A guide to help you understand tyre pressure and keep your tyres inflated to the correct level.
Car tyre pressure refers to the amount of air that has been pumped into the inner linings of your tyres. It is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI) or BAR, which is a unit of atmospheric pressure.
Maintaining the correct tyre pressure is essential. As well as helping to improve safety when youíre behind the wheel, it can optimise fuel efficiency and extend the lifespan of your tyres. As a driver, it is your responsibility to check your tyre pressure on a regular basis and correct it when necessary. You should aim to do this every few weeks, or before long journeys.
If too much air escapes from your tyres and they are under-inflated, you can experience a range of problems. Too little pressure can result in tyres having uneven contact with the road, increasing wear around the edges. It can also lead to greater flexing, causing damage to the tyre wall structure. In addition, it increases rolling resistance, reducing your fuel efficiency and causing greater CO2 emissions.
Too much air in your tyres can also have harmful effects. For example, because less of the tyre is in contact with the road surface, the middle section tends to wear down more quickly. This reduced contact patch can also result in a loss of traction and longer braking distances. There is an increased risk of high-speed blowouts too as there is very little Ďgiveí in the shape of the tyre, causing higher stress loads.
The recommended tyre pressure is different for every vehicle, so youíll need to check what the correct values are for your car. In many vehicles, there is a sticker detailing the recommended pressure on the inside door on the driverís side. This information is also sometimes displayed inside the fuel filler flap. If you canít find the information in these locations, donít worry; all cars have the correct tyre pressures clearly set out in their manuals.
Bear in mind that your vehicle manufacturer may suggest different pressures for the rear and front tyres. They may also provide a different recommended pressure for when your car is fully loaded.
Checking the pressure in your tyres is simple as long as you know how. Your first step is to buy a tyre pressure gauge, which you will be able to find in many shops and garages. To use this piece of equipment, simply place it over the valve stem on your tyre (which is where the air goes in) and press down on it to prevent air from escaping. This will give you a pressure reading.
It is important that you take this reading when your tyres are Ďcoldí, in other words when your car has been stationary for a couple of hours or more. If you check tyre pressures when you have been driving and your tyres are warm, you are likely to get an inaccurate reading. This is because as the rubber heats up, the pressure inside tyres naturally increases.
Because of the importance of maintaining correct tyre pressure, new vehicles sold in the EU must now have Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) fitted. These systems feature special sensor valves, which continually monitor the pressure in each tyre. If the pressure drops, a warning light comes on to alert the driver. It is then up to drivers to make sure the pressure is adjusted. Once this has been done, the warning light disappears.
If your car has a TPMS, itís important to ensure it is maintained by a qualified technician. A faulty system will mean your car fails its MOT.
Itís normal for a little air to escape from tyres. Generally, air is lost at a rate of up to two PSI a month, and this can increase during warm weather. However, if you notice that your tyre pressure is dropping more quickly than this, you might have a puncture.
Driving with a damaged tyre can be dangerous, so itís essential that you get this checked out by a technician as soon as possible.
If your tyres are showing signs of damage or the tread has worn down, TyrePlus can help. We stock an impressive selection of tyres from top brands at affordable prices. Simply choose the tyres you want, select a fitting location and book an appointment. If youíd prefer, our fitters can come out to you. For more information about our services, donít hesitate to get in touch.