With cold weather upon us, now’s the time to think about winter safety and critical maintenance on our cars. In addition to checking your car’s oil, coolant, and washer fluid, and making sure to fill your fuel tank before any serious storm hits, there is one other thing you should be sure to do. For the safety of yourself and everyone else on the road, check your tire pressure.
What Cold Weather Does to Your Tires
Why is it so important to check your tire pressure now that it’s gotten cold? For the same reason you should check your tire pressure in the heat of the summer: Temperature affects tire pressure. In the summer, warm air expands, causing the pressure to increase. Cold weather causes the pressure to decrease. That means if you haven’t checked your tire pressure since cold weather hit, you’re almost certainly driving on underinflated tires.
The Dangers of Driving on Underinflated Tires
You may have heard that underinflated tires can cause your fuel economy to decrease, as well as damage the tires. While this is true, it’s only a small part of the reasoning behind checking your tire pressure in the winter. Underinflated tires also can alter the handling of your vehicle, making it more likely you’ll lose control. Underinflated tires also overheat more easily, which can lead to tread separation.
How to Check Your Tire Pressure
Knowing how to check your tire pressure is a skill that every driver should have, as it should be done once a month, especially in the winter.
- First and foremost, you should always check tire pressure first thing in the morning, before driving anywhere. This ensures you’re getting a ‘‘cold’’ reading.
- Locate the car manufacturer’s recommendation for proper tire pressure, usually inside the driver’s door or in the owner’s manual. Ignore the PSI rating on the tire itself, which is the maximum pressure for the tire.
- If there is a cap on the valve stem, remove it and put it in a safe place.
- Insert the tire pressure gauge, taking care to keep it tight against the valve. If you have it crooked, you won’t get a good seal and may get an inaccurate reading. A sustained “pssst” sound means you are letting air out of the tire; take the gauge off and try again.
- Repeat a couple of times; checking to make sure the readings are consistent.
- Add or release air as necessary to match the manufacturer’s recommendation for your vehicle.
- Replace the valve stem cap.
That’s it! If you need access to air, you can purchase a cigarette lighter-powered air compressor or locate a gas station (preferably within a mile so you can keep the tires cold) that offers air. If all this feels overwhelming to you, don’t worry! Just bring your car down to i25 Kia and we’ll take care of it for you.
- Posted by Rochelle Reynolds
- On December 28, 2016