How Tire Pressure Impacts Treadwear

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
Tire wear is often misunderstood by even seasoned drivers. Most people understand that improper tire rotation and wheel misalignment are the leading causes of premature treadwear. However, what is often overlooked is how tire pressure impacts the tread life of tires.

As underinflated tires run with pressure that is below the specified setting, they wear faster on the shoulder due to the additional load being placed on the shoulders of the tires. Also, underinflated tires by only 6 psi can build up internal heat that increase rolling resistance and can cause a reduction in fuel economy of up to 5%. As tires lose air pressure, drivers will experience a significant loss of steering precision and cornering stability.

One thing to remember is that it is very difficult to spot underinflation without an air pressure gauge. Take a look at the photo below to see how an underinflated tire compares to a properly inflated tire to the naked eye:

Can you easily identify which tire is 30% underinflated? Here is what they would look like in the morning parked in your garage.
UnderinflatedCorrectly Inflated
Tough to tell; isn't it? Tire pressure must be checked with a quality air gauge as the inflation pressure cannot be accurately estimated through visual inspection.

Less common than underinflation, overinflation will cause a tire to wear faster in the middle of the tire. This is due to the "ballooning" effect that occurs when a tire has too much air. Some drivers incorrectly inflate their tires to the maximum pressure listed on the sidewall. If a vehicle's tires are overinflated by 6 psi, they could be damaged more easily when running over potholes or debris in the road. The most common place to find the proper tire pressure for your vehicle is the sticker on the inside of the driver door or inside the gas filler door.

For a better understanding on how to maximize the life of your tires, read "Tire Rotation Instructions," "Alignment" and "Air Pressure: When and How to Set."

TPMS Regulations and State Inspections

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 by Logan Woodworth

Tire Pressure Monitoring SystemsA tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is an electronic system designed to monitor the air pressure inside the pneumatic tires on various types of vehicles. This system reports real-time tire pressure information to the driver of the vehicle, either via a gauge, a LED display or a warning light. Maintaining proper tire pressure is critical for driver safety as well as maximizing tire tread life.

In October 2000, United States legislation enacted the TREAD Act (Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation). This Act mandated the use of TPMS in all light motor vehicles (under 10,000 pounds), to help alert drivers to severe tire under-inflation. This act affects all light motor vehicles sold after September 1, 2007.

Although vehicle manufacturers are now required to install TPMS sensors in new vehicles, there has been some confusion on whether or not drivers are required to keep their TPMS active. Although most states have not mandated the TPMS remain active, there are at least four states that currently require vehicles manufactured after October 2007 to have properly functioning tire pressure monitoring systems. These states include Hawaii, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia and verification of proper TPMS function is part of the annual vehicle inspection.

Take a look at "State TPMS Regulations" to help confirm restrictions in your area.

Benefits of Nitrogen...Yay or Nay?

Friday, August 5, 2011 by Hunter Leffel
At the installer I was handed a pamphlet explaining that nitrogen filled tires will save the dolphins. Is filling my tires with nitrogen going to actually do what the pamphlet explained:Clearing the Air About Nitrogen Tire Inflation
  1. Longer tire life
  2. Smoother, quieter ride
  3. More even tread wear
  4. Better gas mileage
Let’s take a step back for a minute and look at the differences between standard air and nitrogen. The atmosphere is just under 80% nitrogen. Therefore, you are paying for that last 20%. Is it worth it?

The difference between standard air and pure nitrogen basically comes down to predictability and air permeation. Pure nitrogen is more predictable in its fluctuation (or change) of tire pressure across different temperatures.  This is very helpful if you drive your vehicle at an autocross event or race track because you can plan for changes in pressure based on temperature. For the other 99.9% of us this strength doesn't matter. The air permeation (or how quickly the air escapes the tire by natural means) is roughly half the rate with pure nitrogen vs. shop air. This relates to losing about .5 psi a month with nitrogen, versus about 1 psi a month with standard air.
 Accutire ABS Coated Air Gauge
So in conclusion, it would be beneficial for you to spend the money instead on a good air gauge for the garage and glove box, and really make it a point to stay on top of air pressure in your fleet of vehicles. That would serve you the best and probably save you money in the long run as proper tire inflation will give you longer and even tread wear, an improved ride and better fuel economy. Check out "Clearing the Air About Nitrogen Tire Inflation" or contact one of our sales specialists for more information.

