When it comes to tires, there are a lot of ways to maintain and extend the life of them. The most important thing that we can do ourselves is often the most neglected. A tire is a round rubber tube that when inflated, carries the weight of your vehicle and provides grip to the road. Proper tire inflation is important in many ways for your automobile and your personal safety.
Fuel Efficiency – Believe it or not, changing your tire pressure can change how efficient your car is. Driving your car with under-inflated tires creates more drag forcing it to work harder to go. This causes your fuel mileage or MPG to go down significantly. Think about it. Does it take more effort to push a car with inflated tires or flat tires? Pumping the tires up creates less rolling resistance, a term used more and more in the tire industry. Rolling resistance is the amount of resistance a tire puts on the road.
Tire Wear – Proper tire inflation has a big effect on tire wear. Under-inflating the tires will cause more road resistance as stated before. Low tire pressure will generate more heat and drag, thus wearing the tire out faster. A tire with low pressure wear will be worn on the shoulders. Over-inflation of tires will also cause tires to wear out faster. Although there may be less rolling resistance, the contact patch of the tire is much smaller, yet carrying the same weight. The contact patch is the section of tire gripping the road at any one time. Tires that have been over-inflated generally wear prematurely and more so in the very center of the tire.
Traction – Most consumers tend to worry most about either the MPG or the wear they are getting out of their tires. In reality our safety should be the priority. Tires that are both under and over-inflated do not provide the proper grip for any vehicle flying down the road. Every auto manufacturer has precise specifications as to what the tires should be inflated to. Most cars, trucks, vans, SUVs and CUVs will have a sticker in the driver’s side door jamb with the exact psi (pounds per square inch) to pump your tires up to.
It’s important to maintain a proper balance when inflating your tires. Fuel efficiency, tire wear and the amount of traction your tire provides on the road are all essential. The car manufacturers take away all of the guesswork and provide you with all the information you need in order to maintain that balance. Most automotive shops are ready and willing to check your tire pressure at any time for free. Each time you drive your car, be sure to take a quick stroll around it to see if any tires are low or flat. And remember, it is up to you to check your air pressure frequently, at least once a month at the minimum, to get the best results out of your tires.