Having the correct tyre pressure in your vehicle is one of the easiest and most important things you can do for your car. The economic and safety benefits are huge!
For example when you have the correct tyre pressure your tyres wear longer, you save fuel because your car is rolling more efficiently, your vehicles handling is enhanced and this may even prevent accidents. The effects of not maintaining correct air pressure are the opposite. You will experience poor fuel efficiency, reduced of tyre life, poor handling (to the point where you might even lose control), and the potential for vehicle overloading.
Our tyres are the only part of our vehicles that are in constant contact with the road. Considering how important they are to the safe and efficient handling of our cars many of us tend to overlook the most important task – checking our tyre pressures. Our vehicles tyres do lose pressure, slowly but surely everyday, through the process called permeation.
Generally, a tyre will lose up to one or two kilopascals (a unit for measuring air pressure) per month in cool weather and even more in warmer weather. Everyday flexing and bumps (like potholes) can also contribute to a reduction in air pressure. So how often should you replace the air in your tyres? A good rule of thumb is to check and adjust your tyre pressures once for every 2 – 3 times you fill your vehicles fuel tank – and don't forget about your spare! It's a quick check that will really save you in the long run.
The correct air pressure for your vehicle may be found in the vehicle owner's manual or on the tyre information plate often found attached to your vehicles door edge, doorpost, glove box door or fuel filler door. This information should be used to determine the correct tyre pressure rather than the information printed on the tyre itself. It the maximum pressure of the tyre is lower then what your vehicle manufactures hand book states seek advice professional like one of NRMA MotorServe technicians immediately.
Some environmental factors can greatly affect your cars tyre pressure and will require you to visit the local service station. As the weather heats up or cools down with the change of season you should take the opportunity to adjust your pressures. A rise or drop in temperature as little as 10 degrees Celsius can change the pressure in your tires by approximately 7 kilopascals.
Sometimes a small nail, screw or other object will puncture a tyre and then act as an inefficient plug. Air pressure drops slowly over a matter of hours or days and may be difficult to detect. Some warning signs to look out for include; pulling or vibration that seems unnatural, a rhythmic ticking sound (as the object strikes the road with each rotation) the sound is usually easier to hear at slower speeds like in a parking lot.
If you suspect you have a slow leak pull the vehicle over in a safe position and inspect your tyres for any visible damage or if the tyre looks low. Another indication of a slow leak might be an excessively hot tyre. Change the damaged tyre with your spare tyre and visit your local NRMA MotorServe. We can let you know if the tyre is suitable for repaired, if there is sidewall damage (a powdery residue inside the tyre indicates this condition) the tyre will need to be replaced.
Properly checking tyre pressure requires an accurate air gauge, this doesn't mean the air gauges at service stations. Unfortunately these are usually inaccurate due to the exposure and abuse the cop everyday. It's best to invest in a good quality air gauge.
When checking your vehicle's tyre pressure, make sure the tyres are "cold". Cold air pressure means that the vehicle has not yet been driven one kilometre (remember that driving on a tyre increases its temperature and air pressure and may leave your tyres under inflated when the temperature cools). If you must drive more than one kilometre for air, check and record the air pressure in all your tyres before you leave. Once at the service station, measure each tyre's pressure again and record the difference. Inflate any tyres that are low to a level that is equal to the recommended cold pressure plus the difference of the second measurement at the higher temperature.
Finally, after completing the pressure check, make sure you replace your valve caps to keep out dirt moisture.