Tires are the only component of your vehicle that contacts the road, which means they're one of your car's most important safety features. Tires can make a huge difference when it comes to your safety, and chances are you already know how crucial it is to keep them properly inflated. Read on to learn all about underinflated tires.
Effects of Driving on underinflated tires
- Steering difficulty
Underinflated tires cause steering problems because they have less traction and grip on the road surface. It makes it hard for the driver to control the car's movements, which could lead to an accident if not corrected immediately. Underinflated tires also affect cornering ability because they tend to overheat and lose grip more easily on turns than properly inflated ones.
When you have a slow leak or lose air for any other reason, the pressure in your tire drops over time. As the pressure drops, so does the contact patch between your tire and the road. When this happens, your vehicle becomes more unstable. It requires more effort to keep it on track, and the car will vibrate more than usual.
- Visible cracks on the tire's sidewalls
When your truck tires are underinflated, they can't handle the weight of your vehicle. That puts extra strain on the tire sidewalls and causes them to bulge outward. As you drive down the road, the bulge rubs against the pavement and causes a crack in your sidewall. The crack will get bigger as you drive until it eventually breaks open, causing air to leak.
Underinflated tires also wear out faster than properly inflated ones because they work harder than they should. The tread blocks are thinner on underinflated tires, which means that each one has more surface area in contact with the road — and more friction with every revolution of the wheel.
- Poor braking performance
When your tires are underinflated, they don't provide as much traction as they should. It means the brakes won't be able to stop the vehicle as quickly as they should, and you may have trouble getting your car to slow down or stop when needed. In an emergency, this can be dangerous.
- Poor gas mileage
Underinflated tires can cause your vehicle to use up more fuel than it would with properly inflated tires. It is especially true for trucks and SUVs carrying heavy loads or going up hills.
- Premature tread wear
The extra friction generated by an under-inflated tire reduces its life span, so you'll need new tires sooner than you normally would — or pay more money at the shop when they finally wear out.
- Increased road noise
Underinflated tires produce more noise as they roll along because there's less air for the tread to push against the road surface. The noise might be heard from inside the vehicle and outside of it by anyone nearby when you're driving.
- Safety issues
Underinflation contributes to skidding and loss of control in wet weather or snowy conditions because less rubber is in contact with the road surface than when properly inflated tires are in use. It puts everyone at risk when driving on underinflated tires — especially in inclement weather conditions.
Tips to determine the proper tire pressure for your vehicle
- Check the owner's manual
Tire pressure is essential for many reasons. It affects your gas mileage, the ride quality of your vehicle, and even your safety. The owner's manual for your car or truck will tell you what the proper tire pressure should be for your vehicle. If you don't have the owner's manual, look on the inner edge of one of the doors on the driver's side. It will tell you what the recommended tire pressure is for that vehicle.
The TPMS is designed to alert you if your tires are underinflated, so you can correct the problem before it becomes a safety hazard.
The TPMS is a combination of sensors and warning lights that communicate with each other, including your vehicle's computer. The sensors are usually located in each wheel well or inside the tire, measuring the air pressure.
When one or more of these sensors detects an underinflated tire, it sends a signal to the vehicle's computer. The computer then determines whether there's enough air in all four tires to meet minimum safety standards. If not, it sets off a warning light on your dashboard. This light may flash or stay on continuously until you take action.
- Use an accurate pressure gauge
Tire pressure gauges are simple tools that measure the air pressure in your tires. They come in many different forms, but all serve the same purpose. You can buy them at any auto parts store, usually costing less than $10. If you properly maintain your tires and keep them correctly inflated, you will notice a big difference in their performance on the road.
You should make sure that your tires are at the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch). It is a measurement of how much air is inside the tire. An accurate tire pressure gauge will help you keep track of how much air is in each tire. Because they can save lives, every driver must have one in their car.
- Do not follow the pressure listed on the tire sidewall
The tire pressure displayed on the sidewall of your tire is not a vehicle manufacturer's recommendation. It is a maximum inflation level meant to be used only as a reference. It's the maximum air pressure you can put in the tire without exceeding its maximum load rating (80 psi for passenger vehicles).
Under-inflated tires can result in several potentially dangerous problems for you, your passengers, and other motorists. The best way to avoid any safety issues is by regularly checking your tire pressure. If your tires are low on air, inflate them as soon as possible so you can get back on the road safely. Replace tires if needed, and make sure to invest in high-quality tires like Toyo tires.