Before we go over how to measure tire pressure correctly, let me tell you why you should measure tire pressure regularly.
We have commented on several occasions (and those that remain) that tires are the only point of contact of the car with the asphalt. Therefore, although they are unjustly forgotten, they are a key element in the safety of a vehicle and an all-too-frequent trigger for traffic accidents.
Driving with incorrect tire pressure, either underinflated or overinflated, can put your safety at risk, but it is also a risk to your wallet.
- If you have MORE tire pressure than recommended, your footprint will be less. The consequence is reduced grip and increased wear.
- if you use LESS tire pressure than recommended, the contact patch will be larger, which will increase wear and tear, leading to earlier tire changes and increased fuel consumption.
- A tire with little air reduces the control capacity over the vehicle.
How to Check Tire Pressure without a Gauge
Usually using a gauge when inflating a tire is the best option, however, you may find yourself in a situation where you do not have a gauge. In these cases, it is necessary to check the tire pressure without a gauge. Now we will show you how.
1. Weight on the Wheels
Exert maximum pressure on the tires. If the tires deform by at least 10%, this indicates low pressure. Therefore, you should inflate the tire more until its deformation is close to 0%.
2. Eyeball Method
When your tires are overinflated (too high pressure), it will visually appear that your tire is bulging, decreasing its contact surface with the road.
Conversely, underinflated tires (too low pressure) will visually appear to protrude one or two millimeters on each side of the tire, causing greater stress on the sides of the tread, which causes an abnormal rise in tire temperature.
The Effects of Incorrect Tire Pressure
At lower pressures than recommended, the tire heats up earlier, so not only will it wear faster – and unevenly on the outer areas of the tread – but there could also be a danger of a skid, as well as an increased risk of aquaplaning. Low pressures also cause the tire to deform more than it should, which can lead to a loss of grip and, therefore, of vehicle control. Not to mention increased fuel consumption.
Be careful, because the consequences of driving with insufficient tire pressure can be felt even after the tire pressure has been corrected, for example if there is internal damage to the structure due to overheating, or if the tread has worn unevenly.
But there are also negative effects if the tire pressure is too high. The tire will wear more on the central part of the tread, and the irregularities of the asphalt will take their toll on the suspension. Grip also suffers.
In short, correct tire pressure is not only a guarantee of safety, it also has a positive effect on your wallet: less wear and fuel savings. To give you an idea, it is estimated that a tire with a pressure 20 percent below the recommended pressure can shorten its useful life by no less than 20 percent, and that’s a lot of kilometers.
How Do I Know What Pressures To Use In My Tires?
It is very simple. In all cars the recommended use pressure is indicated depending on the tire and the load. You have this information in the owner’s manual of the vehicle, and it also usually comes on a sticker that is usually located either on the fuel tank cap or on the pillar when you open the driver’s door.
If you do not have the manual of your car and you cannot find this information in the vehicle (formerly it was on panels that could be consulted in the gas stations themselves) you can always resort to the Internet. There are options such as the Michelin tire search engine, where you can search by type of tire and dimensions, or by brand and model, where in addition to the information on the recommended tire you can check the recommended pressure for your car and your wheels. Write it down, and always carry it in your car. And don’t forget to adapt the pressure to the conditions of use: when the car is loaded, it is usually necessary to increase it between 1 and 3 bar.
When To Check Tire Pressure
Experts recommend checking tire pressure at least once a month and always before starting a trip.
Remember also that the correct pressure is different for each vehicle and for each tire size. The manufacturers indicate it in the maintenance manual and also by means of a sticker generally located on the fuel tank cap or on the sheet metal part that is visible when opening the driver’s door.
There are two inflation pressures, the normal one and another one for when we are going to drive with the car at full load.