What is the ideal tyre pressure you need in your vehicle, and how to work this out?
Quick question: When did you last check your car’s tyres? Do you know what brand and model they are? What is the recommended tyre pressure for your vehicle? Do you have an idea what condition your tyres are in now, and if you need to replace them?
Yes, we’re all guilty of neglecting our vehicles’ tyres and their most important component – the tyre pressure. It measures the amount of air in your tyres and is typically expressed in PSI (or pounds-per-square-inch) or kPa (o Kilopascal).
Why is it critical to maintain the ideal tyre pressure?
And we can’t stress enough how critical it is to monitor your car’s tyre pressure! Most of the time, it can be a chore, especially if you’re using manual tyre pressure monitors. However, it is necessary because tyre pressure affects safety, fuel economy, wear, and overall cost savings.
When you travel by motorcycle, car, SUV, truck, or caravan that is improperly inflated, it creates an imbalance in the performance. Using an over-inflated tyre affects handling, turning at speeds, braking, and overall vehicle performance, especially on wet, slippery roads. When a tyre has a higher pressure than it should h,s centre wears faster, and it has more blowouts.
In contrast, under-inflation exposes the sides of tyres and makes tyre rotations more laboured. Low tyre pressure compromises steering and may sometimes cause tyres to dislodge from the rim when cornering.
Both conditions cause premature tyre wear due to increased road friction. They force the engine to push harder, thus expending more fuel.
Therefore, the amount of money you will save on repairs, fuel, tyre replacement is worth the effort of taking your car to the local petrol station, purchasing an air pressure gauge, and installing a TPMS. Happy tyres lead to comfortable driving and happy wallets!
What car tyres do you have?
The first thing about the ideal tyre pressure is to know what kind of car tyres you have. For this, you need to check your car tyre’s sidewall. Here are the essential details regarding your car tyres: size, maximum load capacity, maximum tyre pressure.
It is essential to familiarise yourself with these details. You will need them to replace worn-out tyres, modify your vehicles, or inflate your tyres.
How to check if the tyre pressure is correct?
Aside from tyre sidewall markings, you can find the recommended car tyre pressure on the vehicle’s manual. Also, most car models now have the tyre pressure chart plastered on the driver’s side door jam (or “B pillar”). You can also find it on the fuel filler door, glove box, centre console door, or the engine compartment for earlier car models.
However, you may have added things to your car that may add extra weight. You might also have changed the tire size, or you’re towing something. All of these can cause the information on this card to be incorrect for you.
If you don’t have your tyre pressure monitoring device, you can go to your local petrol station. You can check you’re car tyre pressure from there. Simply remove the valve caps on your tyres, insert the air hose, and check using a digital air pump.
But what does this mean? The ideal tyres pressure manufacturer recommends not considering the temperature where you live or the increased load you may have in your vehicle, or if you are towing something.
So what is the best tyre pressure to put in your tyres, and how do you tell?
What is your car’s ideal tyre pressure?
The best way to work this out is to test your vehicle’s tyre pressure when they are cold. Then, check again when they are warm after 20 minutes of driving. The rough rule is that your tyre pressure should increase by 5psi from cold to warm. So, if you start and your tyres are 30psi after 20mins of highway driving, they should be around 35psi. This is a regular thing to do and can be easy with a TPMS unit.
For Sand driving
Driving in the sand is as unique and exciting as any Aussie adventure. Cruising over the beach with the smell of the ocean filling your car describes a perfect Australian summer getaway.
But for first-timers, sand driving can be a challenge and may seem overwhelming. T e first thing is to go over some logistical matters. First, all beach roads in Australia are for 4WDs only. ( es, some are hard enough for 2WDs, but you make the call). Always check for tide updates. And remember, traffic rules on regular highways also apply on these roads.
It can also be tricky with your tyres. T e general rule of thumb is to reduce the tyre pressure to about 18 to 20 psi when you’re on the sand. S me even go as low as 10-15 psi if the soft sand. M mentum is your friend in sand driving, so if you gain a bit, use it well to traverse the road. However, maintain a low speed and don’t do any sudden or brutal turns to avoid rolling your tyre off the rim if you are running lower pressures.
Also, drive over dunes but not over vegetation. B gentle on the accelerator as you are with the brakes. And please be mindful of other drivers, wildlife, and the people on the beach. You’ll be fine if you follow this guide.
Finally, be sure to bring along an air compressor and a tyre pressure gauge. Or, you can do better by installing a tyre pressure monitor beforehand. You might also want to pack some recovery gear – shovels, snatch `straps, maxtrax ramps, rated bow shackles, and maybe sand tracks and airbag jacks – just in case your car gets stuck in the sand.
These vehicles are now part and parcel of the Aussie way of life – whether they’re used for work or travel to the great outdoors. 4 Ds’ utility and power are handy for those living in the rural areas where roads to the worksite or the next town are not always suitable for sedans or SUVs.
Speaking of roads, different terrains you might encounter while driving require a specific tyre pressure and driving technique to traverse them. A d 4WDs are the most well-equipped to get through these obstacles.
We advise that you note the 4WD’s tyre type and its maximum load capacity for the ideal tyre pressure. An LT (light construction) is preferred versus the more common P (passenger) tyres. A d if you are carrying a heavier load, you need to maintain a higher tyre pressure than we recommend.
On regular asphalt, tyre pressures for 4WDs range from 30psi to 38 psi. But it’s best to check on your manual to get the correct car tyre pressure. If you’re carrying a heavier load, you may need to increase the tyre pressure by several PSIs to compensate.