Remember to Check Your Tire Inflation Pressure

Monday, July 25, 2011 by Gary Stanley
Most drivers these days understand that it is important to monitor the tire pressure in their tires. Some problems that improperly inflated tires can cause include:
  • Reduced fuel economy
  • Irregular and/or rapid tire treadwear
  • Reduced braking traction
  • Tire failure from under-inflation
  • Reduced corning traction and emergency handling
The good old days of simply kicking a tire sidewall to ensure it is properly inflated are over (and have been for a long time). In fact, with today's lower profile tires and tires with stiffer construction methods, not even a seasoned tire expert like myself can see if a tire is at the correct air pressure by simply looking at the tire. Many performance and run-flat tires could be under-inflated by 25% or more and not look any different from a properly inflated tire! Therefore, be sure to use a quality tread depth gauge to check your air pressure. And to better understand the importance of maintaining correct tire inflation pressure, read "Air Pressure - Correct, Underinflated and Overinflated."
Accutire Digital Set Point Programmable Air Gauge w/Light
It's recommended that you check your tire's air pressure at least once a month, and before any long trip. Who really marks their calender each month with a reminder to check tire pressure? Not many. However, you can use your smart phone to set up a reminder each month to make sure you check your pressure. And if that doesn't work, use the time at the gas station when you pull over to fill up to monitor the air pressure in your tires.

View all air and tread depth gauges.

Accutire Air Gauges: Which One is Best?

Saturday, June 4, 2011 by Ben Rooney
Accutire Racing Air GaugeProper inflation helps tires last longer, as well as improve the fuel economy and handling of your vehicle. Modern vehicles have TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems), which sound an alarm when a tire is significantly low. So an air gauge is still an important piece of equipment for any driver, but which one is right for you? Sometimes too many choices can seem overwhelming. Within just one brand, Accutire, we have several tire gauges available. While they all work well, they do have different features to distinguish them from each other.

The Digital Set Point Programmable Air Gauge is our best-seller. It can be programmed to remember your vehicle's recommended pressures, has a clean, ergonomic design and is moderately priced. If you are still on the fence after researching all the options, this is the one to choose.

The ABS Coated Air Gauge has the highest maximum pressure reading of 150 psi. Its design is rugged and utilitarian. The readout on the side means you do not have to change your grip to read the pressure. If you like to keep things simple, this is your gauge.

The Digital Pencil Air Gauge has the slim design of an old, stick-style gauge, but is updated to incorporate an easy-to-read digital display. On the back end, it has a tread depth gauge, giving this gauge the ability to measure two key aspects of a tire's road-worthiness. It is the least expensive of the Accutire gauges. If you have limited space or budget, this multi-function gauge is an excellent choice. Are you obsessive about air pressure?

The Racing Air Gauge may be your match. It measures pressure all the way down to zero in 0.1 psi increments.  It has a bleed valve to allow precise release of excess pressure. This gauge is a step up in price, but is worth it for those who race, or who want the most exact measurement and control of their tires' air pressure.

Check your tires tread depth with an Accutire gauge.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 by Gary Stanley
While you're itching to put those summer tires back on, make sure to check the condition of your warm season tires before driving on them!

Check for :
  • Adequate tread depth - Most street tires start with 10/32" of tread depth. When the tire's tread depth is below 4/32" drivers will begin to lose sufficient wet traction. And once the tire's tread has worn down to 2/32", the tire is considered legally worn out.
  • Uneven wear - If you find areas of the tread that are more worn than others, you may want to have your alignment checked.

  • Air Pressure - After your tires have been installed, check your tire's air pressure with an accurate air pressure gauge. Take a look at Accutire tread depth gauges, as they are designed to provide precise readings every time.

Accutire Digital Pencil Air Gauge

Checking Tire Pressure

Thursday, April 7, 2011 by Tire Rack Team
Intercomp 2.5" Deluxe Air Pressure GaugeAre you checking your tire’s air pressure?

The Tire Rack Street Survival teen driving schools are developed to provide a controlled environment for young drivers to learn car control through experiencing their vehicles’ handling and stopping capabilities. One year we decided to do a test and got out our air gauge to measure the tire pressure on the participants’ vehicles as they arrived for the hands-on driving school. And the results showed that only 59 of 280 tires checked were correctly inflated!

