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Checking Tyre Pressure

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 30 Sep 2014 | comments*Discuss
 
Tyre Pressure Punctures Tyre Damage

Most people know that it's important to regularly check their tyres for damage and punctures but how many know that they should be checking the tyre pressure too?

Why is Having the Correct Tyre Pressure Important?
Having the right tyre pressure can add ages onto the length of time that your tyres are operational for. Not only that, but it also improves the overall safety of your vehicle and helps you use less fuel, so is good for both the environment and your bank balance!

If you drive on tyres that are under inflated, they are prone to overheating. If they are over inflated they can cause you real problems steering and driving your car properly on the road, which could lead to an increased chance of a collision. It’s reported that around 6% of fatal accidents on the UKs roads are caused by under-inflated tyres suddenly failing, and it is such a problem that you could be fined £2,500 per tyre if they are over or under-inflated enough to be considered un-roadworthy.

So apart from the legal and safety aspects, there’s also a good financial case for checking your tyre pressure. Over and under inflated tyres are more likely to be damaged than those that are inflated to the correct pressure. Either extreme can also lead to excess tyre wear: under-inflated tyres will wear down quicker along the walls of the tyre, whereas over-inflated tyres will cause wear around the centre of the tyre. This is likely to lead to early replacements and cost you more money.

That’s not all though - driving with the wrong tyre pressure can also make your petrol bill higher! This is because under-inflated tyres increase rolling resistance and your car needs to use more fuel to maintain the same speed as when your tyres have the correct pressure.So to sum it all up, you can save money, stay on the right side of the law, remain safe, and even reduce your ‘carbon footprint’ just by making sure you have the correct tyre pressure. By having your tyres inflated properly you will, use less fuel and that means there's a good chance that your vehicle will produce less Co2 emissions!

What is Meant By ‘Tyre Pressure’?
The pressure of your tyres is measured by working out the amount of air that's been pumped into the inside lining of your tyres in BAR pressure or PSI (pounds force).

As with anything concerning the condition of the vehicle you are driving on the road, the onus is on you as the driver to make sure that the tyre pressure is correct, and is checked regularly - at least once a month, preferably once a week or whenever you think there might be a problem with your tyres.

During the summer, it's likely that your tyres will lose more pressure, so the hotter it is, the more often you need to check them. Usually air escapes at around 2lb of air per month, although because it happens so slowly you might not even be aware that it's happening.

How Do I Inflate My Tyres to The Correct Pressure?
Find the owner's manual and that should tell you everything you need to know. The information might also be marked on the inside of the car (check the pillar of the driver's door, the fuse box, or on the inside of the petrol flap). If not, you can always ask at a garage or do a search on the Internet, making sure that you are using a reputable site. In most cases, two different pressures are given - one is for driving with a laden vehicle (with several people or heavy items on board) and the other is for 'normal' driving conditions.

To check the current pressure, you will need a gauge. You can either buy one from a car accessory supplier (such as Halfords) or take the more convenient option - go and find a digital air dispenser - most supermarket garages and petrol stations will have one.

  • Once you know what your tyre pressure should be, set the appropriate PSI/BAR pressure on the machine (there should be instructions on how to do this on the machine and it is usually very easy to do).
  • Attach the air hose to the tube on your tyre - you should be able to see the tube near the outer rim of the wheel. Remove dirt caps if applicable.
  • The machine will now inflate your tyre, stopping when it reaches the pressure you have selected. Some machines will beep, others will just stop inflating.
  • Repeat until all 4 tyres are correctly inflated.
  • Drive off safely and make a note to check your tyre pressure as part of your weekly vehicle checks.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
@nicky. You should be fine. Most cars and vans have the type of valves that work with service station air pumps.
brockenhurst - 30-Sep-14 @ 9:47 AM
Do all air machines for tyre valves fit every typeand size of tyre valve, in other words do all vehicles have standard size valves so I can use any air machine at any garage for my Volkswagen Transporter mobility vehicle?
Nicky - 27-Sep-14 @ 3:48 PM
Can you help? we have a folding caravan max load of 750kg the tyres are 165*70*13(79t)t2 I can not see it on the the tyre as I am in a wheel chair can`t get Lowe enough. i hope the info is enough. Thank you Barry
pugw - 12-Jun-13 @ 1:21 PM
Should tyre pressures be checked when they are cold or warm. I read somewhere that, if cold, the correct tyre presure reading should be reduced by 2 psi, then the tyres will 'warm up' to the correct pressures.
barney - 6-Sep-11 @ 4:18 PM
AA provided material (pre-practical test) suggests that tyre pressure should be checked when tyres are cold. Also a good place (although only if you intend to keep your car for a while) for any car details that would be in the handbook and more is usually in a Hayne's manual, great little books that tell you about the model of the car and how to do basic maintenance.
Rae - 6-Jun-11 @ 2:00 PM
Can you give some examples of reputable websites that give you the recommended tyre pressures? The second-hand car I bought was without owner's manual, there is no tyre pressure guide stuck on the pillar or anywhere else in the car, and the Kwik Fit website can only tell you the recommended tyre pressures if you tell it your registration number - but when I type it in, it fails to find my car.
klint - 17-Apr-11 @ 8:55 PM
Hello, I can't see any mention of when's best to check the pressure. I always believed they should be done prior to a drive & not after ? Now I've read an article in the local newspaper saying "check when warm as cold tyres give a false reading" Don't particularly agree with that - what does anyone else think ? Mark, Stourbridge, West Midlands.
mr53msp - 28-Mar-11 @ 11:29 AM
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