Bradley Jando | Wednesday 25th August 2021 4:50pm
In order to be safe and efficient on the road, your tyres need to be inflated properly. Tyre pressure can affect many aspects of your vehicle’s performance such as braking distance, tyre lifespan, steering accuracy, and fuel economy.
If your tyres are underinflated, they will have more contact with the road and wear away faster. If your tyres are overinflated, on the other hand, they will have less contact with the road surface and grip weakly, increasing the risk of accidents.
What’s more, driving with tyres below the legal minimum tread depth (1.6mm) can land you with a £2,500 fine and 3 penalty points against your license. So, ensuring you have a sound understanding of how to correctly inflate your tyres is fundamental to your driving experience and safety.
Checking Your Tyres
Before you begin inflating your tyres, you need to check their current air pressure. In order to do so, you will need a pressure gauge that uses the same unit of measurement as the pressure guidelines provided for your car. If you don’t have one, almost all petrol stations will include one in their self-service air pressure pumps on the forecourt.
The optimal tyre pressure for your vehicle can be found using our Tyre Pressure Search tool. Alternatively, it’ll be in your owner’s manual, or, if you don’t have access to the manual, you can find the value inside the fuel cap or on a manufacturer’s sticker inside your vehicle. Tyre air pressure is measured in PSI (Pound per Square Inch) and is usually the same for all four tyres.
It is important to remember, however, that air pressure will need to be increased in all four tyres if you are towing or carrying a heavy load.
Once you know the recommended tyre pressure, you’ll need to check all four tyres against it. On each tyre, remove the valve caps and keep them somewhere safe. Then, insert the gauge into the tyre valve. In most petrol stations, the air pump itself will come equipped with a gauge metre on it. Take the reading from the metre.
If the tyre pressure is lower than the PSI for your vehicle, you’ll need to remove air. Conversely, if the pressure gauge reads higher than the recommended PSI, air will need to be removed.
Inflating Your Tyres
At a Garage
To add air to your tyres, simply insert the air pump into the tyre valve and squeeze the trigger. This should be done in short bursts for accuracy and so as not to over-inflate the tyre. Keep squeezing the air pump trigger in short spurts until the PSI reading on the gauge matches the optimum value for your car.
Alternatively, if air needs to be removed and pressure lowered, pull the nozzle of the air pump slowly out of the tyre valve to release the air. You will hear a sharp hissing noise as the air escapes — this is normal.
Again, this process should be done in little bursts to prevent all of the air from escaping the tyre. Keep gently moving the nozzle in and out of the valve until the PSI reading lowers to meet the recommended value found in your owner’s manual.
Once the tyre is as close to the optimal tyre PSI as you can get it, quickly replace the valve caps and move on to the next tyre. If you have the time, remember to inflate or deflate your spare tyre too — this may save you some trouble if you break down.
Many people opt for a portable air pump that they can use at home instead of driving to the petrol station. Follow the steps above as if you were operating a usual air pump system.
Wherever you check your tyre pressures, make sure to do so when they are cold to avoid inaccuracies. Since air expands when it is warm, the pressure of your tyres will be much higher if you take a reading as soon as you’ve finished driving, rather than if you wait for the tyres to cool down for a few minutes.
Tyres not holding air?
If your tyres aren’t holding air, you may have a slow puncture. Book your car in for a free tyre inspection at your local Kwik Fit to be safe!
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