For more information on checking tire pressure, read:

“We’re Checking Who’s Checking Tire Pressures”

NOTE: Tire Rack offers air gauges from Intercomp and Accutire to help ensure your automobile tires are always properly inflated.

Accutire Air Gauge

Thursday, March 31, 2011 by Tire Rack Team
Accutire Air GaugesIf your tires are going to provide the handling, traction and durability they are capable of, then maintaining proper air pressure is required.

Many drivers spend money on new springs or buy car battery, but forget about something as simple as periodically checking their tire’s air pressure. Adjusting the tire inflation pressure to the “right” inflation pressure helps ensure there are no sacrifices to your tire’s performance.

Remember, you can’t set tire pressure and then forget about it. Consider an air gauge from Accutire, as they accurately measure air pressure within +/- .5 psi and are easy to read.

Accutire air gauges are backed by a 5-year warranty and include lifetime lithium batteries.

View all Accutire products here.

Check Your Pressure

Friday, February 4, 2011 by Colin .
With cold temperatures dominating our forecasts, it is important to monitor your tire's air pressure. Tire Rack offers a variety of air gauges to meet your needs.

Accutire Digital Set Point - Allows you to store your vehicle's pressure information and incorporates a small flashlight at the top of the gauge.


Accutire Digital Set Point™ Programmable Air Gauge w/Light

If you are looking for something smaller, consider:


Accutire Digital Pencil Air Gauge


Accutire Digital Pencil Air Gauge
and the Accutire ABS Coated Air Gauge

Accutire ABS Coated Air Gauge
Remember, monitoring your tire's air pressure will help ensure the best fuel efficiency and tire wear for your vehicle.

Extreme Weather and Your Tires

Thursday, January 27, 2011 by Cody Rollins
Winter Tire PressureWhen was the last time you checked your tire's air pressure? If the answer is some time last season, get the air pressure gauge out and take an accurate reading. Did you know your tire pressure can dip 1 psi for every 10ºF drop in temperature. The change in air temperature could mean your tire's air pressure is significantly lower than the recommended amount.

Winter Tire PressureA properly pressured tire is better suited to deal with slush and snow as its contact patch is working at its peak efficiency. It is important to note that if you take the reading in a warmer garage, consider adding three to five psi higher than recommended, as the car will be operating outside the insulated garage.

For more winter tire pressure tips check out this tech article.

As Temperatures Fluctuate, So Does Your Tire's Air Pressure

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 by Henry Carlson
During winter months the temperature can be 40 degrees Fahrenheit one day and below zero just a few days latter.

A change of 10 degrees Fahrenheit in air temperature will change your tire's inflation by about one psi (up with higher temperatures and down with lower).

You might think that your tires support the wieght of your vehicle, but they do not. It's the air pressure inside them. Maintaining proper air pressure is a must if your tires are to provide the best handling, traction and durability.

We have several excellent air pressure gauges to help you maintain proper psi and ensure the best performance and safety your tires can provide.

Check Those Tire Pressures!

Monday, September 20, 2010 by Roger Laughlin
It's recommended that you check your tire pressures on a regular basis to help your vehicle deliver the highest possible fuel economy and longest tire life. Tire Rack features Accutire digital air gauges to make it a snap to check your tire pressures. Some of the more popular models are shown below.

Digital Set Point Programmable Air Gauge w/Light

Picture od Accutire's Digital Set Point
Digital Pencil Air Gauge
Picture of Accutire's Digital Pencil Air Gauge
ABS Coated Air Gauge
Picture of Accutire's ABS Coated Air Gauge
Visit Tire Rack, make your selection and start improving your fuel economy and extending the life of your tires today!

Spare Tires

Friday, September 10, 2010 by Tire Rack Team
Have you checked your spare tire lately? Flat tires happen, usually without warning, so it's absolutely essential that you give your spare tire some attention on a regular basis. For starters, make sure you know how to install a spare tire on your vehicle. It can be tricky, but your Owner's Manual should provide all of the instruction you need. Once you get it down to a science, make sure you check the air pressure in your spare on a regular basis. A flat spare won't do you any good. Again, your vehicle's Owner's Manual should tell you exactly how much air should be in your spare. Tire Rack offers a number of suitable tire pressure gauges that simplify the process.

