Love is...Autocrossing. And Tire Rack.

Monday, June 16, 2014 by Tire Rack Team

A happy couple, fun with cars and Tire Rack. A perfect marriage in our book.

Angie and Woody Rogers, both Tire Rack employees, placed their first Tire Rack orders back in 1990 before even knowing each other.

Later they met and the rest is (autocross) history.

Woody, who began autocrossing in 1989, convinced Angie to come to an event for their first date. It wasn't long before Angie got behind the wheel and gave it a try herself. The motoring couple continued to compete in local, regional and national level autocross competitions around the country. And many sets of tires later, Angie eventually went on to win two SCCA National Autocross Championships!

Both joined the Tire Rack team on the same day in the summer of 1999. Woody has turned his love of tires and ample time behind the wheel into his role as one of Tire Rack's product information specialists and tire test program coordinator, while Angie has blended her graphic design training and management skills into her current role as print media buyer.

This time of year, you'll find them prepping their 2002 S2000 for yet another season of competition in the SCCA's STR class.

What's Installed? Woody Comments.

Dunlop245/40R17 Dunlop Direzza ZII Tires

"Chosen because it's an all-around performance leader. This tire is well suited to the task, and inspires confidence to push hard and place the car very exactly, both of which are critical to going fast."

TRMotorsports17x9.0 TRMotorsports C3 Light Grey Wheels

"These wheels have the correct fit plus light weight and economical pricing. It costs nearly twice as much to save just two pounds per wheel."

KW KW Clubsport Coil-Over Kit

"We've used KW Coil-Overs before, and they proved to deliver excellent damping control and a wide range of adjustability."

Eibach SpringsFront Anti-Roll Bar

"The Eibach Front Anti-Roll Bar is hollow for reduced weight and the two-way adjustability on the S2000 fitment helps tune handling as needed."

Intercomp 4" Deluxe Air Pressure Gauge

"Big enough to see from the moon, and always spot on accurate."

AquapelGlass Treatment

PIAA Super Silicone Wiper Blades

"The combination of Aquapel and PIAA Super Silicone wipers makes a great pair to assure visibility during even the heaviest downpour."

Braille Auto Lightweight Racing Battery (Carbon Wrap w/Mount) 6 lbs.

"Saving weight is an important part of this project, and this should shave nearly 40 lbs. from the car while still having plenty of cranking power."

SPCSPC Adjustable Ball Joint

"Installed in the front upper control arms, the SPC ball joints add additional adjustment range to the OEM suspension so we can get sufficient negative camber to optimize tire performance."

Free Shipping at Tire Rack on Parts and Accessories Orders Over $50

Thursday, February 20, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

Starting this week, we've made some changes in regards to the way we handle our shipping charges. Free shipping is now offered on all products in the parts and accessories categories (shown below). Eligible products purchased must total $50 or more (not including taxes) to qualify for free shipping.

Accessory items that qualify for free shipping include:

Free shipping offer does not apply to tire and wheel purchases. This offer is valid only to retail customers in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia.

Don't Leave Home Without It

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 by Ben Rooney

Whether you're traveling across town or cross-country, it's always good to have some basic supplies to deal with roadside emergencies. If you don't already have them, the Accutire Excursion Road Kit is an excellent all-in-one solution.

It features an emergency warning triangle, jumper cables, air compressor, first aid supplies, gloves, duct tape, cable ties, hand-charged flashlights (no need to worry about a dead battery if it sat unused for years) and basic hand tools. View a complete list of what the kit includes here.

A basic set of tools like this can be a big help if you encounter any mishap on the road. Trim or bodywork coming loose? Duct tape and zip ties may hold it in place until you get somewhere for a proper repair and prevent further damage.

What happens if you come out to your car and find a flat tire? If the leak is slow, the compressor can pump it up enough to allow you to limp to a service station.

If your car battery is dead after a roadside stop, your hazard lights may not work. The kit's warning triangle lets other motorists know you're stranded, and the jumper cables will allow you to get a jump start.

This kit is an excellent set of basic supplies. There are a couple of things that I would consider adding: a tire plug kit to permit short-term repair of a punctured tire before re-inflating and a compact mylar blanket that provides a lot of insulation in a pinch.

Quick Tips for Holiday Travel

Thursday, December 12, 2013 by Neal O'Neal

If holiday travel plans take you states away, or just a few miles down the road, it's best to make sure your car and tires are ready. Hopefully some of these travel tips will help you have a safe journey to your destination.

Check Your Battery

We take them for granted, but they can be a major inconvenience when low on charge or dead. Many batteries can be difficult to jump or replace when the car is packed. If you need a replacement before you leave for your trip, take a look at our selection from Braille.

Check Your Tire's Air Pressure

Making sure your tires are inflated properly will help stability, MPG, wear and load carrying capacity. Check out our handheld air pressure gauges to ensure your tires are at the recommended pressure.

This also includes checking the air pressure of your spare tire. Often times many people forget to make sure their spare tire is inflated properly in case it needs to be used. For more information on ensuring your spare tire is used correctly and safely, read "Spare Tire Use."

