Make sure you practice proper tire inflation techniques this winter or you could find yourself calling a tow truck, or worse, an ambulance.
Since the air pressure in tires supports 95 per cent of the weight of your car, it’s absolutely imperative that you inflate your tires to just the right pressure, especially in winter when tires lose their pressure faster in colder weather. Under-inflating or over-inflating your tires increases your fuel consumption and therefore your costs and increases the risk of damage and injury to you, your passengers and your vehicle.
Follow these tips from Transport Canada for maintaining proper winter tire pressure.
- Measure your tire pressure at least once a month.
- Measure the pressure when the tires are cold (after two hours or two kilometres of driving). Tires lose pressure when the air temperature gets colder — about one pound per square inch (seven kilopascals) for every 5 C drop in temperature. Tires may also lose a certain amount of pressure due to their permeability (about two PSI or 14 kPa per month).
- Inflate your tires to the recommended pressures printed on the label inside your car door or in your owner’s manual.
- Use a high quality pressure gauge such as those sold at automotive supply stores.
- Under-inflation increases rolling resistance, which reduces tread life and increases fuel consumption. It can also lead to sudden tire failure. Without enough air, the sides of a tire bend and flex too much. This builds up heat, which can cause serious damage.
- Operating a vehicle with just one tire underinflated by eight psi (56 kPA) can reduce the life of the tire by 15,000 km and can increase the vehicle’s fuel consumption by four per cent.
- Over-inflation can be a problem, too. An over-inflated tire rides on just the centre portion of the tread. The smaller contact area means reduced grip on the road, leading to a harsh ride, handling issues (such as steering and stopping problems) and increased wear on tires and suspension components.