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Checking your tire pressure
Recently I was listening to an interview with a tire expert here on 680News done by business editor Leah Walker. They were discussing the importance of proper tire pressure. Not only can proper pressure help you save money on gas but there are also some safety concerns. Having either over or under inflated tires can cause a car to handle and brake poorly and can decrease the life of your tires. Operating a vehicle with just one tire under-inflated by 20 per cent (approx. 8 psi) can reduce the life of the tire by nearly 15,000 KMs and can increase the vehicle’s fuel consumption by 4 per cent.
So how do you know what your correct tire pressure is? It’s probably wise to go by what your vehicle manufacturer recommends, which should be listed on the side of the driver’s door, on the glove compartment door, or in the owner’s manual.
You should check the pressure of all five of your tires (don’t forget the spare) at least once a month, and before any long trip. Tires are permeable and can lose up to 2 psi (pounds of pressure) per month. It is especially important to check the pressure in the summer since more air from tires is lost in hot weather.
If I know all this, why don’t I check my tire pressure more often? Well, I’ll tell you why. I’m intimidated believe it or not. I have tried to check the pressure in the past and have had real trouble figuring out how to work those tire pressure machines at service stations. And since most gas stations are self serve there is no one to help me if I run into trouble. I just can’t get the air to work. I guess I don’t have the right technique.
I also have problems getting an accurate reading from the attached tire pressure gauge. I place it on the valve, let some air out of my tire, and then try and read it. I can’t read the gauge when it is on the tire and when I remove it from the tire valve it goes back to zero. So I have to hold the gauge in place with my finger. I’m sure this has an affect on the accuracy. I am also worried that, after several tries, by the time I am able to read the thing I will have completely deflated my tire! Then I’m in big trouble!
So how do I overcome this? First of all I bought myself a digital tire gauge. According to the experts the tire gauges that are attached to the air meters at service stations might not be all that accurate since they are outside through all kinds of weather and can be subject to abuse of various kinds. You really should have your own personal tire gauge. So I bought a good one.
I also know that you are supposed to check your tire pressure when your tires are cold. “Cold” means that a vehicle has been stationary for at least three hours or has been driven less than 2 KMs. But if I check them at home I still have to drive to a service station and by then my tires may be warm and the reading might be off. So here’s what you do. Before you leave home, measure the pressure of each tire and record the amount. When you get to the service station measure each tire again and then inflate the warm tire to the recommended level and add the cold under-inflation amount. There’s a bit of math involved but I think I can handle that.
And the technique for actually getting the air into the tire? Well I’m just going to have to work on it til I get it right!
So today’s the day. Wish me luck!