Saturday, January 26, 2013

Checking Tire Pressure

Making sure that you have the proper tire pressure is absolutely critical when it comes to safely and comfortably driving your car. Additionally, not only is it a safety issue, but an efficiency one; cars at the proper tire pressure will save money on gasoline, while cars with low pressure struggle with fuel efficiency and end up expending more gasoline to drive than they should.

There are several steps to checking the pressure of your tires, which begins with purchasing a tire air pressure gauge. You can get a gauge for a few dollars or, if you are so inclined, purchase a digital tire air gauge for about $15 at a local hardware or auto parts store. The gauge measures pressure in pounds per square inch, or PSI, and can easily fit in the glove box of your vehicle when it is not in use.

To begin, check out your tires for what the recommended tire pressure should be; most tires have a "recommended PSI" listed in small print somewhere on the rubber, that will tell you the proper or ideal figures for your tires so that you have a baseline from which to compare in the future. Recommendations will vary on the tires, but never inflate them more than 5 PSI over the recommendation; doing so can increase the possibility of a blowout and a potentially serious accident.

To physically read the PSI, then, you place the air pressure gauge onto the valve stem of the tire, which is a nozzle on the side of the tire that is about as wide as a pencil. Make sure you place the gauge as evenly as possibly on the valve stem to get a good reading. Doing so will allow a small amount of air to escape, but quickly and firmly press the gauge down on the valve stem, stopping the flow of air and allowing your gauge to get the proper reading.

The reading will come either through a metered stick on the traditional gauge, or through a digital readout on the digital model gauge. Either one, though, gets the job done when it comes to checking the pressure and figuring out whether or not you need to re-inflate your tires for you and your car's safety and efficiency.

Always check your tires when they are cold. Ideally, if the car has not been driven for three hours or more. Doing so will give you a much more reliable reading than on a hot car that has just been used for hours, as the warmer air during driving typically indicates a lower than normal pressure reading.

Tire pressure itself is critical to the health and well-being of your vehicle. Tire pressure management systems in cars today can help with the process, alerting you if tire pressure is low or unacceptable, but it is still critical that you override the TPMS and physically check the tires yourself.

While these systems are pretty reliable when it comes to monitoring and maintaining tire pressure, no read out is as reliable as your read out. Take matters into your own hands and be proactive about checking your own tire pressure.

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