Tire maintenance & safety

When & how to measure tire pressure

Last updated 10/17/2022 - Originally published 9/23/2020
Written by SimpleTire

Maximize driving safety, fuel economy, and tire life by measuring your tire pressure. Even if you've never measured tire pressure before, you can learn how to take accurate readings with ease.

Why You Should Measure Tire Pressure Regularly

Tire pressure might not cross your mind very often. However, this one factor can affect your entire vehicle's performance. Overinflated tires skid easily on ice, rain, and gravel. Underinflated tires can build up internal heat that causes them to rupture. That kind of tire failure can cause a serious accident.

Proper tire inflation also helps get the longest life out of your tires. Under-inflation causes the tire's sides to wear out quickly. If you put too much air in your tires, then the middle area where the tire contacts the road most will wear out quickly. This rapid and uneven wear also means you'll need to replace them sooner than if they wore down evenly.

To make sure you get the most out of your tires, SimpleTire.com recommends measuring your tire air pressure at least once a month. Tires naturally lose air through the porous rubber materials, so you should regularly check and adjust pressure.

Measure Tire Pressure with a Gauge

In order to measure inflation pressure, you need a tire pressure gauge. This is a small tool that connects to the valve stem of your tire. Manual tire pressure gauges only cost a few dollars. You can pick one up at any auto supply store or large retail chain. You can also purchase a digital gauge. Digital tire pressure gauges are highly accurate and easy to read. These gauges require batteries, so you should make sure that your gauge has enough power before you use it. Low battery power can lead to inaccurate readings.

How to Measure Tire Inflation Pressure

  1. Wait until your tires are cold, at least three hours since you've last driven.
  2. Unscrew the tire valve cap and place it in a secure location.
  3. Attach the tire pressure gauge to the valve stem and firmly press down.
  4. Read the pressure measurement. It will be in pounds per square inch or PSI.
  5. Remove the gauge and replace the valve stem cap.

Be sure to measure the pressure of all four tires. Your reading should match the PSI recommended by your vehicle's manufacturer. If the reading does not match the level recommended by your automaker, you should add or remove air accordingly.

How to Find the Right Tire Pressure

Automakers recommend tire pressures to help keep drivers safe on the road. Properly inflated tires will help you stay in control of your vehicle by giving you the best maneuverability and handling. Proper tire inflation pressure also makes it easier for you to come to a complete stop in an emergency. You can find the ideal tire pressure on the sticker in your driver's side door jamb. You can also check your vehicle owner's manual. Tire manufacturers print maximum inflation pressures on the sidewall of each tire. This is not your recommended inflation pressure.

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