1. Buy a tire pressure gauge. Don’t rely on the gauges attached to gas station air pumps. “Gas station inflation systems take a good deal of abuse, which can affect the accuracy,” says Zielinski.
Small, portable gauges are sold at auto parts stores and many general-merchandise retailers. They and cost anywhere from $5 to $50, but a good one can be had for under $15, according to Consumer Reports.
2. Let your tires cool down. Wait until your vehicle has been sitting still for at least three hours. Your tires have to be “cold” in order for you to get an accurate reading. If a tire has been recently driven, the air inside will have warmed up and expanded, temporarily increasing the pressure.
3. Get the numbers. Look for your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure in the owner’s manual. You can also find it on the driver-side door, glove compartment or trunk lid. The number will be next to “psi.” (It will also be listed metrically as “kPa, or kilopascals, for drivers who use the metric system.)
Don’t use the “psi” number listed on the tire’s sidewall. That’s the maximum — not the recommended — pressure, according to Zielinski. You want to avoid overinflating your tires. “Overinflated tires have a smaller contact patch with the road, which affects handling,” he says. “They also will wear out the center of the tread faster and will be more susceptible to road hazard damage.”
4. Check the pressure. On each tire, including the spare, unscrew the valve cap from the stem, located on the side of the tire. Fit the tire gauge into the stem. If you hear a hissing sound, which is air escaping, adjust the fit until it stops. Then read the pressure number on the gauge.
5. Adjust the pressure. If the number on the gauge is lower than recommended, drive to a nearby service station and add enough air to bring it up to the recommended number — but no higher. Don’t try to compensate for warm tires by overinflating, which creates a safety hazard. Instead, perform a second check later, after the tires are cold again. Then return to add more air if needed.
If the number on the gauge is too high, just press the valve stem gently — you can use the side of the gauge for this — to let some air out.
Reno Tahoe Auto Group
3355 Kietzke Ln.
Reno, NV 89502
Reno Tahoe Auto Group