Maintaining correct Tyre air pressure for your car
Often people enjoy driving a car but sometimes do not bother to take care of their vehicle in terms of maintaining it to make it run efficiently on the road. Tyre pressure is one such area often which gets neglected and people do not get it checked periodically resulting in reduced drive efficiency. This article aims to give some basic tips regarding maintaining your car tyre pressure.
Introduction Car tyre pressure plays a vital role during a drive to ensure smoothness and fuel efficiency of the ride. Keeping the car tyre pressure at inappropriate levels can have an adverse impact. It is a good practice to get the tyre pressure checked at nearby petrol pumps every 15-20 days or at least once in a month to make sure that it is proper. Both very low and very high tyre pressure is not good for the car and it should be set as mentioned in the car manufacturers manual.
Effects of low tyre air pressure Below are some undesirable effects of maintaining lower than normal tyre air pressure.
Reduced fuel efficiency- If car tyre pressure falls below the rated pressure then fuel efficiency of the vehicle gets reduced. This will lead to reduced mileage for your car and higher fuel cost in filling the tank. This is because when the air pressure inside tyre is low tyre tends to get flat at its point of contact with the ground while moving. This increases surface area in contact with the ground resulting in increased friction between the tyre and the road due to which more effort is required by the engine to move the car.
Increased tyre wear- Reduced tyre pressure also increases chances of tyre wear especially when the car is fully loaded with the passengers. This is because tyre becomes flat at the point of contact with the ground and hence drag on the tyre becomes more when the vehicle is driven at higher speed. It is observed that in cases of low tyre pressure tyres are more worn out at its edges than the centre as edges get more drag on the road as tyre becomes flat at point of contact with the road.
Chances of puncture- Low tyre pressure also increases the chances of tyre getting punctured as the tyre surface in contact with the ground increases and there are more chances of running over sharp objects.
Car Control- Low tyre air pressure sometimes poses problems in controlling the vehicle as the steering control becomes difficult. Also, difficulties are observed during braking the car on wet surface if tyres pressure is low.
Tyre heating and blow out- Since in case of the low tyre pressure more surface area of the tyre is in contact with the ground there is more friction between the tyre and the road resulting in tyres getting heated. So this poses a danger of tyres getting overheated and blown out especially when vehicle is driven at high speeds and can cause serious accidents.
Effects of high tyre air pressure Just as the underinflated tyre can be harmful same is true with the overinflated tyre. So tyre pressure should not be kept high than the normal thinking that very high tyre pressure is good for the car. Below are some adverse effects of maintaining too high tyre pressure.
Reduced Braking efficiency - If tyre pressure is too high then it leads to increased braking distance which means that in order to stop or slow down the car it would require a larger distance to stop than normal. So it becomes difficult to apply the brake and stop the car within a short distance. This can be very risky on the road if you urgently need to apply the brake and stop the car.
Reduced ride quality - Higher than normal tyre pressure makes tyre somewhat hard and results in the more bumpy ride over the road. So the ride smoothness is greatly reduced. In the event of bad roads and potholes, passengers will have to bear a lot of bumps and shaking while the car is moving.
Tyre wear from the centre -Higher tyre pressure can result in central part of tyres to wear more prematurely compared to the edges. This is because when the tyre is overinflated central part of the tyre is in contact with the road more than the edges and hence it results in the centre of the tyre wearing out fast.
Danger of tyre bursting - Tyre air pressure increases with temperature. Hence if the tyre is overinflated past its recommended levels than in case of high speed driving in the highways tyres will get heated up more which will result in air pressure inside the tyre to increase further. So due to this sometimes there is a possibility that air pressure inside tyre crosses the maximum permissible limit giving rise to the possibility of tyre burst while driving on highways.
Dos and donts of maintaining Tyre air pressure Depending on car manufacturer, type, size and model manufacturer recommended tyre pressure varies from 28 PSI to 36 PSI approximately. So attempt should be made to stick to these levels. Below are some points to be kept in mind while getting your tyres filled.
