It’s happened to everyone – you’re driving down the motorway, and abruptly, the ride of your car doesn’t feel as smooth as it did a minute ago. You look at your dashboard, and it’s happened: your TPMS light is on.
Your tyres don’t just suffer from low pressure when they’ve been punctured though. As summer shifts into winter, the air molecules inside your tyres shrink and can cause involuntary deflation. When is the best time to check your tyre pressure and what can you do when your tyre pressure gets too low?
Looking out for your tyre light
More often than not, you’ll notice when your tyre pressure starts to decrease. It’s better to find out about a punctured tyre sooner rather than later, though. That’s why the tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) comes in handy. Courtesy of the computer controlling your car infotainment centre, a warning light on your dashboard will let you know if your tyre pressure starts to decrease at a rapid rate.
This warning system was designed with road safety in mind. Advanced warning that a tyre is deflating means that you’ll be able to get off the road and somewhere safe before you can do unnecessary damage to your car.
On average, your TPMS will alert you whenever your tyre pressure drops 10 per cent below its recommended psi, or pounds per square inch. You won’t be able to see a visible difference in your tyre at this point, but that’s no reason to disregard your warning light.
What if the tyre pressure is too high or too low?
If you go too long without checking your tyre pressure, you risk damaging your car. Driving with low tyre pressure increases the amount of friction between the road and the tyre. Tyres with too little air pressure will go bald more quickly than tyres that have been appropriately filled.
You’ll also notice faster fuel consumption when your tyres are low. The smaller your tyres are, the more rotations-per-minute they have to make to drive your car forward. Your petrol tank will have to work all the harder to keep up with the tyres’ extra effort. As a result, you’ll spend more money at the garage – which no one wants to do.
Not only that, but the more petrol you use while on the road, the more emissions your car releases. Low tyre pressure, then, isn’t just inconvenient for you – it actively causes more damage to the environment.
That said, filling your tyres is all about finding balance. If you overfill your tyres, you’re just as likely to see poor fuel performance as you would if you’d under-filled your tyres. Overfilled tyres have less contact with the road than balanced tyres.
This means that your drive to work in the morning is going to be significantly bouncier than it would if you’d filled your tyres appropriately. This extra stress will not only wear the tread off of your tyres faster than normal, but it also increases the risk of your tyres overheating.
Quick and easy ways to refill your tyres
What can you do, then, to ensure that your tyres are filled appropriately? You can either take your car to your local garage or check your pressure at home. If you want to save on costs and check your pressure yourself, take the following steps:
Find the correct tyre pressure for your car tyres
Bring out your air pump
Remove your tyre stem
Push your hose into the valve
Balance your air with the help of a pressure gauge
Re-cap your tyre stem
Don’t let the pressure get to your car. If your tyre light comes on, keep your safety on the road in mind. Pull over and see what’s wrong. Quick action on your part will save you time, grief, and money in the future.