When was the last time you checked your tires’ air pressure?
If you don’t remember it, there’s a good chance you’re putting extra strain on your tires, affecting fuel efficiency, and risking your safety.
How can you ensure proper tire pressure for your car, and how to put air in tires if required?
We’ll guide you through the process step-by-step and address some basic tires-related queries.
This Article Contains:
- How to Put Air in Tires?
- How Often Should You Check Your Tires’ Air Pressure?
- Why Is It Important to Have the Correct Tire Pressure?
- 3 FAQs About Tires
Let’s get going!
How to Put Air in Tires?
Before starting the tire inflation exercise, ensure you have the necessary tools — an air pressure gauge (pencil-type or dial-type) and an air compressor.
Here are the steps you need to follow next. We’ll break them into two parts:
A. Checking Your Tire’s Pressure
Find out if your tire needs air, first:
- Determine your car’s recommended tire pressure. You can find it on the driver’s side door jamb sticker or in the owner’s manual. The ideal tire pressure for most cars is around 30-35 PSI. For some, the recommended pressure in front and rear tires may differ.
Note: Don’t mistake the pressure value printed on a tire’s sidewall as the recommended pressure. It’s the maximum cold pressure your car tire can withstand.
- Take off the tire’s valve cap and keep it in a safe place.
- Press the open end of the tire pressure gauge firmly against the valve stem for a few seconds to let the instrument read the pressure. Repeat this process for all tires of your vehicle. Check the spare tire pressure as well.
Important: You should check the tires’ inflation pressure when they are “cold.” This is after parking your car for three hours or longer or driving it for less than a mile at a moderate speed.
A tire gauge pressure reading under other conditions will be incorrect as tires heat up while driving, increasing the inside temperature and pressure. Remember this, especially while driving to a gas station for air or using the free air service on a highway pit stop.
Now, let’s get back to our pressure gauge!
B. Adding Air to Your Tire
For a reading below the recommended tire pressure, you’ll need to add some air to the underinflated tire. You can do it using an air compressor or a portable air pump that you can plug into your car’s 12V socket.
If you don’t have these, go to your nearest gas station with a coin-operated air pump facility. Some gas stations also provide free air service.
- Park your car close enough to the pump so that the air compressor hose can reach all underinflated tires.
- Put the required number of coins into the machine’s slot, and the pump should start. Remember that it’ll be operational for a limited time, and you’ll have to pay again for more air.
Here’s how you add air:
- Press the end of the air dispenser against the tire’s valve stem. You’ll hear a hissing sound as air enters the tire. The time taken to fill the underinflated tire can range from 10 seconds to a few minutes, depending on how much air it had initially.
- Remove the air hose from the tire valve if you’ve added enough air, and take a reading using the tire pressure gauge. Some gas stations may have an air hose with a built-in pressure gauge but always double-check using your instrument to be safe.
- Repeat this process until you’ve achieved the ideal tire pressure. Follow it for other tires with low tire pressure.
Note: In the case of an emergency, you can use a bike tire pump if its air dispenser is compatible with a Schrader valve (a car tire generally uses a Schrader valve, whereas a bike tire may have a Presta valve). This approach, however, will understandably take a lot of time and effort!
- If the tire gauge pressure was too high or you overinflated tires while putting air in them, release the extra pressure using the valve. Press the pin at the center of the valve stem in short bursts using a suitable tool (like a blunt-head screwdriver). You’ll hear the hissing sound of the air jet coming from the tire valve.
- Measure the pressure using the pressure gauge after releasing some air to avoid deflating the tire too much.
- Put back the valve cap on each tire.
Now that you know the tire inflation process, let’s see how frequently you should check the tire pressure.
How Often Should You Check Your Tires’ Air Pressure?
Car maintenance and medical health checkups are alike; the more you delay them, the lesser they help. Maintaining proper pressure isn’t difficult; you just need to remain consistent.
- Check the air pressure at least once a month and every time before going for a long drive.
- Check the air pressure more frequently during winters — every two weeks as tire pressure reduces approximately by 1 PSI for a 10⁰C drop in temperature.
Most modern cars also have a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) that alerts drivers about low tire pressure through a dashboard warning light. However, you should still do a routine manual inspection to maintain proper tire pressure.
Next, we’ll cover how the correct pressure helps you drive smoothly and safely.
Why Is It Important to Have the Correct Tire Pressure?
Both low and high tire gauge pressures are detrimental to the tires’ health and overall driving experience.
A. Underinflated Tires
- Lead to low gas mileage and increased tire wear.
- Generate more friction and heat, increasing the chances of a blowout.
B. Overinflated Tires
- Result in poor handling and can get dangerous at high speeds or sharp turns.
- Make the ride bouncy and uncomfortable.
Let’s address some questions about tires to help you make better car maintenance-related decisions.
3 FAQs About Tires
Here are answers to a few basic questions regarding car tire maintenance:
1. Should You Fill Your Car’s Tires with Nitrogen?
There are no clear benefits of filling nitrogen in your car’s tires against regular air. You may have heard claims of improved fuel efficiency, but there’s not enough proof. Nitrogen also costs you more than air.
However, tires filled with pure nitrogen could ensure lesser pressure loss with time than those filled with regular air. But the gas available for automobile use generally has lower purity.
That said, you should still routinely check the tire pressure.
2. How Long Do Tires Last?
New tires generally last 3-5 years or 50,000-75,000 miles, but you should get a tread depth inspection done by an auto repair shop every 3000 miles. Replace tires with a tread depth of 2/32 inches or lower. Check if you have a tire warranty covering the mileage or tread depth.
Nevertheless, you should replace tires that are over 10 years old, even in case of low usage.
3. How Can You Extend the Life of Your Vehicle’s Tires?
You can extend tire life by:
- Maintaining the right inflation pressure: Don’t wait for the Tire Pressure Monitoring System light to come. Check the pressure regularly.
- Tire rotation: Tire rotation means routinely changing the position of the car’s tires, e.g., by swapping the front and rear tires or right side tires with left side tires. This ensures uniform tire wear.
- Wheel balancing and alignment: Wheel balancing corrects the uneven weight distribution on your car’s wheels. A wheel alignment adjusts the wheel angles to ensure your car moves in a straight line without going right or left.
These practices are also generally required under the tire warranty terms and conditions.
Having the correct pressure in your car’s tires safeguards their longevity and provides you with a better driving experience. Make sure that you don’t overlook this easy maintenance exercise and carry it out routinely.
If you want professional advice about your tires or need a tire rotation service, get in touch with RepairSmith.
We are a mobile auto repair company that can cater to your automotive needs right in your driveway. You also get a hassle-free booking, competitive prices, and a 12-month or 12,000 miles warranty on the tire service.
Contact us to schedule an appointment with our expert mechanics and put your tire-related worries to rest!