The Pressure’s On: How Weather Affects Your Tire Pressure in Winter
Did you know that as temperatures drop, so too does your tire pressure? Fluctuations in temperature result in a change of around one pound of pressure (PSI) per every ten degrees Fahrenheit changed. That means a drop from 50 degrees to 30 comes with a decrease of 2 psi. These numbers may seem small, but they make a huge difference in both the wear of your tires and the safety of your driving. You already know that freezing temperatures mess with your engine, but even slight changes hurt your tire pressure. Here’s what every vehicle owner needs to know about their tire pressure in winter.
What Tire Pressure Means for Your Vehicle
Your tires and vehicle have an optimum tire pressure that provides safety, smooth driving, and protects the quality of your tires. Both cold and warm weather impact your optimum pressure. Just as your pressure drops by one pound of pressure per ten degree drop, your pressure also increases when it gets too warm. Driving extensively without even tire pressure wreaks havoc on your cars gas mileage, damages handling, and adds unnecessary wear and tear to your tires in the interim. Losing even ten or fifteen percent tire pressure in winter weakens your tires, and it puts you at higher risk for a blow out caused by damage.
When Does Low Tire Pressure Matter Most?
Losing a few PSI, like two or three, isn’t the end of the world. It won’t do your gas mileage any favors, but it also won’t destroy your tires. It still, however, does add wear and tear, so you shouldn’t drive with even a loss of 10 percent PSI for long distances. The issue arrives when you start falling dangerously low – like 15 or 20 PSI depending on your tires. When you drive with incredibly low pressure, the side walls of the tires flex as you operate at high speeds. The continuous flexing results in the generation of heat, which breaks down the steel and synthetic fiber. Sooner rather than later, the tire will break and blow.
How to Check Your Tire Pressure in Winter
Whether you plan to drive your passenger vehicle, an RV, or a semi-truck, you should inspect the air pressure and wear and tear of your tires before you drive in extreme temperatures. Checking tire pressure in the cold means taking a few extra steps compared to milder temperatures. First, check your tires only after your vehicle sat in park for several hours. The air in your tires warms up as you drive, so pulling into a gas station while driving won’t give you an accurate reading. Check the PSI according to the tire manufacturer’s recommended measurement. You’ll see it on the tire or the door of the vehicle. Write down the recorded PSI for each tire, and check the pressure with a gauge. Fill up the tires to the recommended PSI before going anywhere.
Add Tires to Your Winter Checklist
As winter rolls around, don’t forget about your vehicle maintenance checklist. Tire pressure in winter plummets with temperatures, and it’s almost always better to have a tire pressure that’s too high than too low. Are you hitting the road this winter? Read our guide on why you should get an inspection before you begin your next journey.