Have you ever been driving along, minding all of your lovely business, feeling good, and smelling like success… then out of nowhere, an orange-ish warning light flashes across your dash board? You know, it’s the one with the exclamation point in the middle of it (see the culprit below). Did you freak out a little bit? Well, I want to be the first to let you know that light is a alert light for your tire pressure.
When I was a teenager, my brother taught me how to check tire pressure and put air in the tires of our mother’s car. I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned by my brother and others close to me so you can equip yourself. Now you can chill with all future freak out sessions, at least in regards to the tire pressure light, because I’mma learn ya (that’s super Southern for “I’m going to teach you”), like my brother learned me on what to do when that light comes on and ways to resolve it.
Why is tire pressure important?
There are a lot of reasons that we should maintain tire pressure at the recommended levels besides the obvious prevention of your tire going flat or even having a blow out.
Low tire pressure can contribute to some of the following:
- Increased fuel consumption – meaning your car will burn more gas than if your tires were operating at the recommended levels.
- There could be uneven wearing on your tires.
- There can be an negative affect on your braking distances. So, if you need to stop suddenly, the distance you travel upon braking could be impacted.
How do I know how much pressure my tire should have?
Good question. There are multiple places to locate your car manufacturer’s tire pressure recommendation. You can find the recommendations in the manufacturer’s booklet that comes with your car and you can find them on the inside panel of driver’s side door. Check out the last column in the chart below.
Pressure is measured in PSI, pounds per square inch. I used a picture of my inside door panel as an example, and the manufacturer states my front tires should be at 32 PSI and my rear tires have 35 PSI.
How is tire pressure measured?
See… I like chatting with you, you know exactly what to ask. A tire pressure gauge is used to measure your tire pressure. Nowadays, the mechanical tire air machines at gas stations have gauges within the machines to measure the pressure of your tires as you pump. But I’m old school and I keep a tire pressure gauge in my car. You can find them almost anywhere, at your local automotive store, your local big-box store, and you even can order it online if you’re cool with waiting.
Taking tire pressure
If your car doesn’t have an internal tire pressure reader, then the only way you’ll know how many PSI you have, is by manually taking tire pressure. You want to have you gauge in hand while you take the cap off the valve of your tire. Make sure you, keep it close – they’re super tiny and easy to lose.
Once the cap is off, make sure the bottom of the gauge (the white stem) is pushed all the way in. Take your gauge and place the open circular end of the on top of the tire valve. Press the gauge firmly on the valve. You’ll hear a hissing sound and the white stem will pop out giving a reading of PSI in the tire measured. This process should take seconds to complete.
Adding air to the tire…
Adding air is almost the same steps as checking tire pressure, but you’ll hold the air nozzle/hose of the air pump to the valve for a longer period of time. In this post, I’m using a pancake air compressor as opposed to being at a gas station. Whichever method you use, you want to make sure the device you’re using is on and running.
Take the air nozzle and press it firmly against the valve of the tire you want to add air to. At this time, you shouldn’t hear/feel air seeping out (loud hissing) of the nozzle. You should hear a sound of sealed air moving from the nozzle to the tire.
This process could take several seconds up to a couple of minutes depending on how much air you need. It is important to check the pressure with the gauge throughout the process to ensure you don’t over-fill or under-fill the tire.
When you reach the recommended PSI, you can stop. Put your cap back on the valve and YOU’RE GOOD TO GO (literally)!
Be ready, so you won’t have to get ready!
Here are some things you may want to keep in mind:
- Know your surroundings – do you know where you can get air for your tires in your home town?
- It may help to keep an air pressure gauge in your car just in case.
- This post shows you how to check your tire pressure manually, but nowadays many cars provide the tire pressure reading of your tires electronically. See the owner’s manual of your vehicle on how to check your pressure electronically.