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Advantages of Correct Tire Inflation Maintaining correct tire inflation pressure helps optimize tire performance and fuel economy. Correct tire inflation pressure allows drivers to experience tire comfort, durability and performance designed to match the needs of their vehicles. Tire deflection (the tread and sidewall flexing where the tread comes into contact with the road) will remain as originally designed and excessive sidewall flexing and tread squirm will be avoided. Heat buildup will be managed and rolling resistance will be appropriate. Proper tire inflation pressure also stabilizes the tire's structure, blending the tire's responsiveness, traction and handling.
Disadvantages of Underinflation
An underinflated tire can't maintain its shape and becomes flatter than intended while in contact with the road. If a vehicle’s tires are underinflated by only 6 psi it could lead to tire failure. Additionally, the tire’s tread life could be reduced by as much as 25%. Lower inflation pressure will allow the tire to deflect (bend) more as it rolls. This will build up internal heat, increase rolling resistance and cause a reduction in fuel economy of up to 5%. You would experience a significant loss of steering precision and cornering stability. While 6 psi doesn’t seem excessively low, remember, it usually represents about 20% of the tire’s recommended pressure.
Disadvantages of Overinflation
An overinflated tire is stiff and unyielding and the size of its footprint in contact with the road is reduced. If a vehicle's tires are overinflated by 6 psi, they could be damaged more easily when running over potholes or debris in the road. Higher inflated tires cannot isolate road irregularities well, causing them to ride harsher. However, higher inflation pressures usually provide an improvement in steering response and cornering stability up to a point. The pressure must be checked with a quality air gauge as the inflation pressure cannot be accurately estimated through visual inspection.
Air Pressure, Temperature Fluctuations
Your tires support the weight of your vehicle, right? Well they don't! It's the air pressure inside them that actually supports the weight. Maintaining sufficient air pressure is required if your tires are to provide all of the handling, traction and durability of which they are capable. However, you can't set tire pressure...and then forget about it! Tire pressure has to be checked periodically to assure that the influences of time, changes in ambient temperatures or a small tread puncture have not caused it to change. The tire pressure recommended in your vehicle's owner's manual or tire information placard is the vehicle's recommended cold tire inflation pressure. This means that it should be checked in the morning before you drive more than a few miles, or before rising ambient temperatures or the sun's radiant heat affects it.
See Next: When Should I Replace My Tires?
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