There are some basic rules of maintenance for a car that a mechanic can easily handle for you. Maintenance and car safety go together more than you think. Things like changing the oil, rotating the tires, and checking the fluids are things you can do on your own, but sometimes it’s nice just to let someone else deal with it.
Then there are the things that don’t necessarily require a mechanic, like checking your tire pressure. With portable air pumps, you can fill your tires with air without having to call your mechanic to deal with, but how much is too much? CARFAX has all the details about how to fill your tires correctly.
How do I know I need to fill my tires with air?
A flat tire is the most obvious sign your tire may need more air, but it might be too late by that point. Thankfully, there are a few ways to tell if you need to check the tire pressure before you end up stranded on the road’s side.
This will be a lot easier if you drive a new vehicle, thanks to a built-in tire pressure monitor. If your tire pressure is too low, then one of those dreaded dashboard lights will come on. According to CARFAX, “It’s usually yellow or orange and looks like a cross-section of a tire with an exclamation point or the letters “TPMS,” which stands for Tire Pressure Monitoring System.”
If you see this light, don’t panic. It merely means you need to fill your tires with some air and isn’t that big of a deal if you take action. However, it’s essential to deal with it as soon as possible, so don’t put it off.
If you have an older car that doesn’t have one of those fancy lights on the dashboard, there are other ways to check your tire pressure.
One way is to keep an eye on your tires. If it’s looking lower than the other tires, you most likely need to add some air. This isn’t the best way to go about checking the pressure, however, since by the time your tires look low, they’re dangerously low, and you’re in danger of having an accident.
The third method is to use a tire gauge to check the tire pressure. You’ll need to do this regardless of whether you see the tires look a little low or your TPMS light is flashing, since you’ll need to fill the tires, and you don’t want to overfill them. Using a tire pressure gauge might seem straightforward, but it’s all too easy to use it incorrectly. The best time to do this is when you haven’t been driving for a few hours, so you get an accurate reading.
Why does it matter if my tires are a little low?
Between taking your kids to school, dealing with work, picking up groceries, and trying to fit in vet appointments for your pets, life is insanely busy. Then the TPMS light goes off on your dashboard, and you feel like you’ll blow a gasket. You don’t have the time to deal with this and might wonder if you can put it off until tomorrow.
Unfortunately, this is something you need to deal with right now. A tire with low pressure is not something you can ignore, and here’s why.
CARFAX reports, “When tire pressure is too low, the tire has greater contact with the road, and the tire’s sidewalls flex more.
This causes extra friction, which leads to increased wear and tear and reduced fuel economy. If you have a severely underinflated tire, it can make the vehicle much more difficult to control. It can also take a toll on the car’s suspension, steering, and braking systems.”
This can be extremely dangerous if you need to do some fancy maneuvers worthy of a stunt double to avoid having an accident. The tire can also go flat, leaving you stranded on the side of the road. While it might be a pain, filling your tires is much simpler than risking a wreck.
The same thing applies to filling your tires with too much air. You’ll have less control of your vehicle when you need it most. There is also an increased risk of a blowout.
How do you figure out how much PSI is required for your car?
You need to fill your tires with air, and you don’t want to overdo it. But how do you know how much is too much?
There are three locations in your vehicle that you can quickly find this information. The driver’s door jamb, the glove box or trunk, and the owner’s manual should all have the recommended PSI.
If you can’t find this information in your vehicle, you can always call your local dealer or check online. It’s recommended that you check several sources if you go online, as some sites may have inaccurate information.