And since we're on the topic of spare tires, did you know that not all spare tires are alike? They actually come in a variety of different forms that usually depend on your vehicle. Let's take a look:

Full-Size Matching Spare Tire and Wheel: It requires the most storage space, but is an exact replica of your existing tire and wheel set. Integrate it into your tire rotation schedule from the beginning to assure proper tread wear. And unlike the following spare tire types, you can drive on this spare tire as long as the tread is acceptable.

Full-Size Temporary Spare: Despite the fact that a full-size temporary spare matches your vehicle's original tire dimensions, it isn't the same in terms of tread depth and weight. These spares are lighter, which makes the tire easier to install. In addition, it comes premounted on a steel wheel.

Compact Temporary Spares:
This is the short and narrow type, which takes up less space in your trunk but doesn't offer the tread you'd need to drive a significant amount of miles. It's a temporary fix, indeed. And one that shouldn't be used on any vehicle other than the one it comes with.

Folding Temporary Spare:
 How does a tire fold? Well, when there isn't any air in it, it can fold up quite nicely to save space. But generally not time as you'll need to inflate a folding temporary spare should the need for it arise.

Under Pressure?

Friday, July 30, 2010 by Grant Edwards

It is no secret that today's drivers demand performance from their tires.  Load capacity, traction control and temperature durability are all critical factors when selecting your tires. However, none of these performance aspects matter if you do not maintain the correct tire inflation (PSI) for the tires on your vehicle.

Ensuring that you have the correct PSI is one of the best practices you can do to maintain the overall value and longevity of your tires. Keeping your PSI at the proper levels will maximize your tire's performance characteristics, optimize your fuel economy and keep your expected driving experience in tact.

At Tire Rack, we offer a multitude of PSI monitoring devices to help you monitor your tires. On our Air and Tread Depth Gauges page, we provide an extensive list of Intercomp Pressure Gauges and Accutire Air Gauges for your convenience. These devices will help you maintain your tires and keep you safe and satisfied.

Here are some examples:

Intercomp 2.5" Deluxe Air Pressure Gauge




Acccutire ABS Coated Air Gauge



 


Can changes in altitude affect your tire pressure?

Friday, July 16, 2010 by Tire Rack Team
Yes, actually. Altitude changes can affect the pressure in your tires, though admittedly the change is minimal. Still, any change in tire pressure is a change worth noting because it's the tire pressure itself that carries the weight of your vehicle. So if you live in a mountainous area, or if you plan to drive through one soon, you'll want to pay attention.

As you reach new heights, the air up there tends to thin out. Which means the atmospheric pressure weakens. And no, atmospheric pressure and tire pressure are not the same thing. The air in your tires does not thin out. The difference is in the way your tire pressure gauge reads the pressure within, as it is designed to read ambient atmospheric pressure. Because ambient pressure increases as you go up in elevation, tire pressure would appear to increase. And as you descend, it would appear to decrease.

You can read our full report on this topic: "The Influence of Altitude Changes on Tire Pressure." And, as always, it makes sense to have a working tire pressure monitoring system and an air pressure gauge at all times.

Maintain Mobility in the Event a Tire is Punctured

Friday, June 25, 2010 by Jonas Paeplow

Auto manufacturers have eliminated the spare tire in many of their new models, opting instead for the use of run-flat tires or a portable tire repair kit. So far the trend has been most prevalent with higher-end vehicles, however General Motors recently introduced its new compact car, the Chevrolet Cruze sans spare tire.

Car makers today believe that the mandated implementation of tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) over the past several years has significantly reduced the likelihood that a flat tire will leave you stranded. In addition, eliminating the spare, including the jack and tools can reduce the car's weight by over 25 lbs. Decreased weight is one of the ways new car engineers are able to improve fuel economy.

Run-flat tires can allow you to continue to drive safely for 50 miles at up to 50 mph in most cases with 0 air pressure in the tire. Unfortunately, run-flat tires are more expensive than their non run-flat counterparts plus ride comfort and in some cases tread life can be less than stellar.

So if you don't have a spare but you don't like the idea of putting run-flat tires back on your car...what do you do?

Continental Tire North America, Inc. has introduced the ContiComfortKit (CCK) to the NorthContiComfortKit American replacement market. This system is designed to temporarily seal a tire puncture and provide extended mobility up to 125 miles.

