Learn the proper way to check your tire pressure
In our second instalment of our car care video series, self-proclaimed car novice and CAA staff member Karla, learns how to properly check tire pressure, and the consequences if you don’t.
Checking your tire pressure regularly is an important part of maintaining your vehicle’s health. And it doesn’t count if you just look at them. Pulling out that tire pressure gauge every time you fill up the gas tank is an easy way to keep your car rolling down the road smoothly, and could even save you a few bucks at the pump.
How? Simple. When a tire doesn’t have enough air in it, rolling resistance is increased, and the result is a decrease in fuel efficiency. Keeping enough air in the tires also helps optimize contact with the road, resulting in more even handling. You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated properly according to a study done in the US.
Overinflating your tires can be just as dangerous. When tires are filled too full, only the centre strip of the tire meets the road surface, reducing grip on the road and putting your safety at risk. It can also make it harder to stop.
So how do you know if your car’s tires are properly inflated? You check. The best time to check your tire pressure is after the vehicle has been stationary for a period of time, or has only been driven a few kilometres. Before beginning, make sure you know the proper pressure amounts for your vehicle. They can usually be found on a sticker on the inside of the driver side door, or in your owner’s manual. Do not go by the number listed on the sidewall of the tire. That is the maximum pressure of the tire, and not the proper inflation level.
Once you’ve determined the proper pressure amounts for your tires, it’s time to pull out that tire pressure gauge. If you don’t already own one, they can easily be found at many gas stations or in the automotive section of department stores.
Begin by unscrewing the dust cap from the tire’s valve stem. Then place the round end of the gauge over the stem and push down with enough force to ensure a good seal. Read the numbers and lines on the bottom of the gauge to determine the current pressure of the tire. Or, if you have a digital tire gauge, read the number on the display.
Make sure you check all four tires and add or remove air as needed, checking frequently with the tire gauge to make sure the pressure is correct. Don’t forget to check your spare tire as well if your vehicle has one. The last thing you want in case of a flat tire is to find out your spare is flat as well!
If you do find yourself with a completely flat tire, don’t fret. CAA is here to help. CAA Members can give us a call at 1-800-222-4357 and we’ll come and change the tire for you. You can also request Roadside Assistance online or using the CAA Mobile App.