If you are not familiar with the setup of your tires, there are a number of issues you should be aware of. Incorrect pressure can cause you to lose grip, burn more fuel and even end up with a blowout due to excessive heat. So, here are all the keys to properly tuning the air in your tires.
The first thing is to find out where your tire pressure is indicated. There are several lists on the web that indicate what each brand and model in the market should have. However, it is not necessary to consult this type of page to know which is the right one for your car. There are only three places where these values are usually found to remove any doubt.
Where the pressure of your tires is indicated
The manufacturers make sure that it is printed on a sticker placed in an accessible place, because this data is very important for your safety and for the wheels to be always in good condition.
- The first place you should look is at the fuel tank cap. Many times the pressure is indicated on the inside of this little door.
- The second place you should look if you can’t find it on the lid is on the inside of the driver’s door. Usually on the B-pillar of your car or on the door itself (pictured below). The B-pillars are the ones that separate the front and rear doors. If not, it is also usual to find the indications on the driver’s door or any other part of the interior door frames, although it is more infrequent.
The third is the vehicle owner’s manual, but this is less frequent.
Very rarely you can find the tire pressure sticker on the engine bay. But this is a very rare custom of some brands in the United States.
How to put the perfect pressure on your tires
As you will see on the sticker where the indications come, the front and rear wheels usually do not have the same pressure. When the tires are cold, strictly observe the values recommended by the manufacturer.
Raising the pressure
However, there are many situations in which it is convenient to alter the data on the sticker to make it perfect:
- +0.3 bar with hot tires
- +0.1 for every 10º below 20
- +0.4 with a trailer on rear wheels and
- 3.2 bars if we leave the car stopped for a long time
A slight increase with long trips to very hot areas is also worth considering. This minimizes the deformation of the tire and the possibility of bursting due to excess heat. In the video above we tell you how to adjust the tire pressure in every circumstance, to gain in safety.
They usually give various values depending on the level of charge of the car. It is not the same two people in front, as going with all the seats occupied and the trunk full. If you are somewhere between the indicated values, inflate the tires with an intermediate pressure. For example, when in a car it says:
with three occupants > front wheels at 2.4 bar and rear wheels at 2.2
with five people and luggage > front wheels at 2.6 bar and rear wheels at 2.8
When traveling with four people and some luggage, you can adjust the wheels with 2.5 in front and 2.6 in back. This means you can spin thinner than most and you’ll ride more safely.
Lowering the pressure
There are circumstances in which you can lower your tire pressure, but you must do so responsibly and with full knowledge of the facts:
- With off-road cars that move over very difficult and/or soft terrain, to gain grip. Always at low speed, because otherwise they will get hotter than they should and may burst. This allows for a better adaptation of the tire to the ground and a larger grip area. When you get out of this difficult situation, you must raise the pressure back to the manufacturer’s values. This is why many off-road drivers carry a portable inflation pump or compressor.
- To get the car out of a snowy area. This is valid for both off-road and road cars, because in that situation they get more grip. However, you must also raise the pressure as soon as you get out of the quagmire, to continue driving safely.
There is another situation where the pressures are lowered a bit, but it’s just something that professionals in the world of racing do. This is a slightly lower pressure on the circuit, to warm them up before the race at a precise speed. This way they reach the indicated pressure when they are hot.
These professionals know how much to lower that pressure depending on the racing car they use. In addition to the appropriate speed to warm them up on the track. So they achieve that they do not burst before reaching the correct pressure. However, that is something we do not have to do in a normal car under any circumstances.
What happens if you circulate with low pressure
Driving with low tire pressure increases the risk of a blowout. This is because the tires are deformed more as they roll. A deformation that at high speed heats the rubber to levels that can be dangerous.
The blowout is caused by the excess heat in the tire material, not by the pressure increase produced by the heat. A difference that some people confuse.
In addition, if you go with very low pressure, the braking distance is extended because the tire footprint deforms under heavy braking, reducing the grip surface that is in contact with the ground.
Aquaplaning can also occur more easily, as the running surface is not pressed against the ground in the way it is designed and loses its ability to evacuate water.
Worse cornering stability
If the tires have less pressure, you will have less stability in the curve because they will deform more. This causes more body roll and therefore more mass displacement.
Wear on the sides
Low-pressure tires wear more on the shoulders or sides of the tread. So watching them wear out is a good way to see if you’ve been driving at too low a pressure, so you can correct it.
What happens if you circulate with high pressure
Over-inflated tires have less surface in contact with the ground, so they have less grip in all circumstances. Braking power, lateral grip and acceleration are all reduced.
Wear in the middle
In addition, when circulating with a lot of pressure they wear more in the center. That’s where the tires are pressing hardest against the pavement. Check how the tires are wearing out to see if the pressure is too high.
What happens if you drive with no air in the wheel
There are times when we are tempted to go to the workshop with a completely deflated wheel to get it fixed. You might think that if you go very slowly nothing will happen, but this is not the case. By pressing the edge of the rim against the flattened tire we will create a groove in the rubber that can disable it permanently.
If we go to a center specializing in tires with a wheel with this groove may refuse to repair the puncture. If this is the case, the only possibility will be to buy new ones, with the consequent increase in cost. Mainly because to do it well you have to put new ones on both wheels of the same axle.