For most drivers out there on there normal everyday commute, school run or shopping trip the thought of low tyre pressure never crosses there minds until they get stranded due to an extremely low pressure tyre or flat.
The hope from most car drivers is that that the vehicle they are driving has its tyre pressures steady and stable. However it may be shocking to some motorists but this is usually not the case. It is only natural for car tyres to deflate given enough time and distance.
The purpose of air in the tyre is to compensate for the vehicle’s capability to handle loads and even the weight of the vehicle itself. It is, therefore, essential and safety critical to keep your tire pressure well maintained. Equally important is the knowledge of tyres, tyre pressure and everything in between.
4 Common causes of low tyre pressure?
When we looked into why the pressure could drop in tyres, we knew the obvious ones including a faulty valve but could there be more. Well we found a total of four reasons why tyres may deflate.
1 – Osmosis
If you’ve never heard of osmosis then neither had I. Osmosis is among the factors that lead to low tire pressure and even deflating of a car’s tyre. Air moving across the thread of the tire can account to a substantial loss of tyre pressure every month.
An important variable is that the amount of pressure loss is dependent and relative to the type of tire and its quality. The constitution and construction methods used when producing a tyre will affect the rate of
osmosis of air through the rubber tread and walls.
2 – Seeping punctures
It is common for the treads of a tyre to suffer insignificant punctures. Maybe your car has rolled over a sharp object that you could not avoid such as small nails or screws. These type of common items have been credited with causing this type of slow punctures. Over a period of driving and the movement of the vehicle, these small punctures will slowly ensure that air leaks from within the tire.
3 – Faulty valves
Unfortunately, some valve systems in tyres are faulty. This might be caused by overuse or poor maintenance. Sometimes when a air compressor or pressure gauge is connected or disconnected from a valve the movement can lead to the valve suffering some damage.
In other instances; the manufacturer of the tyre might have used valves that were manufactured with a fault being present.
As equally destructive to valves is over tightening the core of the valve a little too much. Whenever your vehicle tyres have faulty valves, air escapes from inside the tire through the valves, thereby leading to low tire pressure and deflation.
4 – Careless braking
Yes. Careless braking can lead to low tyre pressure. Sharp breaking can be down to poor driving or could be down to safely stopping in the event of avoiding an accident.
It can also happen when the vehicle runs over large highway objects such as traditional speed bumps while driving at relatively high speed.
By braking carelessly a driver is forced to sharply apply the brakes and in the process unknowingly fueling tire pressure loss.
How do I know if my tyres have low pressure?
It is quite easy to tell when a tyre’s pressure is significantly low. Look out for the following indicators of low tire pressure.
1 – Flustering sound
If you have hit the tarmac, are winding down the road, and can hear your tyres making some flapping noise, then that is one of the signals that your tyre pressure could probably be low. Should this be the case, you are
advised to pull over as soon as possible and inspect your tyres. You might also want to get the spare tyre out just in case you have to change the tyre with low pressure.
2 – Vehicle handling
Another significant indicator of low tyre pressure is the vehicle’s movement. Under inflated tyres will make maneuverability an issue for your car. Turning at corners might become more difficult a bit like turning a passenger plane around a tight roundabout. You may also find there is a delay in completing the turn. This should be signal to a you that one or more of your tyres have low pressure and need to be inspected.
3 – Braking effect
Should you note that you take longer to stop even after braking firmly, well, the problem might with the air in your tires.
This is because braking depends on your tyres threads creating friction on the tarmac of the road. An under inflated tyre, however, means that the less of the tread surface of the tyre is in contact with the road surface so there far less friction as compared to a correctly pressurized tyre. This explains the difficulty in braking and increase stopping distance, which is a real safety concern. Take note of this, check and change your tyre(s) if necessary.
4 – Increased fuel Consumption
Most cars come equipped with an estimated fuel economy indicator, usually on the dash. If your like me you will always take a glance of this reading after a journey just to keep a on eye on the fuel consumption of the car. If you notice that the car’s fuel economy is getting worse this trend could indicate low tyre pressure.
So why would an increase of full consumption indicate under inflated tyres. Well the estimated fuel economy for your car at manufacturing is calculated given fully pressurized tyres. Therefore, a lower the fuel economy reading indicates that the engine is being overworked, which is caused by tyres with low pressure.
Can low tyre pressure dangerous?
Yes, low tyre pressure is dangerous. Even though tyres with low pressure or even under-inflated tires can move your vehicle, it is important to all motorists to realize that it is dangerous.
Low tyre pressure affects the handling of your car. Both making safe turns, and braking in adequate time are notably affected by low pressure tyres.
It goes without saying what the potential consequences can be from poorer maneuverability of your vehicle due to low tire pressure. Generally you can expect a higher chance of getting into some sort of accident.
Secondly, driving a vehicle whose tyres are underinflated, or even with low pressure can result in tyre failure leading to puncture repair not working. A complete failure can lead to an increase in costs. Since an under inflated or even flat tyre can be repaired as long as it has not totally failed by being driven on for sustained periods of time.
Thirdly and important to note is that tyre blowouts can, and do result from low tire pressure. Tyre blowouts happen because a tyre with low pressure tends to extend sideways and therefore to increase friction. This
friction leads to heat generation that causes the tyre to expand and eventually burst. Tyre blowouts are dangerous and lead to control loss that can cause accidents.
Finally, low tire pressure leads to your vehicle consuming more fuel than expected, as explained earlier on. This can prove costly to your wallet.
What should I do if my tyre pressure is low?
As has been established in this article, driving with tyres that have low pressure is dangerous and could be the precursor to an accident. So what should you do if your tire pressure is low?
Fortunately, most modern vehicles are equipped with tyre pressure monitoring systems. These systems will quickly alert a driver whenever one or more of your tyres have the incorrect pressure. If your don’t drive one of these newer cars then you will be reliant on visual inspection, listening out for sounds or use a suitable pressure gauge.
Should you discover that your tyre pressure is low, it is recommended that you pullover as soon as possible. You should then check your tire pressure (as mentioned you could use a handheld pressure gauge).
If your need to inflate the tyre you have a number of options. With newer cars you may have access to a puncture repair kit that includes a air compressor. Just follow the instructions provide with the kit.
You may be someone who loves to be prepared for emergencies so you may have packed a foot pump or portable inflator. With the foot pump you will need to exert some physical force to get the tyre back to a safe driving pressure. With a portable electric inflator you will need to follow the instructions you get with the unit to safely re-inflate the tyre to the correct pressure level.
Tyre Pressures – AA
Osmosis – Wikipedia