So you just took delivery of your brand new car (congratulations!), but before you start taking it out for a drive around town, check the tyre pressure first. Chances are, the tyres are overinflated.
In fact, I faced this exact issue when I first took delivery of my Honda Civic FC. The recommended tyre pressure for the Civic is 32psi, but all four of the tyres were inflated to over 40psi when I checked. If you care about your tyres – and a pleasant driving experience – you definitely don’t want to be driving with overinflated tyres.
What Happens If I Drive With Overinflated Tyres?
The most immediate thing you’ll feel (literally) is a harsher, more “crashy” ride. As overinflated tyres are stiffer, it won’t be able to absorb road bumps particularly well. Take those yellow stripes as you approach a speed bump: if you can distinctly feel each and every one of the stripes, there’s a good chance your tyres are overinflated.
Aside from a harsher ride, overinflated tyres will wear out unevenly too. Compared to tyres with optimal pressure – which will wear out evenly – overinflated tyres will wear out in the centre first. This, in turn, reduces the lifespan of your tyres, requiring you to replace them quicker than it should be.
What About Underinflated Tyres?
Of course, driving with underinflated tyres isn’t good either. While overinflated tyres wear out in the centre first, the edges of underinflated tyres will wear out faster. Again, this will cost you more money in the long run as you’ll need to replace the tyres in a shorter span of time.
Aside from that, your fuel economy will also be worse if you’re driving with underinflated tyres. This is due to more rolling resistance, so if you notice that you’re running out of fuel earlier than expected, you may want to check if your tyres are underinflated.
Do note that visually inspecting your tyres for underinflation is not always accurate; just because the tyres look fine don’t mean that they have adequate pressure. The best way to check tyre pressure is either with a tyre pressure gauge, air pumps at gas stations, or through your car’s tyre pressure monitoring system (if it’s equipped with one).
Alternatively, you can even get a portable air pump. In the event of a flat tyre, you’ll be glad to have one in your car at all times too.
How Do I Know the Right Tyre Pressure for My Car?
You should be able to find the recommended tyre pressure for your car in the owner’s manual. But if you want an even easier method, just look for a sticker inside the driver’s door. Do note that certain cars have different recommended pressures for the front and rear tyres.
Speaking of different pressures, tyre pressure will also change depending on how hot (or cold) the tyres are. As you drive around, the tyre pressure will increase as the tyres warm up. This is important to keep in mind, given that the recommended tyre pressure outlined by car makers is the “cold inflation pressure.”
Basically, if you want the most accurate reading, check your tyre pressure first thing in the morning! If you don’t want to make the trip to a gas station to use the air pump, use a tyre pressure gauge instead.
How Often Should I Check My Tyre Pressure?
Tyres lose a little bit of pressure every day, so it’s best to check once every two weeks to make sure that they still have adequate pressure. You can always do this when you need to refuel your car at a gas station – just drive over to the air pump when you’re done refueling for a quick check.
Will I Really Notice the Difference in Tyre Pressure?
Well, this really depends on each individual driver. Some drivers can immediately tell if the tyre pressure is off, but some won’t even notice that they’re driving with a flat tyre.
Personally, I do notice the difference once I set the tyres of my Civic FC to the optimal pressure. As the tyres can soak up road bumps much better than when they were overinflated and “stiff,” the ride is a lot more comfortable.
Regardless, whether you notice it or not, it’s always best to drive with optimal tyre pressure. Not only does it make for a more pleasant driving experience, you’ll save money too as the tyres won’t wear out quicker than they should be.
So if you’ve just taken delivery of your brand new car, head to the nearest gas station to see if the car’s tyre pressure is optimal. Even if you’ve just swapped out to a new set of tyres – or you had a flat tyre fixed – it doesn’t hurt to check the tyre pressure again for yourself either; it’s better to be safe than sorry.