A simple scientific fact is that cold weather leads to a drop in temperature. And what happens when the temperature drops well the air molecules move slowly and tend to keep together. When the molecules gain some heat, they move faster and this causes expansion. The concept of contraction and expansion play out in a number of situations and objects, including car tyres. This article looks into how you can manage PSI and tyre pressure for your car or truck during winter.
Cold Weather and Tyre Pressure
Cold weather can affect PSI and by extension, the amount of pressure on the tyres. When the temperature drops, the tyres will deflate automatically.
For more people in the northern hemisphere winter is prolonged spell of cold weather that can last for months on end. This lower temperature can lead to your car tyres pressure to drop significantly based on the temperature difference.
For example, tyres usually deflate or inflate by 1 or 2 PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch) each time the temperature changes by 10 degrees Fahrenheit. So if the temperature drops by 20 degrees, your car tyres could lose up to 4 PSI.
Low tyre pressure is dangerous for your car because it leads to poor fuel usage, increased breaking time, and decreased tyre life. So, what level of pressure is healthy for your tyres during the cold season?
Safe PSI in Winter
Many drivers ask whether they should inflate their tyres based on the maximum PSI provided by the manufacturer. However, experts believe that when it comes to tyre pressure, the maximum might not mean the right.
The Maximum Tyre Pressure
To find out the maximum tyre pressure your vehicle requires the check the service book, or door sill. However you can also check the sidewall of your tyres carefully. Just under the manufacturer’s big, bold letters, you can notice the indication Max Press 35 PSI. This number indicates the maximum amount of pressure that your tyre needs to carry the maximum load.
To get an more accurate reading of tyre pressure ideally, tyres should be inflated when they are cold, especially very early in the morning or after cooling off in a shade for a few hours. With that in mind, you’ll realize that the maximum pressure for most tyres ranges from 30 to 32 PSI.
If you inflate the tyres to the maximum figure provided by the manufacturer, say 35 PSI, a number of things are bound to happen. First, it will affect the handling characteristics. Maximum inflation is a big risk to the braking threshold. You could end up sliding out the back end when you make a quick corner. Besides, inflating your tyres to the maximum decreases the life of your tyres. Too much pressure inside the tyre can lead to a blowout and the center tends to wear out more quickly. So, what is the right tyre pressure?
The Optimum Pressure
If you check the owner’s manual carefully, you can find the optimum pressure level recommended by the manufacturer. Sometimes it is available on the sticker at the door jam, trunk lid, or fuel door. There is no fixed optimum pressure level, so most manufacturers provide a range between 30 and 35 PSI. That number indicates the minimum amount of pressure that your car needs to support its maximum load. If you inflate less than the optimum level that the manufacturer recommends, a number of issues can happen:
- Poor fuel utilization
- Premature wear
- Difficulty in handling
On the other hand, inflating your tyres to the optimum level leads to efficient car life and performance.
Checking the Tyre Pressure
Experts recommend a few rules of thumb when it comes to checking the pressure level in your car or truck’s tyres.
- After every 30 days
- Each time you fill up
- Every time the temperature changes by 10 degrees
Before you set out for a drive, it’s advisable to check whether your tyres are properly inflated. If you don’t have an air compressor to hand the you can find a reliable tyre care centre, you can find services tyre pressure check, tyre top-up, wheel balancing, and many others. Such services can ensure that you get a smooth ride.
How to check the PSI in Winter
A small drop in tyre pressure can go unnoticed, but can still affect your ride. Even if the temperatures remain constant throughout the winter, the tyres will still deflate. It’s therefore important to check the pressure level in your tyres each time you visit the pump.
Find the raised writings on the side of the wall and identify the recommended PSI. As mentioned earlier most car manufacturers recommend between 30 and 35 PSI for tyre. Some auto care centres also provide a pressure-checking instrument that you can use to find the recommended pressure level for your vehicle.
Always check the tyres before you hit the road, not after. This will give out the most accurate measurement. If your RTP is 32 PSI, then it means it is 32 PSI before you drive.
A tyre pressure gauge is an important tool that’s available for just a few pounds from most retailers. You can find a digital version because they are easy to use. However, they are more expensive. Pencil gauges are the cheapest€”the pressure reading comes with a small stick that pops out.
Remove the Valve Stem Cap the black or silver screw cap located in the rim. It should be visible from the outside of the vehicle.
Connect the pressure gauge to the valve stem. If you hear a hissing sound while inserting the gauge, it means the instrument is not properly aligned. Just adjust it until there is no more hissing sound. Check the reading. Do you need to inflate?
Return the valve stem cover and repeat the process for each tyre until you check all of them and note their pressure levels.
Usually, it’s recommended that you fill up your tyres with the right pressure level at least once in winter. If the pressure level is low, go to the nearest air pump and fill up each tyre until you get the right pressure level.
Overall, its important to check your tyres in winter just the way you would do in summer. Note that in winter, your tyres are more likely to deflate. Therefore, each time before you take a ride especially in the morning, check the pressure level in the tyres. Additionally, both under inflating and over inflating have negative consequences. Always find the recommended tyre pressure and stick with that.
Pounds Per Square Inch – Wikipedia