An underinflated tyre could cost more than a few dollars
When a customer comes into our tyre shop in Brisbane, I can tell almost immediately if they haven’t checked their tyre pressures for a long while – or if they only check them now and again. I’m not a mind reader. I don’t have a second sight. And I’m not a magician. But I do know my tyres.
In this article, you’ll learn how often you should check your tyres, and why.
How do I know you neglect tyre pressure checks?
You can tell a lot from tyres. I can see if you drive fast into corners and if you brake harder than you should. One of the easiest things to tell is if you leave it too long between tyre pressure checks. The sign is worn shoulders on the inside and outside: it means your tyres have deflated, and this is usually because you haven’t checked the tyre pressure in a while, or you leave it too long between doing so.
Why do tyres deflate?
Most drivers think that if they have the valve cap screwed tight, their tyre pressure will remain the same. I expect you know that heat affects tyre pressure – in hot weather your tyre pressure increases. But did you know that all tyres deflate over time?
It’s a slow process, but your tyre is constantly losing air. Usually at the rate of around 3PSI every month. It happens because all tyre rubber has small holes in it. Miniscule holes, through which air molecules can (and do) escape. If you inflate your tyres to a high pressure, the air will escape faster because the molecules are forced out. It’s a natural process, and cannot be avoided. The only treatment is to regularly check your tyre pressures, and make sure you re-inflate to the right pressure.
How do incorrectly inflated tyres affect you?
Driving on incorrectly inflated tyres will affect your pocket, and can affect your safety; and that of your passengers and other road users.
Incorrectly inflated tyres will cause increased and uneven wear. It will affect handling, and increase braking distances. You’ll find it harder to negotiate bends and corners, and that distance between you and the vehicle ahead might not be enough anymore.
Underinflated tyres could fail prematurely. The tyre must work harder, and the rubber flexes more – and breaks down faster. Abnormal conditions become problematic. Debris and gravel become lodged in the rubber more easily, and your control is impeded.
Increased wear also increases fuel consumption. That’s a direct hit on your pocket. And the longer you run your tyres under or overinflated, the greater the wear and tear on them – and the less time they’ll last. Poorly inflated tyres could need changing tens of thousands of kilometres earlier than correctly inflated tyres. You could be buying three sets over a period that two sets should cover. That’s hundreds of dollars in unnecessary costs.
How often should you check your tyre pressures?
At the very least, you should check your tyre pressures once a month. Preferably, check them every two weeks. Re-inflate to the recommended pressure.
Other times you should check your tyre pressures are:
- Before a long trip, or before and after driving in the outback
- When you rotate your tyres (make sure you adjust pressures according to front and rear tyre requirements)
Don’t forget to check your spare tyre every time you check your other tyres. The last thing you need to happen is to find your spare tyre is unusable miles from home and assistance.
How do you know what pressure to inflate to?
First, you should usually ignore all the writing on the tyre sidewall when inflating your tyres. The correct tyre pressure to inflate to is dependent upon your vehicle and its load. You’ll find the tyre pressure recommendations either on the tyre placard on the door jamb or in your vehicle’s driver’s manual.
The exception to this rule (there’s always an exception, isn’t there?) is if you replace the original tyres with different tyres. In this case, refer to the tyre manufacturer’s recommendations – and if you’re in any doubt, call in at our tyre shop in Brisbane and ask me. See if I can tell how long it’s been since you last checked your tyre pressures while you’re here. Just for fun, of course!
What if your tyre keeps losing pressure fast?
If you find that your tyre pressure is reducing rapidly, or has lost more than 4PSI to 5PSI in a month, you could have a problem with another part of the tyre. Most commonly this will be the valve stem. Don’t leave this tyre condition to chance. It’s dangerous, and you could find your tyre suddenly deflates while you’re driving – often on the motorway. If this is the case, contact Brisbane Tyres today and get your tyre checked before it’s too late.
Keeping your family and fleet safely on the road,