They are where the rubber meets the road. I’m talking about … your tires. They’re the one thing — OK, the four things — standing between you and the pavement. And yet proper tire inflation is among the most misunderstood of car maintenance activities.
Clearly, it’s important, but keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure can be confusing. Here are tips to take the pressure off:
- Check your tire pressure monthly. Tires lose roughly 1 pound per square inch of pressure per month and 1 psi per 10 degrees of outside temperature.
- Don’t rely on your car’s tire pressure monitoring sensor — and certainly not the old kick-the-tires test — to tell you when it’s time to add air.
- To check your tire’s pressure, pick up a gauge at any auto parts store. Pop the cap, press the gauge onto the valve stem and get a reading of your tire’s current pressure. Then add or subtract air as necessary.
- Know your specs. It’s a common misconception that the correct tire pressure is listed on the sidewall of the tire; that figure is actually the maximum pressure the tire can handle and it’s way higher than the pressure you should be using.
- Newer cars list the tire pressure on the driver-side doorframe, or you can check your owner’s manual.
- Know which is which. Cars have at least three separate pressure ratings listed: one for the front, one for the rear and one for the spare (if your car has one). Heed those recommendations.
Follow these tips and you can rest assured that your tire-pressure game will be airtight.