How to Check and Inflate Tires Correctly

While it may appear to be a simple task, inflating tires is much more important to your automobile than you may realize, and it results in a safer and more economical driving experience. Proper tire inflation can dramatically increase your vehicle’s fuel economy. Your vehicle’s handling will also be substantially improved because the greater the inflated footprint of a tire, the more responsive and comfortable the ride balance will be.

Before We Start

Look for a sticker on the driver’s side doorjamb to find out how much air should be in your tires. It shows the vehicle’s weight limit and information about the tires, such as the recommended tire pressure. The information is also in the part of your car’s owner’s manual that talks about maintenance and care.

Don’t look at the markings on the sidewalls of your tires. They tell you the maximum tire pressure, not the pressure your car needs.

If your tire isn’t obviously flat, you can’t tell how inflated it is by looking at it. You need a tire pressure gauge to get the correct PSI reading. Tire pressure gauges can be digital, have an internal slide, or have a dial. A basic gauge costs $5, while one that is digital, has a button to let air out, or even talks costs more than $30. All of them will work, but you might want to think about how you’ll be using your gauge. “We’ve found that low-cost digital pressure gauges are very accurate and stay accurate longer,” said John Rastetter, the director of tire information services at Tire Rack. “However, if it’s very cold outside, the gauge may not work right.”

How to Check Your Tire Pressure and Fill Your Tires with Air

For the most accurate reading, tire makers say to check tires when they are cold. The outside temperature can change tire pressure by up to 1 psi for every 10 degrees. When the temperature is high, the psi reading will be high. ” Tires are black, and black does what? Rastetter said, “Attract heat.” He also said that it was important to find a cool place to check and fill all four tires.

Rastetter said that temperature has a big effect on tire psi. He also said that fall and winter are the most important times to check tire pressure because the days are shorter and the average temperature drops.

Check your tires in the morning before you go anywhere, because the psi will go up as soon as you drive for a long time. Rastetter said that if you’ve been driving for a long time and notice that your tires have more psi, you shouldn’t let the air out. The extra pressure has built up because your tires are warm and always moving.

How to Go About It

Pull your car onto a flat, shaded area.
Take off the dust caps from the valve stems of the tires.
Using your tire gauge, press the tip of the gauge straight onto the valve stem of the tire for a few seconds.
The tire gauge should give you a reading in pounds per square inch (psi). If the number seems too low or too high, like 85 psi or 1 psi, you will need to go back to the last step and make sure the tip of the tire gauge is making good contact with the valve stem.
If the reading on the tire gauge is higher than what the manufacturer suggests, press the tip of the gauge on the valve stem until you hear air escaping. Again, check the tire pressure.
If the number is lower than what is suggested, you will need to add air to the tire. If you don’t have an air compressor at home, you’ll have to take your car somewhere that does. Most gas stations have one, but not all of them do. Don’t drive with a flat tire because it’s dangerous and can hurt the wheel.
To fill the tire, press the end of the air hose firmly onto the stem of the valve. You will hear air entering the tire quietly. If you hear air leaking or spraying out, make sure the connection between the air hose and the valve stem of the tire is tight.
Check the pressure a few times with the gauge when you think you’ve added or taken out enough air.
Change the dust caps on the valves.


Rastetter stressed how important it is to keep dust caps on when driving in the winter. If water gets into the valve stem and freezes inside the tire, it could cause a flat.

While you’re at it, check your spare tire’s pressure. You don’t want to have a flat tire and find out that the tire you bought to replace it is also flat.

Include these steps in your daily routine. It will be good for both your car and your pocketbook. Watch the video below to find out more.

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