Many drivers don’t give a great deal of thought to tire pressure, let alone worry about low tire pressure—but they should. Inadequate tire inflation can shorten the life of your car’s tires, negatively affect your vehicle’s performance, and maybe even cause a tire to fail. You absolutely want to avoid letting your tire pressure get too low.
Low tire pressure can cause a blowout. Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of suffering a tire blowout knows how traumatic it can be. When air pressure gets too low, the tire’s sidewalls flex more, and heat builds up within the tire. If the overheating gets severe, a section of the tire’s rubber can separate from its carcass—the mix of fabric and steel that the tire is built on. If this happens suddenly, a blowout can result. A blowout is sudden and unexpected and can cause a loss of control that leads to an accident.
The biggest chance of this happening is when you’re on the interstate at higher speeds; there’s less of a chance in stop-and-go driving because the tire is turning slowly and not building up as much heat. Still, even at lower speeds, there are dangers. A tire with less air in it is softer, deflects more readily, and is more easily punctured by the sharp edge of a pothole.
Low Tire Pressure Hurts Fuel Economy
Low tire pressure worsens fuel economy. That’s because an underinflated tire has a great resistance to rolling. Think of riding a bicycle: When the tires are properly filled, the bike is easy to pedal. But if the tires are low on air, the effort increases dramatically. It’s the same with your car. It takes more energy to move it when the tires are low, and that extra grunt comes from the engine working harder, which uses more fuel.
According to the EPA, you can boost your car’s mileage up to 3 percent in certain cases by making sure your tires are inflated at the proper pressure. We think that’s a conservative number.
Low Tire Pressure Adversely Affects Handling
Low tire pressure hurts your car’s handling as well. When a tire is underinflated, its sidewalls flex more than they were designed to during cornering and braking. The tread, the contact point with the road, squirms. The tire is less stable and has less traction. Response to your steering inputs gets slower and sloppy, and braking distances lengthen. Low tire pressure can be especially harmful during an emergency situation when you’re trying to avoid an accident and you need every ounce of your car’s responsiveness and cornering or braking traction. Low tire pressure robs your tires of the grip and responsiveness they need to help you avoid accidents.
There are a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t have tires that aren’t filled to their regulated PSI pressure, but the biggest reason is safety! If you want to know what the proper pressure for your tires to be filled, you can check out your owner’s manual or give us a call at Kingdom Auto Repair,