Fill tyres when cold - For a particular tyre pressure if the tyre temperature increases then air pressure inside also increases and when tyres get cold air pressure inside it drops. Keeping 1 or 2 PSI above the normal pressure should be fine as recommended tyre pressure from the manufacturer is mentioned for cold tyres. This is because practically people do not have tyre inflating pumps at their homes and normally go to nearby petrol pumps to get it checked. Hence it is normal that by the time car reached petrol pump tyres will be somewhat hot compared to when they were in their home parking lot. So the temperature of the tyre is an important point to be kept in mind before setting the tyre pressure. If the tyre is perfectly cold then filling to normal pressure would suffice but if the vehicle has been driven for some distance and tyres are hot then filling about 2 PSI extra should not do any harm. So it is best practice to get the tyre air pressure checked when they are cold and not driven more than 1 or 2 km at a stretch.
Accordingly, it is more advisable to fill your tyres when the weather is comparatively cold. If the tyre is filled when temperatures are high it will show higher pressure. When your car returns to your home parking lot and cools down tyre cold pressure will fall below the normal value. For example, it is more advisable to fill your tyres in morning or night rather than afternoon due to the temperature effect.
Check the accuracy of air filling pump - This is also very important as in some petrol pumps air filling pumps are not properly maintained and calibrated and give a false reading of the tyre pressure. This leads to your tyres being filled to either lower or higher than the actual pressure which may prove harmful to your vehicle. So it is better to analyse the petrol pumps in your area and select the one where air filling pump is accurate and stick to it always as far as possible to get your tyre pressure checked. It is not a good practice to get your tyre pressure checked at different petrol pumps every time as each of them will have a slight variation in their calibration and reading.
Fill tyres in unloaded condition - When checking the car tyre pressure it is best if the car is empty with no passengers sitting inside. If air is filled with passengers sitting inside then tyre pressure shows a false reading. It will show little more than what it is actually.
Precaution on highway driving - If you are planning a long distance trips on national highways where car is expected to be driven at high speed then it is better to keep tyre pressure about 2 PSI above the normal as high speed driving on the highways will put stress on the tyre and also heat it if the tyre is underinflated. Also during highway driving care should be taken not to get tyre pressure checked in between the journey when tyres are hot and have run a long distance. This will give a false high reading as tyres are hot and the pump will reduce and adjust the pressure to normal. This will actually reduce the tyre pressure below normal when they cool.
Do not go by word of mouth- Sometimes drivers do not care to see tyre pressure recommended in their car manufacturers handbook and go on to fill the tyres as recommended by the petrol station air pump operator or their friends. This is a very wrong approach as every car based on its size, model etc has different tyre pressure recommendation and one should strictly go by what is mentioned in the car user manual.
Beware of the puncture shops- Sometimes when you get your tyre puncture repaired from puncher shop you need to be careful as these people always tend to overinflate your tyre to a great extent which could prove dangerous. After repairing the tyre puncture it would be best practice to get your tyre pressure checked from reliable petrol station air pump and get it rectified.
Tyre pressure versus mileage- There is a relation between tyre pressure and mileage on the road. If tyre pressure is maintained higher than normal then gas mileage also increases and you get more Kms per litre of petrol. Many people do this before long trips on highways to get good mileage. But I would say it may not be the correct thing to do as there will be tradeoffs and other risks associated with it as highlighted earlier. Making it 2 or 3 PSI higher should be fine but anything beyond that might not be advisable. On the other hand, low tyre pressure than normal will give a smoother ride but will reduce the mileage and put more stress on tyres during high-speed highway driving.
Conclusion Though maintaining tyre air pressure may not seem an important part in vehicle maintenance it is very crucial in prolonging the life of your car tyres and also ensuring good ride quality, control, lower maintenance costs and proper gas mileage. Hence it can save you quite a bit of money if you adhere to the guidelines regarding maintaining your car tyre pressure.