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How and Why to Check Your Car's Tire Pressure (PSI)

Dec 4, 2017

how to check your car's tire pressure


Before we go into how to check your car’s tire pressure, lets first go into why it’s important. 


Why it’s important to check your tire’s air pressure


First of all, its one of the easiest yet overlooked safety checks on your car.  Most people tend not to pay attention to their tires until they are flat.  Unfortunately, underinflated tires can cause a lot of damage. 


Reasons why you need to check your air pressure often: 


·      Improperly inflated tires wear out faster than ones that are properly inflated.

·      Deflated tires lead to reduced control and traction, especially in bad weather, increased tire blowouts and potential accidents. 

·      They also reduce your car’s gas efficiency by 3% or more!    

·      You will detect patchable slow leaks sooner and prevent tire blowouts and will be able to patch the tires for longer use.


What is PSI


When you check your tires you are checking their PSI.  PSI stands for pounds per square inch.  Your car’s PSI is determined by it’s weight, size, towing capacity and recommended tire size.  You should always use the manufacturer’s recommendation for your car. 


Where can I find my PSI information?


It’s so easy to find you literally step over it every time you get into your car.  Literally.  It’s right on the inside of your driver’s side door frame toward the bottom rear.  See photo. 


finding your car's PSI tire information


How often should you check your tire’s air pressure?


It is recommended that it is done monthly.   While you may not need to do it that often, it is especially important to at least do it every 3 months (as the seasons and weather/temperature changes) and before and after you tow something heavy.  Temperature changes in the environment can cause your tires to lose a lot of air and deflate. 


How to check your tire’s air pressure?


Step 1. First you’ve got to get a tire gauge. 


Types of gauges available:  Stick, Dial, Digital & Phone


Stick Gauges – you’ve probably seen one of these weird tools in your father’s drunk drawer as a child and had no clue why this ugly pen didn’t either light up or write.  Stick gauges are still used due to their easy portability, general accuracy and cheap price.  One of these will run you about $5 at your local auto store.  Sometimes they can be finicky, but for the most part, they get the job done.  You attach it to your tire and the little stick pops out with a PSI measurement. 


stick tire gauge


Dial Gauges – They’re sort of expensive considering that there is now more accurate technology out there, running about $22-50 each.  Works the same as the stick gauges except you get a little dial with a needle that gives you a more accurate reading. 


dial tire pressure gauge


Digital Gauges – Instead of a stick or dial, digital gauges are exactly as you’d expect.  They are little tools that give you a very accurate, digital reading of your car’s tire pressure.  They run about $12-15.  Downside this gauge is that it requires batteries and may run out of juice when you actually need it. 


digital tire pressure gauge


There are gauges and technology that even connects to your phone but it may not be 100 accurate at this point.  If you do not have access to tire gauge, they are usually available at gas stations where they have air pumps for public use. 


Step 2: Remove the tire air valves and don’t lose them.  These little guys love to roll away. 


Step 3. Place the tire pressure gauge on the valve stem quickly and press down hard to get a reading.  Be careful you don’t keep this on too long or fuss with it.  You’ll end up releasing air from your own tire. 


Step 4.  Take several readings to make sure you’ve got it right.  Sometimes they can be inaccurate depending on how you’ve placed the pressure gauge.


Step 5: Add air to your tires if needed based on your car’s chart and replace the valve caps tightly. 



Additional Tire Pressure Checking Tips:


Check your tire pressure when the car has been sitting for awhile.  The road causes the air in the tires to heat up and give you a different reading.   The pressure in the tires goes up as the tires warm up.  It will give you a false reading.


Don’t forget to give your spare tire some PSI checking love.  He’s lonely.  The last thing you want is a FLAT spare.  Its about as useful as a square wheel. 


Keep in mind that the tire pressure monitor inside your vehicle, as impressive as it may be, is not always accurate. 

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