Best Air Pressure For Car Tires – The old saying “where the rubber meets the road” usually means that something will reach a critical point. Naturally the expression refers to car tires, as those precious pieces of rubber are the only part of your car or truck that should be in constant contact with the pavement. That’s why it’s important to know and maintain the right amount of air pressure in your car’s tires.
To get the correct value, turn not to the tire itself but to your car and a label that is usually found on its door jamb. There you can find the vehicle manufacturer’s suggested inflation rate for your car or truck. If it’s not there, check the owner’s manual. Recently, a reader asked why tire sidewalls often display a pressure rating, shown in maximum pounds per square inch (psi), that differs from the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation. This may be obvious to racing enthusiasts and mechanics, but not all motorists understand all the nuances. So we turned to some of the experts.
Best Air Pressure For Car Tires
Tire makers start with a set of standards, set by the Tire and Rim Association (TRA) in the United States and the European Tire and Rim Technical Organization (ETRTO) across the pond, and use their development guidelines. of maximum psi and maximum tire size load levels.
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“There’s a load/inflation table for every tire size in the universe,” said Bob Toth, director of industry relations at Goodyear. But all cars and trucks are different weights and sizes, and they handle and perform differently, Toth said. Auto manufacturers assign ideal tire pressures based on factors such as how much a car or truck loads on its left front tire during a right turn at 60 mph, for example. Some cars and trucks have different recommended pressure levels for the front and rear tires, even in all-wheel-drive vehicles.
In the offices just now (pictured above), you can read a maximum pressure of 51 psi, but the automaker recommends 33 psi (shown on the sticker below) for both front and rear tires. Sarah Robinson, a driver safety expert at Michelin, said that the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure level started at the beginning of the vehicle development process. Tire engineers from companies like Michelin will work alongside automakers’ engineers using TRA and ETRTO guidelines. “You adjust the pressures to fit the air envelope that those tires allow,” says Robinson. “So the maximum pressure is exactly that, but within that, there’s the perfect pressure to maximize the vehicle’s performance.”
Through rigorous testing, a vehicle’s recommended tire pressure is determined, with the idea of balancing considerations of performance, fuel efficiency, safety, and overall longevity.
“Inflation pressure affects every aspect of a tire, including load-carrying capacity, shape of the tread contact patch—where the tire touches the road—and size and handling characteristics.” — Keith Willcome, Bridgestone
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But how important is that number? Should it be tweaked for certain situations? For most buyers who aren’t going to a racetrack or following the rules for towing a trailer, the answer is definitely no. “I can’t stress enough the importance of proper tire inflation pressure,” said Keith Willcome, sales engineering manager for the Americas at Bridgestone. “Inflation pressure affects every aspect of a tire, including load-carrying capacity, shape of the tread contact patch—where the tire touches the road—and size and handling characteristics.”
If a tire is underinflated, more heat is generated inside it, and this can cause structural damage, Willcome said. An underinflated tire also cannot absorb shock, making it more vulnerable to road hazards such as potholes. Furthermore, the tire’s contact patch—where the rubber meets the road—is not the right shape. This puts more wear and tear on the tire shoulders, the rounded areas of the tire between the sidewall and the tread. The tire will also likely have less grip if underinflated, Willcome said.
An overinflated tire can have less grip, too. And it can affect handling, because the overcoated tire doesn’t properly absorb impacts, which can send more force to the vehicle’s suspension. Overinflation also shrinks the tires’ footprint, which can increase wear in the center of the tread.
The key to maintaining proper tire pressure is checking the psi levels at least once a month, according to tire companies we spoke to and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). But who really does this? Not many people. NHTSA estimates that only 19 percent of consumers properly check and inflate their tires, even though tires tend to be inflated by about 1 psi a month. About a quarter of all cars have at least one tire that is significantly underinflated, according to the agency.
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A quick and easy way to check tire pressure is with a handheld tire-pressure gauge, which usually costs less than $10 at an auto-parts store. You simply unscrew the tire valve cap, plug in the gauge, and wait for a reading. If you don’t want to mess with that, tire shops will often check the pressure for you, and some gas stations have digital readouts as part of their air pumps. It is best to check tires when they are cold, meaning they have not been driven for some time.
All cars and trucks from model year 2008 and later (as well as some older) have tire pressure monitoring systems, and some report the current tire pressure directly on the panel of the driver’s instrument. But many such systems don’t notify the driver until the tire pressure is too low, with a warning light that doesn’t come on until the tire is 25 percent underinflated.
“When that warning light comes on, that means you have a quick leak or you’ve been driving for gosh knows how long with a flat tire,” Toth said.
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Top Rated Summer Tires for Sports Cars and Sedans, Nokian Unveils All-Season Tires for North Americans Eddie Van Halen Cut Out Tires, Hyundai Sonata Gets New Ones Too Standard Features When you maintain proper tire pressure, you ensure that your tires will last longer. On the other hand, improper tire inflation can result in rapid or irregular wear, which can cause significant damage to the inner tire, and can lead to sudden tire failure and result in serious injury.
Watch this how-to video to make sure you know how to check tire pressure so you can maintain the correct level of pressure in your vehicle’s tires.
You should check the tire pressure at least once a month. Make this part of your monthly maintenance because on average, tires lose about 1 pound per square inch (PSI) of tire pressure each month. PSI refers to the minimum amount of air pressure needed to support your vehicle at its maximum load.
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Tire pressure can also change dramatically in winter temperatures. For every 10 degrees F change in ambient temperature, tire pressure will change by approximately 1 PSI. So you always check the pressure when the tires are cold, meaning they haven’t been driven for at least three hours. The summary of the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association of major tire care reiterates the importance of proper inflation.
Drivers who want to check their tire pressure during National Tire Safety Week or before a summer road trip are invited to visit any Bridgestone Retail Operations store –Firestone Complete Auto Care, Tires Plus, Hibdon Tires Plus, and WheelWorks – for free tire pressure analysis and tread analysis. Tire assessments and pressure checks are provided courtesy of all Bridgestone retail store associates every day of operation, year-round.
Use a tire pressure gauge to make sure your tires have the proper inflation pressure, and then fill your tires with air as needed. Many people mistakenly think that the correct inflation pressure is on the sidewall of the tire. Listed on the sidewall is the maximum inflation pressure for the tire, but keeping your tires at maximum PSI can accelerate their wear or compromise your traction or braking capabilities;
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But, what tire pressure is too high, and what is considered low tire pressure? What happens if you exceed the recommended levels?
All information related to recommended psi for tires can be found on the sidewall of the tire. On the sidewall, you’ll see a small section that says “max press”. Usually, manufacturers describe the maximum pressure in both kPa and psi.
However, running your tires at max psi is not ideal. That number is simple
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