inflated tyres, over inflated tyres can cause safety risks and also your tyres to wear unevenly. Although over inflating your tyres won’t increase the risk of getting a flat tyre, the high pressure will make the ride harsher and more uncomfortable for all. Only ever reduce the pressure in the tyres to what is recommended.
The dangers of over inflation include they tyres wearing in the centre of the tread and not the centre and the outside, meaning they will wear unevenly and need to be changed more frequently. It also means your tyres will have less contact area with the road which will reduce traction and grip, meaning you will have less control of the road whilst driving.
Ensuring your tyres are inflated correctly and to the right pressure will keep them in good condition for longer, and in turn costing you less. It is also extremely important to check your tread on your tyres so that they also have enough grip and traction on the road. Looking after your car, van or motorbike, goes a long way in helping you keep your vehicles value and keeping you safe on the road.