The holiday season is in full swing which can mean a busy schedule of activities, parties and get-togethers with friends and loved ones. The overwhelming number of events and commitments usually means more travel by car, often in adverse weather conditions. So while we may have less time on our hands, this is no time to forget about routine maintenance on our trusted vehicles. Tire pressure checks are simple preventive maintenance that can help ensure your safe commute and travels.
It only takes a few minutes to do tire pressure checks, and anyone can do it using a standard air pressure gauge. Tire pressure checks can be the difference between you arriving safely, or being stranded on the side of a busy highway, potentially missing out on valued time with family and friends.
What You Need for Tire Pressure Checks
Tire pressure checks can be done either at a local service station or in your driveway or garage with a standard air pressure gauge like the one shown. Digital gauges are equally accurate and easy to use. According to dmv.org, the most accurate readings are done when tires are cold and haven’t been driven in a few hours.
You will also need to know the recommended air pressure for your specific vehicle and tire. This can be found on the placard on the inside of the driver’s side door post on most vehicles. Alternatively, you can find it in the vehicle owner’s manual.
Step-by-step Instructions to do Tire Pressure Checks:
- Remove the cap from the valve stem. The valve stem is on the inside of the wheel itself, and the plastic cap can be twisted off by hand.
- Insert the tire pressure gauge into the valve stem. Press down firmly to stop air escaping.
- Check the reading on the gauge once you have a firm seal. Look for the scale in PSI, which stands for pounds per square inch.
- Compare the reading on the gauge to the recommended PSI on the vehicle placard.
- If the reading is above the recommendation, air needs to be released from the tire. Do this by lightly pushing in the center of the valve stem for a few seconds. Most gauges have a pin that allows you to depress the center stem. This allows air to escape and bring the PSI closer to the recommendation. You can bleed air out in 2 or 3 second increments, using the gauge each time to measure against the target PSI.
- If the tire pressure is below the recommendation, you will need to add air. If you are doing this at home, and do not have an air compressor, this is easily done at your nearest service station. Most tire stores will be happy to double check your tire pressure, and add air as needed at no charge.
- Replace the valve caps after you have adjusted the tire pressure. They protect the valve stem from dirt and road grime that can cause leaks.
While you are doing the tire pressure checks, it is a good idea to take a few extra seconds to also visually inspect each tire for excessive tread wear, foreign objects stuck in the tire tread, deep cuts or large bumps on the side of the tire. Any of these conditions could mean your tires need to be replaced soon.
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