Tire pressure is something that is frequently overlooked by vehicle owners. However, it is an essential part of a proper maintenance regimen, dictating such things as tire life, fuel efficiency, and even safety. Every vehicle owner should know how to perform this simple task and should do so on a regular basis.
With that established, the question is then how to go about doing that. Follow the steps listed below and you will be well on your way to keeping your vehicle in good working order.
1) Know Your Stuff
All tires are not created equal. While you probably don’t have specialty tires, the specifics of your particular equipment will vary. Establishing what the specific pressure your tire needs is the first step before you do anything else. It’s important to look in the proper place, which is not located on the tire itself (ignore any mention of pressure on the tire). To get the proper number, you need to look at the card information located on your vehicle. This can be found on a sticker attached to the inner door jamb of your driver’s side door. This card contains a variety of useful pieces of information, including the target tire inflation for front and rear tires. The unit of measurement for this pressure is “psi” (pounds of pressure per square inch). Once you have this information, you are ready to move forward.
2) Check The Pressure
The method by which you check your pressure can vary from vehicle to vehicle. Modern vehicles usually have digital pressure sensors that display on your information screen, located in the instrument cluster (where your speedometer is) or on a central display on the dash (where your music controls are). If you have these systems, look through your settings for ‘vehicle info’ or something similar or refer to your owner’s manual for instructions on how to navigate to it.
If your vehicle is older, you may have to check it manually. You will need a tire pressure gauge (it looks like a sonic screwdriver) and you will need to locate the pressure valve on your tire. Unscrew the cap and then push the gauge firmly on to the valve. There should be a brief hiss, followed by a measurement on the gauge (a thing that looks like a ruler should pop out of the bottom). Read the measurement and take note of it, you will need to repeat this process for each tire.
Note: You should aim to check your tires at the beginning of the day before you drive anywhere. Driving and temperature changes outside can temporarily affect the pressure inside the tire and give you a false reading.
3) Pressurize to Taste
Checking tire pressure is usually done to prevent problems related to a loss in pressure, although over-inflated tires are a problem as well. Ensure that yours are inflated within the specifications you found on the card. If your tires happen to be over-inflated, simply push the gauge or the end of a tire pump into the valve and release pressure until it is correct.
Assuming your issue is under-inflation, you will need to add air to the tires. Locate the tire valves as described in step two above. Remove the caps and then apply the end of a tire pump (home air compressor or commercial compressor at a gas station) onto the valve. Air should flow into the tire and you will see and feel it inflating. Stop and check it periodically to ensure it doesn’t become over-inflated. When all tires are reading the correct pressure, replace the valve caps and call it a day.
That’s it! Checking and adjusting your tire pressure is a snap and it can make a big difference in your vehicle’s performance and long-term maintenance needs. If you make it a habit to do this regularly, you will avoid potential headaches down the road.
If you experience problems with checking or inflating your tires, or trouble with maintaining pressure, we invite you to give us a call at 941-924-6199 or stop by the shop at 6503 Gateway Avenue in Sarasota. We are Car Care Connection and we would be happy to assist you with your automotive needs.