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How and when to check your tyre pressure

While most of us are guilty of forgetting to check tyre pressures, it’s important to remember the impact that this can have on performance and safety.

A properly maintained tyre, for instance, will last longer, have quicker steering response and better fuel efficiency. A neglected tyre, on the other hand, could affect the ability to brake, steer or manoeuvre.

 

To help you catch your wheels before they become problematic, we’re going to explain how, why and when to check tyre pressure. Hopefully, then, we’ll save your wallet from any unwanted costs – and keep your wheels safe in the process. But remember, if you are in doubt about how to maintain your tyres, simply get in touch with the TOTD team today and one of our advisers will be happy to help.

 

What is tyre pressure?

In its simplest form, tyre pressure is merely the volume measurement of air inside a tyre. This is often measured in pounds per square inch (PSI) but is also expressed as “BAR” – which refers to 1 atmosphere of pressure.

 

1 BAR is equal to 14.5038 PSI.

 

If this sounds confusing, don’t worry: you don’t need to have a deep understanding of how these measurements are calculated, just that they reflect the measure of pressure in your tyre. Whether you need to use PSI or BAR will depend on the figure shown in your vehicle’s handbook – but we’ll talk more about this later.

Why should I regularly check my tyre pressure?

The life of a tyre is tough. From tricky terrains to demanding weather conditions, these four rings of rubber are the only contact between the road and your vehicle – which means they often bear the brunt of daily use.

Naturally, an aftereffect of this is a loss of tyre pressure. Roughly 1-3 pounds per square inch per month, to be exact. This is known as “leaking” and it happens as a result of permeation, which causes air to escape through the tyre wall. While this is completely normal and happens over time, a tyre should be checked regularly to make sure the air pressure doesn’t drop to a dangerous level. If it does, the tyre’s surface area can increase and you risk wearing the tread down more quickly (read about checking your tyre tread). In extreme cases, this rapid rise in friction can cause a tyre to blowout.

 

Here are just some of the dangers of under- or over-inflating your tyres:

  • Increased risk of punctures and tyre damage
  • Risk of over- or under-steering
  • Risk of blowing the tyre
  • Faster wear of tread
  • Reduced aquaplaning resistance
  • Loss of traction
  • Longer braking distances
  • Increased fuel consumption
  • More costly
  • Excessive heat build-up
  • Uneven tread wear

 

As you can see, maintaining tyre pressure is necessary for keeping you and your car safe on the road. But how do you know what the exact tyre pressure should be? Let’s move on.

 

Where can I find the recommended tyre pressure for my vehicle?

While many people rely on their tyre’s physical markings to find the pressure level required for their vehicle, it isn’t recommended. The reason being that the pressure figure printed on your tyre’s sidewall is only the maximum allowable air pressure, not the recommended. Therefore, the recommended tyre pressure for your vehicle could, in fact, be a lot lower.

The best place to find the recommended air pressure for your vehicle is in your handbook/owner’s manual. The correct laden pressure might also be stamped in the sill of the driver’s door or inside the vehicle’s petrol cap.

Here’s an example of what it will look like:

Tyre Size Front Tyres Rear Tyres

165/70R14 T 81

 2.3 BAR / 34PSI

2.1 BAR / 31PSI

175/65R14 H 82

2.3 BAR / 34PSI

2.1 BAR / 31PSI

185/60R14 H 86

2.1 BAR / 31PSI

2.1 BAR / 31PSI

 195/50R15 H82

 2.3 BAR / 34PSI

2.1 BAR / 31PSI

“Recommended tyre pressure tables are usually split by front and rear tyres. These optimal pressures tend to be greater for the front tyres; however, the rear tyres may need extra inflation if you are carrying extra passengers or heavy luggage – so please bear this in mind.”

Daniel Bezer, Tyre Expert

What is TPMS?

TPMS stands for Tyre Pressure Monitoring System. This is a system built to monitor the air pressure of a vehicle’s tyres and report back to the driver in real-time. This will tell the driver whether one or more of the tyres are under-inflated. If you have TPMS and your tyre pressure has dropped, it will show a yellow symbol illuminated on the dashboard (indicated by a flat tyre with an exclamation point).

There are two types of TPMS: indirect and direct.

 

Indirect

 

An indirect TPMS takes signals from a vehicle’s anti-lock brake system (ABS) and evaluates the wheel speed. If a wheel begins to behave unusually (such as spinning faster than expected), a warning lamp will illuminate on the dashboard.

 

Direct

 

A direct TPMS means that each tyre is equipped with a pressure-monitoring sensor which feeds information to a control unit. From here, the data is analysed and fed back to the driver in real-time. Depending on the vehicle, it may even provide tyre temperature readings.

While both forms of TPMS are useful for keeping a driver abreast of any problems with their tyre pressure, it shouldn’t simply be a case of waiting for a warning sign on the dashboard. TPMS is not a replacement for manual tyre pressure checks, and you should still use a gauge on a regular basis.

How Tyres on the Drive check tyre pressure

Here at Tyres on the Drive, we have experienced technicians who can quickly take your tyre pressure reading. Our team use the latest industry technology to make sure your tyres are always inline with the recommendations made by your vehicle manufacturer.

If you’re in doubt about your vehicle’s tyre pressure, or you think you may need an adviser to give you a hand, simply contact our customer support team by calling 0333 016 6550.

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