Properly Torque Your Wheels

Proper lug nut torque is a critical step in ensuring safe travel. The torque spec for your vehicle will be listed in the owner's manual. When installing new wheels, you should re-torque the wheel lugs after driving the first 50 to 100 miles in case the clamping loads have changed following the initial installation. Our high quality torque wrench is perfect for the job.

Inspect Your Wiper Blades

Other items that we sometimes forget about are wiper blades. When snow builds up on your windshield, you need to make sure you can clear it properly and quickly. Our selection of PIAA and Valeo wipers work exceptionally well in winter conditions.

Measure Your Tires' Tread Depth

A tire will lose its wet and snow traction as it wears. Tires are legally worn out when they have worn down to 2/32" of remaining tread depth. If snow-covered roads are a concern, you should consider replacing your tires when they reach approximately 6/32" of remaining tread depth to maintain good mobility. You need more tread depth in snow because your tires need to compress the snow in their grooves and release it as they roll. Our Digital Tread Depth Gauge is a quick and compact way to check your depth.

If you still need a set of winter / snow tires for this season, take a look the options available for your vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tire Pressure Sensors

Thursday, May 16, 2013 by Doc Horvath

Starting with 2008 model year cars and light trucks, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) has been required for all new vehicles sold in the United States. While some vehicles (Audi and BMW most recently) use the ABS system (or indirect system) to keep watch for a deflating tire, most use a battery powered sensor (based in the base of the valve stem assembly) to give the most accurate read of your tire pressure. When replacing tires or wheels and tires as a complete package, the presence of these remote sensors can require a few extra steps in the purchase and/or installation process.

Why does my installer charge a "TPMS" service fee for installing new tires?

Many of our Recommended Installers will charge a TPMS service fee as part of new tire installation. When the old tire is being removed from your existing wheel, it's best to remove the TPMS sensor (and the attached valve stem). This avoids any damage caused by breaking the tire bead loose from the wheel as well as seating the new tire onto the wheel. Once the sensor has been removed, it will require a new "O" ring and/or compression ring to seal the sensor properly.

What happens if I do not add new TPMS sensors to my Tire & Wheel Package?

When we sell a set of wheel and tires, we're happy to mount and Road Force balance the tires to the wheels at no cost prior to shipment. Given the TPMS sensors are located inside the wheel (opposite the valve stem hole), the sensors (if requested) need to go in the wheel before the tires are installed. Without the sensors installed, most vehicles will display a warning light and chime upon engine start up (the light will continue to blink as long as the engine is running). Some vehicles may also limit your ability to turn off traction control if you need to "rock" out of a snow drift in winter or even limit engine output. In many states, an active TPMS system is required as part of the state's safety inspection, and any illuminated warning lights may cause the vehicle to fail its annual safety inspection. With your purchase, you can elect to add the correct sensor (at an additional cost) or choose to have your existing sensors removed from your old wheels and installed on the new wheel. If run-flat tires are being purchased with new wheels, new sensors are required.

If I purchase new sensors as part of my Tire & Wheel Package, what else needs to be done before use?

Many vehicles require new TPMS sensors be activated or initialized at an authorized repair facility or dealership. This process normally involves connecting the vehicle to a service computer (via the ODB port under your dashboard) and having a technician load the new sensor's ID codes into the car's computer. Most cars will need to have this activation service performed each time wheels and tires are changed out (like when changing from dedicated winter wheels and tires back to your summer/all-season set). As always, consult your owner's manual or contact your dealer for more information. 

Tire Rack's Own Take on One Lap of America

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 by Tire Rack Motorsports

About two weeks ago, I (William Loring) had a conversation about the upcoming Tire Rack One Lap of America event with one of my co-workers, wholesale sales specialist, Joe Woodward. Joe has run in the event four times before in his Miata and I briefly asked if he was participating again this year. I let him know that if he needed a co-driver that I'd love the opportunity to participate in this great and grueling event. It just so happened that Joe was in need of a partner and the Street Survivalists team was formed. A few years back, Joe and I were on a four-day trip in Mexico to drive "Baja 100" buggies in an event sponsored by Yokohama Tires, so this wasn't our first time as driver and co-driver.

As a long-time employee of Tire Rack, I've helped run the One Lap Skidpad Challenge many times. While it was fun to help out, it was always a little frustrating to see the drivers head out on their journey and just have to wait for them to return a week later - tired, dirty, laughing and full of stories. It was always in the back of my mind that I'd like to take part in One Lap.

With me getting my chance to participate, our team quickly traveled the first 1,000 miles of the event. And while it went by quickly, there are still over 2,000 miles left to go. We've had some problems along the way that caused us to get to our hotel in Iowa at 2:30 in the morning. Joe's heavily modified 2001 Miata encountered some complications that caused us to avoid using anything in the car that might stress the electrical system. Which meant, no AC, no radio and our GPS is powered by an auxiliary battery. Our team also had a major mechanical issue that caused us to miss one of the track sessions and lose precious points to our competitors.

