How Seasonal Changes Affect Tire Pressure

Did you know that the maintenance requirements of your vehicle are hugely affected by seasonal changes? Not just batteries and fluid levels, but also tire pressures constantly change with seasonal temperature changes.

So, if you have been noticing changes in your tire pressure with the changing weather, chances are it is happening and you are not imagining things!

Importance of Proper Tire Pressure

One of the most easily overlooked aspects with respect to vehicle care and maintenance is proper tire pressure or inflation. This typically happens because people are unaware of the serious consequences that can be caused by this oversight.

To start with, tire pressure has a direct impact on your vehicle’s load-bearing ability. If you look on the sidewall of your tires, you can find their maximum load-bearing capacity when they are on maximum pressure, labeled by the manufacturer. Now, what is important to understand is that this information represents the maximum limits of your tires, and not their optimal operating pressure and load-bearing capacity based on the weather.

Without a proper understanding of this information, people often tend to over or under inflate their tires, which leads to issues related to safety and finance.

Importance of Proper Tire Pressure

Safety Issues

Of course, the major issue pertinent to improper tire pressure to meet changing weather temperatures is safety. If your tires are under-inflated for the season, the tires will start to flex more, resulting in vehicle instability, increased tire temperature, poor control and handling of the vehicle, and eventually can lead to tire failure too.

Let’s say you’re trying to change your lane; when your tires are under-inflated, even this simple maneuver could cause your vehicle to swing sideways, thereby making you lose control, which in turn can result in an accident. What’s also pertinent to safety is treadwear – the life expectancy of a tire – which gets accelerated rapidly when your tires are improperly inflated.

Ride Quality

Tire pressure also affects the quality of your ride. As discussed earlier, underinflated tires cause you to lose control of your vehicle, whereas overinflated tires make your ride a lot more uncomfortable by amplifying even the smallest bump on the road.

Cost Savings

With proper tire pressure, you also get to enjoy significant cost savings. How? Well, over or under inflation of tires causes damage to them in different ways, thereby reducing their lifespan considerably. This in turn requires you to spend more money on new tires within a short span of time than you usually would if proper tire pressure is maintained.

Tire Pressure Affected by Seasonal Changes

Do seasonal temperature changes affect tire pressure? Yes, they do!

When air temperature fluctuates naturally with changing seasons, there will be changes in air volume too. Therefore, when the outside temperature is high, your tires (which contain air) will have more volume, and on the contrary, when the outside temperature is low and cold, the air volume in your tires will be less. This fluctuating tire pressure will impact the performance of your tires, resulting in all the concerns discussed earlier.

Cold Temperatures

Maintaining the manufacturer recommended PSI level of your tires is important to attain proper friction. During cold seasons, when the temperature drops, the PSI of your tires also drops by 1 or 2 for every 10 degree drop in temperature. Therefore, regardless of when you last adjusted your tire pressure, expect to see a drop in their PSI depending on the temperature drop in your region.

During such circumstances, your goal is to maintain the functionality of your tires without compromising on their longevity. Leaving your tires underinflated during freezing weather can make steering and controlling hard for you and also cause premature damage to your tires, and overinflating them can result in much rougher rides.

Hot Temperatures

What happens when the tire pressure you set to handle cold temperatures experiences increasing air temperatures when the season changes? Well, the tires begin to overinflate. Just like it is for cold temperatures, the PSI of your tires will increase by 1 for every 10 degree increase in temperature. As a result, your tires overinflate, and this can lead to poor traction and poor overall performance. And when the temperature is hot outside, the chances of your tires blowing out are high (if they’re not properly maintained, of course!).

Note: If the pressure of your tires has increased due to hot weather, DO NOT try to reduce the same. Instead, allow the tires to cool down, and this will automatically make the pressure drop.

Maintaining Proper Tire Pressure

TPMS is your friend! What is TPMS? Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Your car is most likely to be equipped with a TPMS, the job of which is to display a warning sign when the tire pressure goes below its recommended level.

If your car is old and doesn’t have a TPMS, you can check your tire pressure the old-school way – using a tire pressure gauge.

Maintaining Proper Tire Pressure

Best Practices

Fortunately, you can manage or even eliminate most tire pressure problems with proper planning and the right maintenance techniques. Here are a few pointers to remember:

  • Make it a practice to check the pressure of your tires regularly.
  • When it’s time, remember to replace your winter tires with all-weather or summer tires.
  • Even if your car is equipped with a TPMS, check your tires’ inflation levels regularly, like every two weeks. While your tires might look properly inflated from the outside, they could be underinflated without being visibly evident.
  • Even if you live in regions where winters are harsh and vehicles use studded tires, maintaining proper tire pressure is still important for maximum performance, and for your safety too.
  • Make it a habit to check and adjust tire pressure every time you visit the gas station to fill up with gas.

Checking and Adjusting Tire Pressure

As a general rule of thumb, you need to check your vehicle’s tire pressure every two weeks. Following are a few tips that can make checking and adjusting your tire pressure easier:

  • Before anything, you need to let your tires cool down and make sure they are cold. This step is important to ensure that your readings are accurate. Therefore, the most viable time to check your vehicle’s tire pressure would be first thing in the morning, as the vehicle wouldn’t have been used the whole night and the tires would be cold and in optimum temperature in the morning.
  • Always check your vehicle’s handbook to know the manufacturer recommended tire pressure, especially if you are not sure of the numbers.
  • Visit the local gas station to check and adjust the tire pressure. If you prefer doing it on your own, at home, make sure you use a quality tire pressure gauge and air compressor.
  • Check the tire pressure and adjust the same to match the numbers on the vehicle’s handbook.
    • Remove the end cap from the tire’s air valve. Place the gauge on top of the valve and press it firmly until no air escapes. You can now see the PSI reading of the tire on your gauge; compare the number with the manufacturer’s recommended number on the vehicle’s handbook
    • If the PSI reading is below the recommended value, use your air compressor to fill the tire until it reaches the recommended pressure level.

Your fleet’s tire pressure plays a pivotal role in giving you a safe and comfortable driving experience. To make sure your tires don’t get affected by seasonal changes, you can follow the simple yet effective task of regularly checking and adjusting the tire pressure.

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