Checking your tire air pressure on a regular basis is an essential part of your car maintenance. Although it is an incredibly important aspect of vehicle maintenance, the process itself of keeping tires afloat isn’t nearly as hard as newcomers might expect. Although a proper pressure gauge pen will do much of the precision work for you, it’s up to the operator of a vehicle to ensure that the tires are as pumped as a safe ride requires.
In this article, Part 1 explains how to check a PSI reading from a pressure valve, Part 2 tells you what the PSI should be, Part 3 advises checking tire pressure on a regular basis, and Part 4 explains why it’s important.
Part 1 of 4: Check the PSI reading from the pressure valve
A pressure gauge pen should be stored in every vehicle. This is an easy and convenient way of checking your tires’ pressure from the valve. Fortunately, they’re relatively inexpensive; they shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone looking to keep their car’s health at max for more than a few months.
Step 1: Buy a pressure gauge pen. A gauge pen may be purchased online or cheaply at most hardware stores.
Step 2: Make sure the car is cool. In order to account for the heat of road friction, tire pressure readings shouldn’t be taken within the last three hours of car use.
Step 3: Unscrew the valve cap and apply the gauge pen. Each tire has a tire valve that should protrude out of the hub. Unscrewing the valve cap and applying the gauge pen by pressing the sensor tip into the input should result in a very quick reading.
- Tip: If it’s your first time checking a tire’s pressure, you should give it a few tries in order to verify your reading is correct. Likewise, if your pressure reading seems obviously out of touch with the state of the tire, it’s probably a sign you need to give it another try.
Step 4: Add air as needed. Once you find out if the tires have fallen below the desired pressure, a car-powered air pump may be used to air it back up to a healthy state.
Part 2 of 2: What should the proper PSI level be?
PSI is shorthand for “pounds per square inch” and relates to the density of air currently compressed in your tires. You should be able to find the recommended PSI reading per tire on the driver’s side of the car door.
The recommended level should also be found on the vehicle owner’s manual.
- **Note: The recommended PSI level given by the auto manufacturer may not line up with reality if your vehicle has been outfitted with non-standard tires.
The recommended level may differ from vehicle to vehicle. Generally speaking however, a PSI reading of 30-35 will typically put you within the desired bounds. You can also test tires’ relative pressure by pressing your thumb into a tire and gauging yourself whether there’s a lack of firmness.
Part 3 of 4: Checking tire pressure should be a regular part of maintenance
Although there may be some debate over just how often someone should check the pressure of their tires, it’s a good habit to do it every month; it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to check all of them.
Extra checks are recommended before and after long trips, and also to account for sudden changes in extreme temperature. If your car has recently carried a significantly bigger load than it’s used to (in the case of towing a trailer) the added weight may have also eased some of the pressure out of them.
Part 4 of 4: Why is the tire pressure important?
If tires are under-inflated, they’ll wear out faster and limit the vehicle’s handling. Tires are more likely to blow out in the case of a lower pressure. On the positive side, tires with an optimal air level will increase your vehicle’s gas mileage and efficiency. Having the PSI reading higher than optimal should only occur if it’s overfilled. If that’s the case, you should let the air escape from the uncapped valve.
Waning tire pressure, if left unchecked, will have a significant impact on your vehicle’s performance. Making a point of maintaining your vehicle regularly will save you a lot of trouble on the road, and should decrease the strain of other vehicle components without a significant investment or yourself.