If you just started driving, you may be more worried other drivers than about your own vehicle. However, since you are now officially a driver, you also need to know a little bit about how to keep your vehicle well maintained and safe on the road. An easy place to start is by learning how to properly inflate your tires.
When It Comes To Your Tires, Pressure Is Key
When dealing with your tires, you are going to hear the term "tire pressure" a lot. Tire pressure refers to the amount of air that is inside of your tires.
It is measured in pounds per square inch or psi. This is how much pressure, or force, is exerted per each inch of tire surface.
You Can Find Information About Your Vehicle's Tire Pressure Needs In Lots Of Places
Each vehicle has unique tire pressure needs. The weight and size of your vehicle determines how much pressure you should have in each tire.
In the vast majority of vehicles, information about the correct tire pressure for your vehicle can be found in one of four places:
- Owner's manual
- Fuel door
- Inside the driver's side door post
- Inside the glove box
Most vehicles try to place this information in the owner's manual, as well as somewhere on the vehicle itself. That way if the owner's manual ever gets misplaced, you can still find the information somewhere.
Remember, The Pressure Listed Is "Cold Pressure"
It is important to note that the tire pressure number listed in these locations is the "cold inflation pressure number." That does not mean that it needs to be cold outside for this information to be correct.
Rather, this reading is based on measuring your tire pressure when your tires have not been in use for a few hours. When you drive around your tires get hot and the air inside of them expands and the pressure readings can vary greatly-- which is why you need to measure your tire pressure when your tires are cold.
It Doesn't Take Long To Measure Your Tire Pressure
You can pick up a tire pressure gauge at your local auto parts store. Tire pressure gauges kind of look like a metal pen with a ruler that extends out the top of them.
You'll want to check the pressure in all of your tires. Tire pressure can vary from tire to tire depending on how you filled your tires with air.
You'll want to unscrew the air cap from your tires. Then, put the bottom of the gauge against the opening. The ruler on the top will pop-up from the air pressure that is being released from your tires. Read the bottom number on your gauge. If the number is lower than the recommend psi for your tires, you'll need to add some air. If the number is higher, you will need to let some air out. Put the cap back.
In order to add air, you can go to a gas station and use the air machine that is on the side. It usually costs about a quarter. You'll need to unscrew the cap from your tires, then attach the hose to the opening, and pull back the leaver and add in air. Most machines will measure your tire pressure automatically. However, if the air hose does not have a built in tire pressure gauge, you'll need to stop and measure the tire pressure.
Getting It Right Matters
If your tires do not have enough air in them, your tires may blow out while you are driving. On the other hand, if your tires have too much air in them, your tires will not wear evenly and you may also experience issues with handling your vehicle smoothly.
Use the tips above to check your tire pressure every couple of months. In order to keep your tires in good shape and your vehicle driving straight, it's important to have the right tire pressure. For more information, contact a company like Schwabe's Tire Center.