The advancements made in tire technology over the past several decades are impressive. You can choose from tires that are geared toward premium street performance, wet or snowy weather, off-road terrain, and cruising on highways at high speeds. However, with any kind of tire, optimal function relies on tire air pressure being maintained.
A properly inflated tire benefits overall vehicle function and is imperative for safety and fuel efficiency.
The Importance of Tire Air Pressure
Tires are manufactured to perform at specific air pressure. The recommended air pressure allows the tires to operate at their peak performance to support the vehicle's load and promote fuel efficiency and safety.
When you drive your vehicle with air pressure that meets the recommended standard, you should expect it to run and respond in the way that it was designed to. You can find the recommended air pressure in the vehicle owner's manual or driver's side door jamb. The pressure listed on the tire sidewall is not the optimal pressure, but rather the maximum air pressure.
The reason air pressure affects the vehicle's performance is simple. An improperly inflated tire does not maintain its intended shape. A tire that is underinflated takes more energy to move forward and loses some of its performance characteristics. It may also cause excess heat to build up inside the tire, which can lead to a blowout.
An overinflated tire will lose a great deal of its traction because the tread does not meet the road as intended. Overinflation also puts tires at risk of blowouts. Checking your air pressure regularly will help prevent issues like this from occurring and can help you and your passengers stay safe.
Tire Pressure & Fuel Efficiency
In addition to vehicle safety, tire pressure also plays a significant role in fuel efficiency. Most vehicles with inflation problems are rolling on tires that are underinflated. When a tire's air pressure is too low, more of the tire will make contact with the ground surface.
This creates a substantial amount of drag and requires more engine power to move the vehicle. Essentially, low tire pressure causes a vehicle to perform inefficiently. If you want maximized fuel efficiency, inflate your tires to the recommended pressure.
Prolonging Tire Life
Tire pressure also plays a key role in the life of your tires. An overinflated tire causes uneven wear on the center tread, greatly decreasing the overall life of a tire. Underinflated tires are prone to excessive shoulder wear. Uneven tread wear can also cause safety problems if left unchecked for long periods of time. Uneven wear requires you too prematurely replace your tires.
Check Your Tires Often
A tire air pressure gauge is an easy-to-use instrument that should be used often. Checking tire pressure once a week, when tires are cool, will ensure that air pressure levels are appropriate in all tires, allowing for safe and efficient travel.
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