A common myth on tire pressure is the belief one needs to check their pressure more often during the colder months. We’re here to confirm this is true since tires experience frequent changes in pressure as winter approaches.
Tire pressure refers to the pounds per square inch of air in your tire when measured with a pressure gauge. Underinflated tires are below the recommended tire pressure, while overinflated tires are above the maximum amount allowed.
When your tires are overinflated, it’s typically because of warmer weather or a little too much air being added at the pump. When you overinflate your tires, the center of the tread will wear out first causing your ride to be uncomfortable. Uneven wear on your tires will result in expedited wear-and-tear and a trip to your local mechanic for a replacement.
Underinflated tires occur when not enough air is in the tire due to damages, punctures, leaks, or colder weather. When a tire is underinflated, drivers can end up paying more in gas due to decreased fuel mileage and uncomfortable driving experience. Continuing to drive with low pressure leaves drivers more vulnerable to tire blowouts that’ll need replacing to get back on the road.
How Cold Weather Affects Tire Pressure
Tire pressure fluctuates during cold weather due to the molecules huddling together, causing the tire to be less inflated when temperatures drop. Tires can gain or lose one to two pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure with a 10-degree drop in temperature which happens often during the winter.
Consequences of Driving with Low Tire Pressure
Driving with low tire pressure is uncomfortable for you and your passengers, but it can also be dangerous and expensive. There are many things that can happen, aside from wear and tear.
- Takes longer to brake—Continuing to drive despite the decrease in tire pressure can impact your car’s ability to brake effectively. Difficulty in braking can not only be dangerous but result in skids on wet pavement. If you’re unable to stop in time, you could damage tires from the skid, causing excessive wear and tear.
- Inefficient fuel use—Underinflated tires interact with the road more, resulting in more gas being used to keep your car moving. About .2 percent of gas per mileage is affected for every one PSI that is missing from your tires.
- Wear and tear—Drivers who continue to drive with tires above or below the recommended tire pressure experience expedited wear and tear, especially if they haven’t gotten a tire rotation recently. Uneven wear impacts your ability to keep your set of tires intact and may mean some need to be replaced sooner than others.
How to Check Tire Pressure
Checking your tire pressure might seem daunting to keep up with given how rapidly weather changes, but doing regular maintenance helps avoid future breakdowns. It’s a relatively simple procedure you can do with an inexpensive tire pressure gauge. Here’s how:
- Find the recommended tire pressure—The recommended tire pressure is typically found in the owner’s manual or Endurance Protect app. Some cars may also have it listed on a sticker on your glove box, door, or fuel cover. If you’re unable to locate it, check online with a reputable auto shop or automotive website for tips.
- Check the tire pressure—The best time to check is before you start driving. Please note that the maximum tire pressure is not the same as the recommended. Being slightly below but within the acceptable range is fine.
- Use a tire pressure gauge—Most auto shops or department stores like Target or Wal-Mart sell affordable tire pressure gauges to have on hand. The pencil style has a little arm that pops out, or you can get a more expensive digital version. Choose the device that makes you feel most comfortable, since you may need to do this task multiple times.
- Remove your tire’s valve cap—The valve cap is a small, black, or silver cover on your tire rim. Some vehicles will have a green valve cap signaling the tire has been filled with nitrogen as opposed to oxygen. If your tire has been filled with nitrogen, using a local tire pressure machine can potentially result in your tire experiencing more issues in the long run.
- Attach the gauge to the valve stem—Take your tire pressure gauge and connect or insert it into the valve stem. Your specific gauge should have instructions as well, so be sure to follow them. If you’re unsure, check online for videos or instructions for your make and model and tire brand. This process won’t damage the tire, so don’t be nervous if you fumble.
- Adjust the angle to get a reading—You may hear a hissing sound when inserting the tire pressure gauge. This should not happen if the gauge is inserted properly, so adjust the angle until the hissing stops.
- Check the reading—Note the reading when you properly insert the gauge. Check if it’s higher or lower than the manufacturer’s recommendation. Replace the valve stem’s cap when you’re done!
- Fill tires if needed—After reading the tire pressure, make any necessary adjustments. If your tire pressure is too low, go to the nearest air pump and refill until they’re at the recommended level. This does not mean you need to fill them to the maximum level, but they should be above the lower end of the range for the best result.
Replacing vs. Repairing Your Tires During the Colder Months
Every Endurance extended warranty comes with a 1-FREE year of the Endurance Elite Membership which offers tire repair and replacement benefits.
This benefit is a repair first, meaning the Tire Industry Association (TIA) will be used to determine whether your tire needs to be repaired or replaced.
- Tire Repair—If the covered tire can be safely repaired according to TIA repair standards, this would be covered up to $50 per occurrence. The customer is responsible for the remaining balance (if applicable).
- Tire Replacement—If the covered tire is not repairable per TIA standards, the tire replacement cost will be covered up to $125 per occurrence. When the tire is not repairable, the new tire will match the same specifications as the original.
Tire Repair and Replacement Options from Endurance Warranty
One of the many benefits that come with an Endurance warranty includes gaining access to our extensive network of mechanics that can help you. RepairPal locates certified mechanics in your area that can help check your tires and determine if repair or replacement is needed. Plus, Endurance pays the mechanic directly for both parts and labor, leaving out the hassle in fixing your tires.
Every Endurance warranty holder receives 1-year access to the Endurance Elite membership for FREE. In addition to coverage for maintenance like tire replacement or repair reimbursement, warranty holders are provided $250 in reward vouchers, key fob replacement, tire replacement/repair, and much more.
Learn more about our flexible payment plans and levels of coverage that can get you back on the road.