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What’s the Correct Tire Pressure for My Car?

Keeping your car tires inflated to the correct pressure is critical if you want to keep your car on the road for a long time. Tire pressure affects many aspects of your drive, from safety to fuel economy, so it’s quite important to maintain it properly. The pressure of your tires is measured in PSI, and there’s an easy way to figure it out!

What is PSI?

PSI stands for pounds per square inch, and it’s a standardized way of representing the amount of pressure in or around an object. It describes how many pounds of pressure are pushing on a square inch of an object. For example, the pressure exerted from all of the air above an object on earth is about 14.7 PSI. 

Why it’s important

Your car’s tires are rated for a certain pressure range, which is typically between 32 and 45 PSI depending on the type of vehicle you have. Going below this range can seriously drain your wallet. Low PSI causes your tires and engine to wear out sooner. Pressures above the rated range increase the risk for blowouts or sub-par traction on slippery surfaces. Keeping your tires within the recommended range is your best bet for a smooth ride and great mileage. 

How to Find the PSI of Your Tires

There are several ways to find the rated pressure for your tires. Most cars have this information printed in the manual. However, if your car is a few years old or has a different brand of tire than what came with the car, this isn’t the most reliable way to find the right PSI. 

Every tire manufacturer prints their tire’s PSI on the side. It can be hard to see if it’s upside down or if the tire is dirty, but take a look at the side of your tire. You’ll see a “Maximum Rated Pressure,” and that’s the pressure you want the tires to be at. 

When to Check and Fill Your Tires

The best time to check your tires is when they’re cold. You don’t need to wait for a cold day, though. Cold, in this case, simply means that they haven’t been warmed up by driving around town. When you drive on tires, the friction from the road heats them up and expands the air inside.

This is why there’s a maximum rated pressure, and it’s different for each tire, because the manufacturer of that tire has tested how much the tire will expand before it pops at a given pressure. Checking the tires when hot won’t give you an accurate reading. 

Your tires are the only thing keeping your car stuck to the road, so it’s important to keep a watchful eye on them! You don’t even need to check them with a gauge most of the time. Just give them a quick glance every time you get in the car. If they look a little low, make sure you fill them to the proper PSI!

Photo by ekapong_1980 from getty images via Canva Pro