Did you know that tires with the right pressure reduce the risk of a blowout? And did you know that you drive more economically if your tires are properly inflated? It's really not hard to do! We'll show you how.
Step 1. Buy a tire pressure gauge
You can buy such a meter at Halfords or at larger gas stations, for example. There are different types of tire pressure gauges:
- The pen type looks like a thin metal tube, the ruler-like voltage indication comes out of the top. They are not very accurate and sometimes difficult to read, but they are cheap and usually good enough.
- Meters with a pointer are more accurate, you can usually read the voltage very precisely.
- Digital meters have an LCD screen on which you can immediately read the voltage.
Method 1 of 3: Checking the tire pressure
Step 1. Find the recommended tire pressure
This can be found in the owner's manual, on a sticker on the sill on the driver's side or in the glove compartment.
- Sometimes it is the same for all tires, but sometimes the front tires require a different pressure than the rear tires.
- Normally, the recommended pressure is somewhere between 28 and 36 psi (which stands for "pound-force per square inch") or 1.95 to 2.5 bar.
- You can find the maximum pressure on the tires, but only use this pressure if you can't find the recommended pressure for your car anywhere. The maximum voltage is certainly not always the best voltage.
Step 2. Check the tire pressure if the tires are 'cold'
When you have driven, the tires get warm. Warm air expands, so you will never be able to read the correct pressure with 'warm' tires.
Step 3. Remove the cap from the valve
There is a valve on the tire, unscrew the cap of the valve and put it in a place where you can easily find it.
Step 4. Put the tire pressure gauge on the valve
Press the gauge straight and firmly onto the valve. If you hear air escaping, the gauge is not seated correctly, push a little harder until the hissing stops. Read the tire pressure.
If the tire pressure corresponds to the recommended tire pressure, you can put the cap back on the valve and move on to the next tire. Repeat this process for all tires, including the spare wheel. If you have to change your tire on the way, you naturally want the spare wheel to be properly inflated
Method 2 of 3: Adding air to a car tire
Step 1. Look for a compressor
If you don't have your own compressor - most people don't - it's best to go to a gas station. Take some change with you, because usually you have to put some coins in the machine.
There are also handy compressors that work on 12 volts (cigarette lighter). They are not nearly as powerful as the compressors at gas stations, but can be very useful in emergency situations
Step 2. Remove the cap from the valve
Step 3. Turn on the compressor
You usually turn on the compressor by tossing a coin into it.
Step 4. Place the end of the hose firmly on the valve
Press it well, just like with the tire pressure gauge. Press the button to start adding air. If you hear a lot of hissing, you may need to press the nozzle a little more firmly.
- The lower your tire pressure, the longer you have to add air. Release the compressor handle to see if there is enough air in the tire (usually the gauge will not show pressure until you release the handle). With some compressors you can first set the desired voltage. The compressor will then automatically stop adding air when the tire is inflated.
- When the tire is almost inflated, it is best to add air in short bursts, no longer than 5 seconds. Then wait for a while until the pointer on the compressor has stopped. If you have added too much air, you can press your tire pressure gauge on the pin in the center of the valve to let air escape.
Step 5. Put the cap back on the valve
When the tire is up to pressure, you can put the cap back on the valve and repeat the process with the other four tires.
If you drove to the gas station after measuring the tire pressure, your tires will have warmed up by now. Rely on your own reading and add, for example, 10 psi if you have determined that at home. Check the pressure again a few hours later when the tires have cooled down again
Method 3 of 3: For cyclists
Step 1. Buy a tire pressure gauge suitable for bicycle tires
A car tire pressure gauge is not suitable for bicycle tires.
Step 2. Use a hand pump
Follow the steps as explained above, including checking a cold tire.
Step 3. Check the tire pressure before every bike ride
Bicycle tires are much smaller than car tires and respond more quickly to changes in air temperature. The pressure will drop as the temperature drops. 5 degrees colder results in a tire pressure that is 2% lower.
Suppose it is 32 degrees Celsius when you leave and the tire pressure is 100psi. If you come back to 16 degrees Celsius late at night, your tire pressure will be about 94 psi; a difference you will definitely notice
Step 4. Don't put too much air in your tire
A tire that is too hard can be very annoying on cobblestones or a bike path with bumps. And in wet weather you have more traction if you make the tire a little softer.
- Check the tire pressure once a month.
- A compressor at gas stations usually does not last very long. Park your car in such a way that you can reach all tires with the hose and unscrew all caps of the valves beforehand.
- See how the compressor works and how you attach the hose to your valve before throwing in a coin.
- Do not use a gas station compressor for a bicycle tire. The pressure is way too high and your tire will break.
- Too much air in a car tire causes faster wear and bumpy driving. Too little air can cause overheating, blowout tires and higher fuel consumption
- The gauges on gas station compressors are not always accurate. Use your own tire pressure gauge to check the pressure again.
- If you don't have enough time at the gas station to get all the tires to the exact pressure, you can choose to put roughly too much air in the tires and adjust that later by letting air escape with your tire pressure gauge.