The ContiComfortKit comfortably restores mobility in a few easy steps. The kit is simply plugged into a 12v power outlet; a flexible hose at the other end is connected to the valve of the flat tire. Once the sealant tank is flipped up, a twelve volt compressor re-inflates the tire at the push of a button and simultaneously fills the tire with a latex based, liquid sealant, which seals the puncture. As a result, the tire can be used at a maximum speed of 50 mph for up to 125 miles. Drivers can get to the nearest tire shop and do not rely on road side assistance. A built-in light allows for easy use even at night.

The CCK is only 9.5" long, 7" wide and 4" high. It weighs only 5.5 pounds and does not require permanent installation. It is simple to use and provides mobility in minutes. It can be easily stored in the trunk of the vehicle. The kit can also be used as a compressor to check and monitor tire pressure through a built-in compressor and tire gauge.

The CCK has already been a success with car manufacturers. Since its introduction, it has obtained original equipment approvals for BMW, Ford and Volvo to name a few.

  • If your new car has no spare and no room to store an extra tire/wheel...
  • If you don't like the stiff ride or the expense of run-flat tires...

To learn more about the ContiComfortKit, watch How to Use the ContiComfortKit.


New Air Guages at Tire Rack

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 by Chad Hocker
Even though many new cars have tire pressure monitoring sensors installed, they do not always give the exact air pressure. They simply alert you when the air has dropped.

Tire Rack has introduced two new air gauges, the Intercomp 2.5" Deluxe Air Pressure Gauge and the Intercomp 4' Deluxe Air Pressure Gauge.  My first thought was, ”What is the difference between the two?” Then, when I walked down to see them in our new products display it became very apparent. Check out the pictures below to see the difference.
Intercomp 2.5" Deluxe Air Pressure GuageIntercomp 4" Deluxe Air Pressure Gauge
Both gauges have their plusses and minuses. The 4" gauge was a little bigger than I like to use when checking pressures and it may take up a bit more storage space. However, I could see the 2.5" gauge being difficult to read in low light areas or if someone’s eyes are not as good as they once where. Review these products and your particular needs and get yours today at Tire Rack.

A Note on Spare Tires

Friday, June 11, 2010 by Tire Rack Team
Don't forget about them! They may be tucked away deep inside your trunk or some other discreet location out of sight and out of mind, but Tire Rack is here today to remind you that spare tire pressure is as important as the pressure in your everyday tires. Like a balloon a few days after the party, air inside your spare diminishes over time—essentially it goes flat, slowly but surely. And that's never a good thing when you rely on your spare when you actually get a flat tire. To make sure you're never left stranded with a double flat, we recommend you check your spare once a month to make sure it is ready for action. (Read more.)

Don't have a gauge? Check out our newest gauges from Intercomp. We think you'll find them to be quite handy, thanks to a swivel nozzle and a glow-in-the-dark face. Or, click here to see our entire list of gauges.

Regardless, share the air with that spare!

Check Your Tires During National Tire Safety Week

Wednesday, June 9, 2010 by Doug Moore
Tires, the most important safety item and the most taken for granted part of your car. We have them, we ignore them, we wonder, why does the tire vibrate? Why do I have a flat? And it always happens when it's raining, or so it seems.

Typically all bad situations are the result of lack of simple maintenance. Here are the basics:
  1. Your tires' air pressure should be checked every couple of weeks. It's simple and you can find a variety of air pressure gauges at Tire Rack. The Intercomp 2.5" Deluxe Air Pressure Gauge is very simple to operate and read.
  2. Tires should be rotated every 6,000 miles and periodicly inspected for anything abnormal. This can make a big difference.
  3. Since most vehicles require oil changes at 3,000 mile intervals, having the tires rotated every other oil change can put you on a very simple schedule.
  4. Determining how much tread you have left on your tire can be checked by using the old tried and true method of sticking a penny with Lincoln's head upside down in the tread area. If you see all of his head, it's time to replace your tires. Or, for a more technical method, use the Dill Digital Tread Depth Gauge to get your  exact depth at a glance.
HAPPY MOTORING!!!

New air pressure gauges

Friday, June 4, 2010 by Adrian Lautaru

Intercomp 2.5" Deluxe Air Pressure Gauge
 
Introducing the latest Deluxe Gauge from Intercomp, available in either 2.5" or 4" diameter dial with glow-in-the-dark face that offers great visibility with major and minor indicator markings to measure air pressure from 0-60 psi. It features a swivel head with brass connectors and high quality bleeder valve on Goodyear hose. 

See our complete line of air gauges here.