Tire maintenance & safety

Tire inflation pressure overview & importance

Last updated 12/27/2022 - Originally published 9/24/2020
Written by SimpleTire

For both tubeless and tube-type tires, there’s one thing that’s vital for continuous running — inflation pressure. Other than ensuring proper tread wear, tires with recommended air pressure offer benefits like extended tire life, optimum driving safety, and improved fuel efficiency.

We often pay attention to the visible issues on a tire to ensure that it is well-maintained but overlook the inflation pressure, which can be the most crucial part of tire maintenance. But technically, what is inflation pressure in tires? What is its recommended level? How do you check tire inflation pressure? Let’s understand all such aspects pertaining to tire inflation in detail.

Tire inflation pressure can be technically explained as the amount of air inside a tire recommended by a vehicle manufacturer. This inflation pressure or air pressure is measured by PSI or pounds per square inch, using a tire pressure gauge.

How to check inflation pressure in your tires?

Just by looking at the tires, it is difficult to gauge their exact inflation pressure. These days, there are various kinds of tire pressure gauges available that allow you to check the tire pressure and ensure that the recommended tire inflation pressure is maintained. Alternatively, you can reach out to the dealership and have the service professionals check it. But, the most important point to consider is the ‘routine’. It is advisable to get in the habit of inspecting your tires, including the spare one, on a regular basis and can easily be done every other time you go out to fill your gas tank. Also, it has to be noted that in some vehicles the tire pressures on the front and rear axles might have to be different.

Many vehicles are offered with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) that gives the drivers the convenience of keeping a check on the inflation pressure levels in the tires. If your vehicle has this feature, utilize it to alert yourself whenever the tire inflation pressure goes below the recommended level. But keep the TPMS as a secondary source as a malfunction in the TPMS system could lead to tire damage and related adverse results.

Recommended tire inflation pressure

To do a routine tire pressure check, you must have relevant information about the recommended tire inflation pressure level so that you keep it right whenever needed. Most vehicles that are sold in the United States have an easy-to-read manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure in the driver’s side door jamb or door frame. You can also find the recommended tire pressure mentioned in the owner’s manual of your vehicle.

Most vehicle owners mistakenly think that the recommended tire inflation pressure is also located on the tire’s sidewall. The PSI information mentioned on the tire's sidewall is actually the maximum inflation pressure for the tire and filling the tire up to this level will over-inflate them, leading to the risk of tire blowouts, faster wear, reduced traction, or compromised braking. Likewise, underinflated tires can also be very dangerous and are a leading cause of tire failure, and may result in component separation or severe cracking.

Why Tire Inflation Pressure Is Important

Tire inflation pressure plays an important role when it comes to tire performance and tire safety. With a change in inflation pressure, the feel and responsiveness of the vehicle also greatly change. No matter if you own a coupe, sedan, hatchback, CUV, SUV, or light truck, there is always a bigger impact of inflation pressure on ride comfort, traction, wear, fuel economy, load capacity, and performance.


As highlighted above, the inflation pressure has a direct impact on tire performance. The fluctuation in tire pressure can make a ride stiffer or rougher, rather than offering a comfortable one. When the tires are underinflated, there’s an increase of treadwear on the outer edges along with an excessive generation of heat, which leads to faster tire aging. It also leads to more fuel consumption as the rolling resistance of underinflated tires is higher. Overinflated tires, on the other hand, put more of the vehicle’s weight on the center tread, causing faster deterioration and uneven wear.


Along with performance, tire inflation pressure may have a direct impact on the vehicle’s safety. While overinflated tires are susceptible to blowouts, warping, and affect vehicle responsiveness, underinflated tires also generate excessive heat, which may lead to blowouts. In addition, severe under-inflation may cause a tire to slip off the rim which may result in accidents.


In addition to performance and safety, there is another aspect of ‘value’ that’s related to tire inflation pressure. Both, underinflated and overinflated tires reduce the tire’s tread life, which makes it difficult for a driver to get an adequate return on their investment.

How to inflate tires

Keeping a few things in mind, you can easily inflate your tires in the below-mentioned steps:

  • Start with removing the screw-on cap from the valves and keep them safe.
  • Attach the nozzle head of the air compressor/pump to the valve stem and lock it properly so that the air can’t escape and fills directly through the valve stem.
  • Turn ON the compressor/air pump and inflate the tire to the recommended PSI level and double-check the PSI level in the tire pressure gauge.
  • Most compressors come with pre-set PSI filling capability hence you do not have to check the PSI level again and again. However, if your compressor doesn’t have the pre-set PSI feature or doesn’t come with the attached tire pressure gauge, you will have to fill for 5-10 seconds and then check using the manual tire pressure gauge, until the tires are filled to the recommended air pressure.
  • Once you have filled the air in all four tires, turn OFF the compressor/pump, unlock and remove the nozzle head, and cover the valve stems with the screw-on caps.
  • In case of filling the air while using the manual gauge, ensure that the tires are not overinflated. If you find any of the tires overinflated, release some air by pressing the valve pin, until the tire pressure comes to the recommended level.
  • During your routine tire pressure check, do not forget to inflate the spare tire as well.

Where to inflate tires

It is advisable to keep a portable tire inflator and tire pressure gauge in your vehicle so that you can use them in case of any emergency. For a periodic tire pressure check, you can visit a nearby gas station.

SimpleTire recommends keeping a periodic check on the overall condition of the tires and replacing them with new ones if you find them bald or not in the right state.

Yes, the tire pressure does affect the suspension performance. In case of higher inflation pressure, the tires become stiffer and the shocks are passed to the suspension system. Similarly, lower inflation pressure also strains the suspension system. Tires act like mini shock absorbers and provide additional cushioning to the passengers sitting inside the vehicle for improved comfort and at the same time absorb the direct shock impact that’s passed to the suspension system.

Typically, cars require a tire pressure of 30 to 35 PSI. However, it is advisable to refer to the recommended PSI level for your car that is mentioned in the owner’s manual of your vehicle. Usually, the recommended PSI level that’s mentioned in the owner’s manual is applicable year-round and isn’t distinct for summer or winter.

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