Proper vehicle maintenance entails taking extra care of your car and the tires for overall vehicle performance. Proper tire inflation affects the fuel efficiency longevity of your tires, better steering response, and promotes a smooth drive. Imagine the frustrating feeling of riding on flat tires. To prevent this, you should check your tire pressure regularly.
You should know how to use a tire gauge. Otherwise, you may deal with under-inflated tires or over-inflated tires, which can result in early premature wear and tire failure.
So let’s explore and help you know how to use a tire pressure gauge effectively.
Before You Get Started
Tire gauges can either be standard or digital and if you don’t own one, you can always drive to a gas station and use their air compressor. But if you prefer buying, you can check online or purchase from a tire store. You will find various types of gauges, so it’s good to do your research or see help from a tire professional to know the best model per your affordability.
How to Check the Tire Pressure
Below is a simple guide that you can use to check your car’s pressure.
Step 1: Start on Cold Tires.
For accurate readings, it’s best to use cold tires. You can do this in the morning or on vehicles parked for at least three hours. If you have moderately driven your car for less than a mile, your tires are also considered cold. Tire manufacturers use cold tires to specify psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure. Tire gauges indicate readings in psi.
Step 2: Check the Manufacturer’s Recommended PSI
Don’t be in a rush to use the tire gauge before you know the recommended psi. You can check the information from the manual or locate a sticker on the driver’s side door. The number indicated is followed by psi, e.g., 35 psi. Some vehicles’ front and rear tires’ psi may differ, and it’s best to get it right before using the gauge. You can note down the different psi to prevent confusion. If you’re still not locating the psi number, you may contact a tire pro or your car dealer.
Step 3: Locate the tire valve, then remove the cap
Every tire contains a valve designed to inflate or deflate it based on the proposed psi and the actual tire pressure. A tire valve is a tiny, black tube roughly an inch long with a screwed cap. You may find it inside the rubber wheel, projecting through a slot in the hubcap. Once you locate this valve, remove the screwed cap, allowing the tire pressure gauge to fit over the surface of the valve. It’s easier to misplace the tiny tire valve so keep it in a safe place that you can track.
Step 4: Press the Gauge Onto the Tire Valve
Once you remove the threaded cap, press the gauge down to the tire valve. Every tire valve has a spring-loaded valve core which locks itself using air pressure inside the tire. So the moment you press the gauge against the valve core, which uses the tire’s internal pressure to lock itself, it simultaneously measures its psi rating.
Step 5: Check the Tire Pressure Reading
Take the valve cover off one of your tires. Then, insert the gauge onto the valve stem. Finally, press it down firmly enough to eliminate the hissing sound and obtain the reading.
Read the sliding ruler on manual pen gauges or the dial-on-dial pressure gauges to check the gauge readouts. The readouts should be on the digital screen if you’re using a digital gauge. The current tire pressure will display in PSI on the ruler, dial, or screen. Then, repeat the process for the other remaining tires.
Step 6: Fill the Tires to Recommended PSI
Note down the current pressure of each tire, or you can memorize it. This will save you time checking again if you forget the reading. If the pressure in each tire is too high, you may drain some air by placing the tire gauge at an angle against the tire valve. You will hear the hissing sound of escaping air. But ensure you don’t draw too much pressure.
If the tire pressure is too low, you need to connect an air compressor with the valve to inflate the tire. After inflating the tire, use the tire gauge to confirm the PSI and ensure it is at the right level per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Note that it’s best to check the tire pressure once per month to prevent tire damage and maintain a smooth ride.
Accuracy of Tire Pressure Gauge
Remember that accuracy is important while selecting a gauge. And nothing beats quality, which will help give accurate readings. Unfortunately, you may have to part away with a few dollars to get the best gauge. If you’re uncertain about the right gauge to buy, ask a tire pro to recommend the appropriate one.
A digital tire pressure gauge provides reliable readings, but it needs a powered battery. If changing the battery feels like too much work for you, a standard gauge can be a great option.
Relying on the attached gas station gauges cannot be compared to owning one. In addition, some are not well maintained, which will give you an inaccurate reading.
Under-inflated tires are dangerous to you and other drivers on the road. It’s one of the leading causes of tire breakdown on the road, as it causes the tires to flex faster, producing heat and, eventually, a burst out. In addition, the weight of underinflated tires puts pressure on the contact patch’s outside edges and the corners of the tire. This produces uneven wear, which can lead to tire failure.
Continuous over-inflated tires might affect the life of your tires. Overinflated tires contribute to decreased grip and safety while on the road since the tire’s contact patch that touches the ground is diminished due to the tire’s tubular structure. As a result, it causes rapid wear in the core of the tread pattern.
The Best Tire Pressure Gauges
Below are some of the best gauges in the market that come with a warranty.
Astro Digital Tire pressure gauge
If your concern over accuracy matters, you should go for this digital model. The price range is reasonable, it gives an accurate reading and it has a blue backlit LCD. The gauge automatically shuts down on its own after 30 seconds.
Milton S-291 Passenger tire gauge
This is a gilded brass chuck head type of pencil tire gauge that effectively gets the job done. The tire manufacturer is produced in the US. The tip is at a favorable inclination for taking readings, but you may have to double-check the readings to get the complete pressure before getting used to the gauge.
Being a car owner requires you to go the extra mile to keep it in good shape. You should not overlook the monthly tire pressure maintenance as it’s the only way to ensure proper tire performance.
Overinflation and underinflation affect your tires by accelerating uneven tires and leading to tire failure. But the above step-by-step guide will help you appropriately check your vehicle tire’s pressure.