Checking Your Tire Pressure
by Lee Wyatt
(last updated February 17, 2012)
Have you ever noticed that no one really pays all that much attention to their tires until there is some kind of a problem? Even those rare few that do periodically check their tire pressure are usually doing it wrong. Surprisingly checking your tire pressure isn't all that difficult to accomplish, and if done correctly can help prevent many potential problems. Here is the simplest, and most effective, method for checking your tire pressure.
- Determine the correct pressure. Before you can actually begin checking your tire pressure, you need to know what the appropriate pressure is. There are a couple of different ways that you can do this. The first is by looking at the owner's manual, and going with what it says there. However, if you have lost the owner's manual all you need to do is look at the driver's door. On the inside edge of the driver's door is a sticker that will have the proper information.
- Use the proper tools. In order to check the tire pressure, you will need to make sure that you have the proper tools. In this case you will need to use a tire pressure gauge. Ideally you should get one from a trusted source (such as your local auto parts store), otherwise you could get an inaccurate reading. Always use a trusted gauge to prevent any problems.
- Check only cool tires. While you can always check the tire pressure at any time, for the most accurate reading you want to check tires that haven't been driven for a while. Typically you will want to wait for a minimum of three hours after driving before you actually check the tires.
- Apply the pressure gauge. Locate the valve stem on the tire you want to check, and remove the cover on it. Apply the pressure gauge to the valve stem until you see the gauge pop out and hear the sound of escaping air. Hold the pressure gauge to the valve stem until the gauge stops moving, and look at the reading.
- Compare readings. Make sure that you remember what the reading is in case you happen to move the gauge unintentionally. Compare the reading that you got from the tire with the manufacturer's recommendation.
- Refill as necessary. If the two readings are not similar, or within the appropriate parameters, then take the appropriate measures to fix the problem. For an overfilled tire, all you need to do is release some of the air until it arrives at the appropriate place. For a tire that is too low, replace the missing air until you have arrived at the appropriate pressure.
- Put everything away. Once you have finished removing or refilling the air pressure as necessary, begin putting everything away. This simply means that you need to put the valve stem cover on, and put your tire gauge into your glove box.
- Inspect tires. Since you are already looking at your tires, take the opportunity to inspect them for any other problems. Take a look at the tire tread for any indication of uneven wear, or if the tread has gotten too thin. Also keep an eye out for any nails, cuts, or other type of damage to the tires, and if you find any then have the afflicted tire replaced as soon as possible.