Are you Looking for expert insights on how to inflate tires? You’re not alone. As per RMA (Rubber Manufacturer Association), 83% of motorists lack this knowledge. And it can lead to regrets. In the US, driving over or underinflated tires results in 78,000 accidents, 10,200 serious injuries, and approximately 500 deaths annually. That’s why we have compiled this ultimate guide to help conscious drivers like you learn all about tire inflation and pressure inspection.
Table of Contents
Understanding Tire Pressure in Different Weather Conditions
Tire loses air over time due to the porous nature of rubber. However, the fluctuation becomes noticeable during hot and cold weather. In cold weather, compression occurs. Air molecules slow down and come closer, taking up less space.
Likewise, during hot weather conditions, air molecules expand, leading to increased tire pressure. Hence, for every 10℉ rise or fall in temperature, expect the tire to lose 1 to 2 psi.
Well, these natural fluctuations can affect your tire inflation schedule. For example, when the temperature is usually low in the morning, your tire pressure may lose some air.
Similarly, after a hot summer day, the car tires may have slightly increased air pressure. Checking and inflating tires to the recommended pressure is crucial in both cases.
How Do You Know What Tire Pressure You Need?
Now you may wonder,” How do I know what tire pressure my car tires need? Well, it’s highlighted in the owner’s manual you got with a vehicle. Moreover, the driver-side door jamb and tires have ratings for recommended air pressure.
However, remember that the psi ratings mentioned on a tire sidewall are the maximum pressure your vehicle tires can hold. So, you shouldn’t consider it an exact value.
You can use several online pressure measuring calculators or charts to find the correct air pressure for your tires. For example, Firestone offers a tool where you enter the year, engine type, brand name, and zip code to get the recommended tire air pressure.
Tire Pressure Range for Different Vehicles
The following are the standard air pressure ratings for different kinds of vehicles. Tire pressure falls anywhere between these numbers, depending on vehicle type.
How to Inflate Tires? A Step-by-step Procedure
After figuring out the correct air pressure, it’s time to fill the tires up to that limit. So, here are the steps to follow when inflating tires during travelling.
Park the car in a safe place and let the tires cool
Gather the tools
Remove the valve and check the current tire pressure using the gauge
Hook up the air compressor to the tire valve
Recheck tire pressure and adjust accordingly
Reinstall valve caps
Park your car in a safe place:
If you’re on a journey and need to inflate tires, first park your vehicle in a safe place. Wait for a few minutes until the tires come to average temperature. Checking air pressure in hot tires will not give accurate readings.
Check current tire pressure using the gauge:
Next, take a pressure gauge to determine the current air pressure in your tires. It can be a digital gauge displaying ratings on a screen, a dial with a needle moving between numbers or a long stick with numbering in psi.
Nowadays, digital and stick tire pressure gauges are used due to their ease and accuracy. If you’re using a stick gauge, put it in a valve after removing the cap and press a bit. Look how far the measuring section came out. Mark it. That’s your current tire pressure.
Inflate the tire:
Compare current tire pressure with the recommended one and see the difference. You must pump air to the recommended level if the tire is underinflated. There are different types of air compressors in the market.
For example, pre-set or auto inflators automatically cut off airflow once the level reaches the set limits, or cordless compressors that use rechargeable batteries as a power source. Also, piston compressors for easy grip and portable inflators are available for storing in compact spaces and use in emergencies.
Modern air compressors have many features like built-in gauges, LED lights, air chucks, etc. You can choose whatever feature is most important to you. However, we recommend paying attention to the pressure limits, duty cycle, ease of use, and weight when buying a tire air compressor.
If you have a car as a travelling companion, consider buying a portable air compressor with a maximum pressure capability of 40 psi. After getting an air compressor, follow these steps:
- Attach the air hose to the tire valve.
- Hold it firmly and turn on the pump.
- Continue this process until the air pressure rises to the recommended range.
- Remove the hose and recheck the pressure using a gauge.
- If it’s up to the desired limit, close the valve, and you’re good to go.
Should You Use a Bicycle Pump to Inflate Tires?
You can use a bicycle pump to inflate your car tires. But it’ll take a long time, say 15 to 20 minutes, as a rough estimation. In contrast, an air compressor can complete the task in 5 or 6 minutes. So, if you’re in a hurry, using a bike pump to inflate tires is not wise.
NHTSA Regulations for Tire Pressure
Check your tires’ pressure, including the stepney, at least once a month
Always inspect pressure when tires are cold, i.e., do not drive for 3 hours at least.
Monitor TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) to be aware of tire pressure.
Never take the risk of riding on low or under-inflated tires, especially in crowded pathways.
Tips to Keep Tires Properly Inflated
Maintaining your car tires means ensuring your and others’ safety. Moreover, clean and properly inflated tires don’t burden your pocket. So, here are some tips to keep tires within their recommended pressure range.
- Check tire pressure regularly, especially after a long day trip or if you live in regions where climate conditions fluctuate. If not, at least try to run a monthly inspection on all tires.
- Keep tire pressure checking and inflating toolkits ready in your vehicle. It should also include valve caps so that you have another to install if you miss the original one.
- If you have a loading vehicle like a trailer or a commercial truck, refer to the user manual for maximum tire pressure according to the load capacity.
- Consider buying a vehicle with built-in TPMS or installing it using retrofit kits so you can keep a check on tire pressure. TPMS turns on when tire pressure is approximately 25% below the recommended figures.
- Besides, manually check your car tires for cuts, bulges, and holes. Sometimes, a tiny object can puncture the tire, leaving you in trouble.
Should front tires have high pressure?
It’s not always the case. Many vehicles run at the same pressure on all tires. The ones that need front tire pressure slightly higher than rear tires are due to the engine and transmission weight at the front side. Checking with your owner’s manual may help resolve the confusion.
How long can you go with low-pressure tires?
You can drive 50 to 70 miles on underinflated tires at moderate speed. However, we don’t recommend doing so, as low pressure can lead to blowouts. Moreover, driving underinflated tires results in high fuel consumption.
Well, that’s all you must know regarding tire air pressure. Hopefully, this guide on “how to inflate tires” has helped you understand the ins and outs of keeping tires within recommended pressure. Remember, it’s not only about you; it’s also about people around you. So, grab your tools and follow the tips to ensure safe driving!