23 February 2017
Why do you need to worry about tyre pressures?
Cars tend to look after themselves these days and require less tinkering than a few years ago. They have warning lights to tell you when something is wrong. You take your car to a garage and they sort it out for you, without you even lifting the bonnet.
While cars have got more intelligent, tyres still need regular attention. The tread depth and the pressure of each of tyre should be checked approximately every 3 weeks. If tyres are inflated under, or over, the recommended pressure it can affect the performance and handling of the car and life of the tyre.
A tyre inflated to the recommended pressure has maximum contact with the road surface to giving optimum performance and means that the tyres will last longer.
Manufacturers have recommendations for the tyre pressures of each of the cars that they produce. The recommended pressures can usually be found in the car's handbook and sometimes printed inside the petrol cap.
A tyre inflated to the corect pressure will show even tyre wear across the tread. As shown in the image below:
Tyres naturally lose a little pressure over time, so it is important to ensure that the pressure hasn’t dropped. If the pressure has dropped it is important to top it up. Most petrol stations have the facility to check and top up tyre pressures. Alternatively, pop down to Motorcare in Bedford or Leighton Buzzard and we will happily check them for you and show you how to do it in the future.
If a car is run on under-inflated tyres it will increase the chances of a blowout, this is due to the way that tyres are constructed. When a tyre is under-inflated, there is more pressure on the outside edges of the tread, which creates heat within the tyre, therefore increasing risk of a blow out at high speeds. This is especially true when traveling on the motorway. In addition, underinflated tyres have a less than optimal contact with the road surface. This means that there is less grip in the wet, meaning that breaking distances are increased and fuel economy is reduced. Hitting you in the pocket.
A tyre that is run below the recommended pressure can reduce the lifespan of the tyre by up to 50%. Checking regularly could save you money and help to prevent an accident.
You can identify a tyre that has been run under-inflated by inspecting the tread, an under inflated tyre will have excessive wear towards the edge of the tread. As shown in the image below:
You may think that over-inflating your tyres isn’t as much of a problem as underinflation. Well, that is simply not the case. Over-inflation of tyres can cause similar, and worse, problems than under-inflation. Over-inflation causes tyres to bulge in the centre of the tread. The bulge in the tyre ensures that there is a less than optimal contact with the surface of the road. This has a similar effect to under-inflation, causing poorer handling and reduced breaking distances. In addition, over-inflation causes a harder ride as the tyres have less of a cushioning effect. This makes bumps in the road harsher and makes driving less comfortable and means that other parts of the car, including the suspension, are put under more strain. Additional strain means excessive wear and tear, again costing you more in the long run.
A tyre's lifespan can reduced by as much as half if it is consistently run over-inflated. The reduction is lifespan is due to the less of the tread being in contact with the road surface. A tyre that has been run over-inflated can be identified by excess wear in the middle of the tread. As shown in the image below:
Motorcare are here to help you if you get into problems, but we are also here to help you to look after your car and prevent those problems in the long run. If you are not sure about anything that you have read here, you can pop into one of our branches and we can show you what pressure your tyres should be and how to top them up for free.