Archive for the ‘cold weather tire inflation’ Tag

Checking Tire Pressure

Picture this. It’s a brisk fall morning, and and you’ve overslept a few minutes, because let’s face it, the bed is warmer than the air outside. You rush through your morning routine. When you finally get into your car, you are greeted by an ominous warning on your dash: Low Tire Pressure. You get out and walk around the car checking your tires to see if they look low. But they look fine, so you take the risk and drive to work, wondering if you are about to experience a flat tire. Later that day, you get in the car to go to lunch and the light is out. All is forgiven, and you promptly forget about it…until the next time it happens.
What is happening?

Sound familiar? If it does, don’t worry. You are not alone. It happens to millions of people every day, most often when we get the first hint of a fall chill in the morning air. In 2005 automakers began installing tire pressure monitoring systems on new cars. By 2012, all passenger cars sold in the U.S. were required to have a tire pressure monitoring system. Most cars use a sensor mounted inside the wheel to monitor pressure. When air pressure inside a tire drops by a predetermined amount the light comes on , and stays on, until the pressure is corrected.
Why does it happen in the fall?

The tire pressure light can, and will, come on anytime the pressure falls below the threshold set at the factory. There are many reasons for a tire to lose pressure. Punctures, leaky valve stems, and poor sealing at the bead just to name a few. There is also a certain amount of air that is lost directly through the rubber itself, but by far the most common cause of pressure loss is the contraction of the air due to cold weather. The air in your tire is comprised of many elements, including water, which has a tendency to expand and contract with temperature changes. When it gets cold, the air inside your tire contracts and the warning light comes on. The tire can lose up to a pound for every 10 degrees of temperature change. Friction caused by driving, as well as afternoon heating, can frequently return the air in tires to enough of its original density that the light turns off, making the problem go away. For now…

Why should I care?

In the days before tire pressure monitors, many of us went about our normal lives completely unaware of what was happening without repercussions. Should knowing suddenly make us take notice? Absolutely. Properly inflated tires handle better, last longer, and reduce the risk of spontaneous failure. Oh, it saves money on gas too!

Why do my tires have green or blue caps?

In the mid 2000s filling tires with nitrogen got very popular. Nitrogen is a popular and inexpensive alternative to air with some additional benefits. Nitrogen is dryer than air, reducing the impact water has on inflation. Nitrogen is also bigger at a molecular level. This fact reduces the amount of gas lost to microscopic leaks. The bottom line is that nitrogen is more stable than the air we breathe, and many people feel it is a better choice for filling tires. When a shop fills tires with nitrogen they will typically replace the valve caps with ones that are green or blue. This is to let the next person filling your tires know what is in them. Mixing air and nitrogen is perfectly safe, but doing so dilutes the nitrogen and offsets the benefits.

Don’t throw away your tire gauge

Now that you have a tire pressure monitor, and maybe even nitrogen, in your tires, do you still need a tire pressure gauge? Yes you do. Checking your tire pressures periodically can help you stay ahead of a low tire light coming on. While doing so, why not take a minute and look at the tread too? Try the Lincoln penny test. Simply insert a penny in your tire tread, upside down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s hair it means there is not enough tread depth left, and it is time for a new tire.

Tire pressure affects handling and braking, critical factors to a safe trip. Properly inflated tires last longer and are much safer. Plus, it’s estimated that under-inflated tires waste 2 billion gallons of gasoline every year. So do yourself and your wallet a favor by checking your tire pressure often, especially in the fall.

Read more at: http://www.carfax.com/blog/checking-tire-pressure/

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Cool weather and tire pressure: Protect yourself

Proper inflation of your tires is essential during the cold winter months.

The cooler temperatures can cause the air in your vehicle’s tires to contract and thus make your tire pressure fluctuate. Tires need to have proper grip to the pavement so that you, as the driver, can control the vehicle.

A tire that is grossly underinflated can separate from the wheel rim, causing an accident. An underinflated tire creates friction that can cause the tread to separate and the tire to fail. Underinflated tires also wear more quickly and burn more gasoline.

You should check your tire pressure more often in the winter months. Less sunlight and colder ambient temperatures will reduce your tire pressure about 1 pound per square inch (PSI) for every 10-degree Fahrenheit change in the thermometer.

That is, if you last checked your tires on a 70-degree summer morning, they could lose 3 psi when the temperature drops to 40.
How to set tire pressures
The tires on your car should be set to the pressures listed in your owner’s manual or on the door edge.You may find recommended “cold” pressures; that means you should set the tire to this pressure before the car has been driven, which warms and expands the air inside the tire. You may also find maximum allowable pressures listed. An overinflated tire can lose grip and wear unevenly.

Vehicles built since 2007 include tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) as standard equipment, a safety feature required by the federal government. At minimum, your car should provide an alert if one or more of your tires falls below a minimum tire pressure. Some cars offer a real-time readout that displays the current tire pressures at each corner of the car.
TPMS is an important safety feature, but do not expect an insurance discount for cars so equipped. (See how your choice of car affects your car insurance and discounts.)
While TPMS alerts a driver to pressures that have fallen into a dangerous zone, you should check tires regularly even without a warning light. Tire pressure gauges are readily available and inexpensive; a digital or dial gauge will be more reliable and easier to read than an old-fashioned pen-style gauge. You’ll see these benefits:

A properly inflated tire improves gas mileage. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that underinflated tires waste 2 billion gallons of gasoline a year.
A properly inflated tire wears more slowly. If you see tires wearing on their edges but not at their centers, your tires are underinflated. Conversely, worn centers are a sign of overinflation.
A properly inflated tire is safer. Your car is putting more rubber on the pavement, which means handling is more secure and braking is more stable.

Many people tend to forget to check their spare tire as well; check the spare when you change your oil and you’ll avoid an expensive road-service claim.

As read on: http://www.carinsurance.com/Articles/content197.aspx