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Tire Pressure in Winter Conditions: What You Need to Know

Winter Tire Pressure (PSI)

Most drivers would imagine a leak is the major cause of a loss in tire pressure / under inflated tire but there’s another contributor – something far more subtle than small punctures or faulty pressure gauges; the weather!

When the temperature drops, air contracts and as the molecules get closer together, the reduction in volume causes tires to lose their pressure. Before you know it, your tires are underinflated. Now, you can’t control the weather but you can do something about those tires…

From oil changes to sparkplug replacements, most vehicle owners understand that regular maintenance is necessary to keep their vehicle roadworthy. Strangely though, tire maintenance is often viewed as lower priority (even for the most responsible drivers) leaving something as important as tire pressure all but forgotten.

Why? Well, our out of sight out of mind mentality is definitely part of the problem. After all, a tire can be as much as 50% underinflated before it’s even visibly noticeable. But that doesn’t mean they deserve any less attention. Here’s why:

Safety

Underinflated tires greatly increase braking distances and can dramatically affect steering and handling. Additionally, under inflation can cause irregular wear, meaning your tires will wear out a lot quicker and cost you more money in the end. In a worst case scenario underinflated tires can overheat, which sometimes causes blowouts, so be sure to check those tires regularly!

Savings

Vehicles with underinflated tires get poorer gas mileage than vehicles with properly inflated tires. Underinflated tires put more tire surface in contact with the road, causing more rolling resistance and friction with the road. The result is poor gas mileage and higher fuel costs – up to 1.3 cents per litre! Depending on how often you fill up, that can lead to hundreds of dollars over the space of a single year.

Check your tire pressure regularly during the winter months. Most new vehicles come equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) but if you drive an older model vehicle, you’ll need to take it upon yourself to remain vigilant. As the temperature drops from day to day you may find that tires that were fine yesterday are underinflated the next day. Keep that in mind if your TPMS warning light flashes on an especially cold morning.

To achieve proper tire pressure, use the inflation pressure guide recommended by the manufacturer. You’ll usually find this information in your owner’s manual, on your vehicle’s doorjamb, or on the inside of the glovebox door.

Here’s how to check your tire pressure with a manual gauge:

  1. Remove the cap from the tire valve.
  2. Check that that gauge’s measurement stick is completely inside the tire gauge.
  3. Quickly and firmly place the open end of the gauge over the tire valve stem.
  4. Once the measurement stick shoots out, read the number on the far right of the stick, which is your tire pressure in PSI (pounds per square inch).
  5. Repeat this procedure two or three times to ensure an accurate reading.
  6. Repeat this process for all 4 of your tires and your spare tire

You can also bring your vehicle to a Kal Tire store and we will check your tire pressure for free! For more tire maintenance tips, visit the tire maintenance page on our website. #TalkToKal

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