ORLANDO, Fla. – Fall and winter in Florida is a time where we take a ride on the weather rollercoaster.
One day the temperatures are up and then next, they are down.
Sometimes a cold front can bring a few chilly nights and nice afternoons, like this past week. Did you know this change in temperature can cause your tire pressure to fluctuate?
HOW IT WORKS
A general rule of thumb to keep in mind for every 10 degrees the temperature changes, the pressure in tires will change by 1 or 2 PSI.
After a cold front when temperatures dip, the air inside the tire takes up less volume compared to when it’s hot outside and the air takes up more volume inside the tire.
This can trigger a low pressure reading from the computer in the car which believes the car tires are low on air aka the little light on the dash that has a U with an exclamation point in the middle pops up. This is the Tire Pressure Monitoring System or TPMS light. When the car begins to move, the tires will begin to warm up resulting in the pressure in the tires increasing 1 PSI every five minutes during the first 15-20 minutes of movement.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER
Underinflated tires can be a hazard while driving. Think about this. Driving creates friction and for underinflated tires, this can cause more wear and the car’s gas efficiency declines. Low tire pressure can also lead to some loss in steering too. If the roads are wet, the little bit of steering control lost can lead to a dangerous situation on the road for you and other drivers.
Overinflated tires will result in a bumpier ride or worse, like skidding or hydroplaning.
WHAT TO DO
Since tire manufacturers have a recommended PSI to optimize the tire performance, it’s good to check tire pressure regularly. All that’s needed is a handy tire pressure gauge that can be found at most service station and general stores. Even if there isn’t a big change in the weather, tires can gradually lose air over time, even without a leak. By simply checking the tires regularly, this task can help you get the most bang for your buck, extending the life of the tires, which we can all agree are expensive.
When a cold front passes by, keep in mind how much the temperature dips behind the front you may need to add some air. Also, be mindful that the TPMS might not be triggered until the tires are significantly low on air. This makes checking the tire pressure manually a good idea plus as a bonus you may find a minor issue otherwise not seen which is cheaper to fix before it becomes a bigger, more expensive problem.
The recommended PSI from the tire manufacturer is set when the tires are cool. It’s best to fill the tires up when they’re cool, but most people don’t have a way to inflate tires at their homes. Before you leave the house, check the tire pressure in each tire. When you get to the gas station, check the pressure again in each tire. Remember, the tires are warm now so the air pressure has changed since the air inside is taking up more space. Add the amount needed based off the first reading.
One more thing. The pressures listed are for the tire size that originally came on the vehicle, which is also listed on the sticker found affixed to the driver-side door jamb, inside the fuel door, in the glove box, or in the car manual. If different-sized wheels and tires have been installed, the listed pressures won’t necessarily be optimal. Checking the information with a tire specialist is best if you’re ever unsure.
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