Maintain your on-road psi if the gravel road is still smooth and you can still maintain the speed you’re travelling on. However, if you need to slow down because of road conditions, you may lower your tyre pressure.
We recommend around a 4 to 6 psi decrease when you hit the rough roads, but a lesser drop if you are travelling at a higher speed and/or carrying a heavy load for the ideal tyre pressure.
Take extra care when tackling this terrain. You can lower the tyre pressure to as low as 22 psi to increase the traction and flexibility of tyres and reduce damage. Maintain a slow speed and avoid sudden throttles or turns to avert the risk of hitting something sharp into the sidewall. If the road becomes smoother but still rocky, increase the tyre pressure to around 28 psi.
Feel for the mud is necessary here. If the earth feels slippery but still feels the firm ground below, maintain a tyre pressure of about 28 psi. However, if you can’t feel traction from your tyres because the mud is deeper, decrease the car tyre pressure to 22 psi. Again, drive at slow speeds and avoid sudden movements with the vehicle. Mud can enter the tyre if it deflates low enough.
Word of advice: We mentioned above are not hard-and-fast rules on the ideal tyre pressure for vehicles. These are just generalised guides. Getting the perfect tyre pressure for specific road conditions may take time and experience.
Nevertheless, careful driving is paramount not just for you to traverse these roads successfully but also for tyre health and your safety as well. A d don’t forget, when you return to the smoother road, check for any tyre damage or leaks and inflate your tyres back to their original tyre pressure.
What factors can affect car tyre pressure?
1. Ambient temperature
Remember, the colder the temperature, the lower the tyre pressure. A d lower tyre pressure means the tyres deform further, and you lose grip on the asphalt and cause heat buildup that damages the tyres. Sun exposure also increases the air temperature inside the tyre, affecting the tyres the same way. With these in mind, adjust your driving and how you inflate your tyres depending on the temperature outside.
2. Tyre temperature
As tyres move, turn, or carry more weight, it deforms and the temperature increases. Tyre pressure increases up to 5 psi when tyres expand because of the high temperature created. It is best to monitor the tyre pressure, especially during long drives regularly and if you hauled a heavy item in your vehicle.
3. Tyre condition
Over-inflation and under-inflation of tyres cause different damage to car tyre treads. Rough roads, bad driving habits (e.g. overspeeding, quick starts and sudden stops, driving over obstructions, potholes, and curbs, high-speed sharp turns), and the effects of weather over time. These contribute to the wear and tear of tyres. And a damaged tyre is prone to leaks and punctures that reduce tyre pressure and may cause you to lose control of the vehicle while driving. Included constantly in best practices for drivers is checking tyre condition and tyre pressure at least every two weeks.
What products can help car tyre pressure monitoring?
1. Tyre pressure gauge
The old-school tyre pressure monitoring is through a hand-held tyre pressure gauge. And the way you check the car’s tyre pressure is by removing the valve caps and placing the gauge on the valve stem. If you press down hard enough to when the hissing sound disappears, you will get a reading on your tyre pressure.
A reading from a standard or analog tyre pressure gauge is where the bar stops on the face of the device. A digital gauge shows its reading on its screen. The latter is a little more accurate, but the readings they give out are close enough for both to be reliable.
You could also proceed to your neighbourhood petrol shop, and most of the time, their air compressors have their tyre pressure gauge. The only downside here is that your tyres may not be cold anymore (since you most likely drive to the station). Therefore, the measurement you will get might not be as accurate.
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
Since its initial introduction in the 1980s, the use of tyre pressure monitoring systems or TPMS has grown steadily in the car community for the past few decades. The passing of the TREAD Act of 2000 in the United States pushed further the proliferation of the TPMS, as manufacturers of US-made cars made the system a stock feature in their models from 2008 onwards. European, Russian, Japanese, South Korean, Taiwanese, Indian, Chinese vehicles adhered to this standard years later, mainly for cars below 4.5 tonnes.
Australia has yet to mandate TPMS in locally made cars as of 2020. However, with the prevalence of aftermarket brands, having one installed on your vehicle should be easy. It’s easy to conclude that these aftermarket TPMS units filled the demand for owners with cars not fitted with the device or those who needed replacement.
Types of TPMS
There are two types of tyre pressure monitoring systems – the indirect TPMS and the direct TPMS. The fundamental difference between the two is measuring the car’s tyre pressure.
The former uses the speed sensors of the vehicle to measure the rate of revolution vis-à-vis the speed of the car. If something is not on-standard, the system alerts the driver of an over- or under-inflation of the tyres. This TPMS is relatively cheaper and easier to install but must be reset if you re-inflate your tyres.
We recommend installing a direct TPMS, even if your vehicle has the indirect one already. This device is more accurate and measures tyre pressure (“direct”). The system functions using pressure monitoring sensors installed on each tyre. Each sensor sends unique data regarding tyre pressure and temperature to a central console that processes and displays them.
Compared to the indirect TPMS, the direct TPMS does not need resetting when installing new tyres or re-inflating them. The sensors’ batteries may last for at least three years before replacement. Though, the price of the unit and the tools for re-synchronisation may be a downer. But we’re telling you, having one is a worthwhile investment.
Several aftermarket TPMS models can now function on cars, 4WDs, SUVs, trucks, and caravans. And finding one is pretty simple on the internet. However, it would be better to find a quality TPMS made for Aussies and the Australian environment (sometimes harsh) at consumer-friendly prices.
Our Final Word
Getting and maintaining the ideal tyre pressure for your car results in a safer drive, better fuel economy, and lesser wear. That’s why tyre pressure monitoring is essential for everyday travel, more now than you think. And the technology and tools to do such an important task are now within reach. Install a TPMS now and realise the difference!
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