Keeping your tires properly inflated has many benefits. Your tires will wear evenly, which prolongs their life and can improve your vehicle’s fuel economy. When correctly inflated, your tires can perform at their best which means better handling, dependable traction and a more comfortable ride for you.
Overinflation vs. Underinflation
Overinflated tires are rigid and stiff causing the tire’s contact with the road to be reduced. That leads to a “harder” ride as well as uneven tread wear. The most common type of uneven tread wear due to overinflation is referred to as “center wear.” Exactly what it sounds like, the center of the tire will be smooth and worn down while there will be more tread on the sides of the tire. Due to the rigidity of an overinflated tire, it can be more easily damaged by everyday road hazards such as potholes and imperfections in the road.
Underinflated tires do not hold their shape and are flatter to the ground. Therefore, more of the tire comes in contact with the road, causing the shoulders of the tire to wear prematurely. There will be a strip of normal tread down the center of the tire while the shoulders of the tire will be smooth and worn down. Underinflated tires are more flexible when they roll, leading to increased rolling resistance and therefore a decrease in fuel economy.
Proper Tire Pressure and Safety
Maintaining proper tire pressure is important for many reasons other than reducing the potential of a flat tire or a blowout. In order to achieve optimum handling from your vehicle, from everyday driving to making emergency maneuvers, tire pressure needs to be at the proper inflation level. Even a tire that doesn’t appear to be low on air can result in reduced vehicle handling. Tires with excessive or uneven tread wear can also lead to an accident.
Maintaining Adequate Tire Pressure
There are basic maintenance steps you can take to be sure that your tires maintain their most efficient pressure overall. Check your owner’s manual for the proper PSI for your tires or look at the information printed on the tire itself. Keep an air pressure gauge in your glove box and learn the proper way to use it to check the PSI.
Check your tire pressure first thing in the morning before you drive. Check the pressure in hot weather and cold weather, as extreme temperatures can cause alterations in your air pressure. Every time the season changes, you should double check your tire pressure and add or remove air as necessary.
Finally, as part of your routine maintenance, you should be sure that you have your tires rotated. This will ensure that they continue to wear evenly so you don’t have traction or fuel economy issues. Keeping tires properly inflated goes far beyond the benefits of better fuel economy and other cost savings. It can, in fact, lead to saving your life by reducing the risks of blowouts and accidents from environmental factors and stopping distance.