Tire pressure is important. Here's why and how you will check it

24/02/2019

Inadequate tire pressure can affect the safety, efficiency, fuel economy and the tire's life.

Tire pressure is the result of a measure of the air pressure in a tire. This is an important aspect of car care and maintenance. So how to check the tire pressure?  It is important that you have your car checked regularly and strictly follow periodical car maintenance schedule because under-inflated or over-inflated tires could affect the lifespan of a tire. The volume of air inside the tire determines the tire pressure. The tire pressure will decrease over time, so you need to inflate the tire regularly, to keep the tire pressure level accurate, according to the manufacturer's recommended number. 

There are two pressure units. The first and most common is the outdated PSI (1 Kg/cm2 = 14.2 Psi). A normal tire has a pressure of 30psi. Another unit used to measure tire pressure is the bar. "Bar" is the pressure of the atmosphere at the sea level. The normal tire pressure is 2.1bar, equivalent to 30psi.

Video: How to check tire condition

When the air is injected into the tire, the pressure will increase and, and over time, the air will leak out (or you will deliberately let the air out of the tire) the pressure will decrease. Experienced tire care and maintenance experts advise that the driver should adjust the tire pressure according to the number of passengers and the amount of luggage the vehicle carries. However, this is something that most car drivers ignore. Therefore, this will affect vehicle performance, costing hundreds of thousand of Nairas each year.

In some cases, for example, when driving on mud or snow, the tire pressure is lower than normal is actually an advantage. But in most cases, it is important to ensure that the tire is properly inflated with the manufacturer's instructions.

Tire inspection

Visual inspection is the quickest and easiest way to find out whether a tire is flat, worn out, or damaged. It is not difficult to recognize flat tires or the significantly flattened ones, even if the tire pressure is only slightly lower than the standard, it still affects the stability and stopping distance of the vehicle.

A-man-checking-the-tire-pressure

A visual check is the easiest, yet one of the most effective way to check the tire pressure

Visual inspection will help detect other damages such as bulging and torn areas inside the tire. Or find serious pests like screws and nails before it's too late. A hole in the tire usually costs around N10,000 to fix. However, if there is damage to the tire, it will have to be replaced.

Why is checking the tire pressure important?

Tires are the only parts that come in contact with the road surface. Running and stopping - two essential processes - depend entirely on the tire's grip on the road surface. As the tire pressure changes, the shape of the tire changes accordingly. Tires that are too tightly rounded, similar to bicycle tires, will not come in contact with the road surface enough. On the other hand, the flat tires will have slightly concave shapes, the center of the tire will not effectively contact the road surface and also wear the tire's hips. This is why the tires must be inflated with precise pressure. Unstable tire pressure can cause serious consequences.

Tire pressure and fuel economy

Fuel economy is arguably the most important aspect of a vehicle affected by tire pressure, so tires need to be checked more often. Very simple, if the tire pressure is too low, the car will be very difficult to move and the engine will burn more fuel. Therefore, the tire that is pumped to a moderate level will help optimize fuel efficiency. The impact on the environment is also important. A car that burns more fuel will emit more CO2 than a vehicle of the same type with a correctly inflated tire.

an-engine-light

Tire pressure and fuel economy are tightly linked

Tire pressure and vehicle control

A vehicle with over-inflated tires will not be able to be handled correctly. In fact, the difference between a standard pressure tire and a low-pressure tire is obvious, because low-pressure tires make the car very difficult to drive. In contrast, over-tensioning tires are dangerous because they reduce the grip of tires in wet conditions. Acceleration and braking are also affected by tire pressure. In addition, over-inflated tires will wear out faster and will get older faster.

Tire pressure and safety

The most important aspect but is underappreciated is the safety. A flat tire will cause the tires to wear faster. As a result, the lifespan of the tires will be shorter and contains potential hazards in wet weather conditions. Over-tensioning will cause abrasion in the middle of the tire, causing the tire's contact area to melt. This increases the stopping distance in wet weather. Finally, a poorly maintained tire will be at risk of explosion, which usually happens when the car is running at high speed and the likelihood of accidents is high.

How to check the tire pressure

Use a tire pressure gauge to check the tire pressure once a month. You can buy this meter or use it at a reputable garage. The exact pressure of the tire is usually printed on a piece of metal inside the driver's door frame, usually somewhere visible when the door is opened. The car's manual will display tire pressure charts. Both PSI and BAR measurement units are commonly used and most vehicles will have charts or diagrams explaining the different pressure levels that match the number of people or luggage in the vehicle.

To check the tire pressure properly, it is important to locate the valve on each wheel, usually along the rim and covered with a small plastic lid that should be opened when the pressure is applied. If the tire pressure does not reach 30psi, it means the tire has a problem.

someone-checking-the-tire-pressure-by-a-gauge

The test can be done easily by a handheld pressure gauge

Some models are equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system (TMPS) (since November 2014, EU regulations require this device on all new models). This device allows for checking the relative tire pressure from inside the vehicle. However, manual tire testing should also be done at least once a week or monthly in the event of a system failure.

How to pump tires

It is advisable to use a separate pump as many people use gas station pumps without maintenance. Most of the pumps are good but some will not produce accurate results. Attaching the pump to the same valve that was checked with a pressure gauge before. The pump runs out of the 12v power outlet available in the car, which is very easy and effective to inflate the tires. Otherwise, using a standard foot pump is also a way to pump tires.

someone-pumping-up-a-tire

The car pump is handheld and only need a 12V electric outlet to operate

Check the tires at the garage or tire shop

Most garages and tire shops will test the tire for free. Tires will be checked for damage, wear, pressure and tread depth at the same time. This is very important for the driver, and remember to periodically arrive at the tire shop to ensure safe driving on the tires. Or tires can also be checked by specialists who can identify defects and warning signs that you ignore.

A-mechanic-fixing-a-car

Though you can do many things with your tires at home, pay the mechanic a visit every month or two

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