Even with the trouble, I'm having a great time. The people are fabulous and there are some great cars to watch out on the track: ranging from a Honda CRX HF (which is currently in 11th place overall) to Nissan GTRs, a Ferrari and the meanest looking Honda Odyssey that you've ever seen. There's a camaraderie that is hard to beat. We even had drivers in our own class rush out to meet us along the highway in Oklahoma this morning, bringing us essential parts to fix our broken alternator. These are guys who would stand to gain from our breakdown, but they offered their help instantly, without hesitation!

This event is truly special and I'm grateful to Joe and Tire Rack for giving me the opportunity to take part in it. My back hurts and I'm sleepy, but I'm looking forward to the next 2,000+ miles and the adventure that awaits.

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Bridgestone Potenza RE92

Monday, April 16, 2012 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Bridgestone Potenza RE92 Reviewer's Overall Rating: 8.14

2001 Honda Insight
More Tire Reviews for This Vehicle

Buy/More Info
Miles driven on tires: 770
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Driving Condition: Average

Initial Review, 770 Miles on Tires
April 13, 2012

I purchased Insight w/ CVT Automatic transmission 1 year ago. Car had 130K miles from the orig. owner & kept the car as close to new as you could hope to find. All service records since day one including tire purchases/alignments. Also detailed mileage log that included all gas fill ups, average MPG (46.9) for each tank, etc. Car had a new IMA battery installed 2 years ago and shows a full charge often. I commute 30K miles/year. Most driving is at speeds of 50 MPH or more on paved road. My drive includes freeway/highway roads w/ elevation changes of 900 from start to stop. 5-6K of these miles are city driving with lots of starts and stops. Not much rain and no mud, ice or snow. Over that past year I have averaged 46.2 MPG. If I "babied" the throttle & drove less than 60 MPH I could get 49.6 MPG. However, typically I would get in the 45-46 MPG. When I purchased the car it came with Dunlop tires since the owner had switched to this brand many years ago after the first set of original RE92s wore out @ 62K. I currently have 750 miles on the new replacement RE92s. First thing I noticed was that my mileage jumped up to 50 MPG in the first 100 miles. I then took the car in for an alignment and this was a good move as the car needed an alignment even though my old tires did not show any kind or abnormal wear & the car tracked strait when the steering wheels was not touched. After the alignment the mileage continued to improve. I have now driven 750 miles with the MPG keeping steady at 56.2 MPG. It should be noted that the MAX pressure on the tire says 44 PSI but I choose to run my tires at 50 PSI & had the car aligned with that tire pressure. A interesting outcome is that my road noise is now quieter with the new tires than the old Dunlops & when I go over bumps or rough sections of the road it is easier on me. My only complaint I have thus far is that the car seems to be more responsive to steering and will take time. It is not bothersome-just different.


You Don't Know Jack

Monday, August 8, 2011 by Jonas Paeplow

Wouldn't you like to be able to change your own tires and wheels for occasional track days, seasonal tire swap or even just regular tire rotations?

Tire rotation should be done at regular intervals, to maximize tire life and even out tire wear. Each position on your car will wear tires differently and most tire company's mileage warranties require tire rotation to keep the warranty valid. Tire rotation can even provide performance advantages such as more balanced handling and better traction.

Tires should typically be rotated every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. If you wait until the tires show signs of wear it may be too late to prevent long term effects, such as noise generated when tires wear unevenly. These mileages will usually coincide with other scheduled maintenances such as oil changes.

With dealership labor rates at $100.00 or more per hour in many locations, being able to perform some of this routine tire maintenance yourself can save you a lot of money, down time and scheduling headaches. The basic tools required would be:

  • Floor Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Lug wrench or power impact wrench with sockets
  • Torque wrench
Tire Rack Aluminum Jack and StandsThe Tire Rack Aluminum Service Jack and Jack Stand Set is a rugged, lightweight (50 lbs.) jack that stores easily and can be carried in your trunk for easy transport. At its lowest point the jack measures only 3.5" tall making it easier to get under lowered cars and it will extend to a maximum of 19.5". It has a 2-ton capacity, wide track casters and a 50" removable handle. The rubber saddle pad and foam handle bumper protect the exposed surfaces of your vehicle. Included with the jack and also available separately are a sturdy pair of aluminum jack stands with a lift range of 10.5" to 15.5". Mounted on a 7' circular base, the stands weigh in at only 10 lbs.

Gorilla Extendable Power Wrench Set 1721

The Gorilla Extendable Power Wrench is a hardened steel, 1/2" drive wrench with a telescoping handle that extends from 14" to 22" for additional power and leverage.

For even quicker removal of lug hardware you might also consider the Tire Rack Cordless Impact Wrench. It is a lightweight, 18V cordless, impact that comes with two batteries, charger and a plastic case.
Tire Rack Cordless Impact Wrench

The Cordless Impact Wrench Kit is designed for removing wheel hardware only and should not be used to torque lug nut hardware. Proper lug nut/bolt torque is imperative to provide an even clamp load and proper bolt/stud stretch for longevity of the attachment hardware and security of the tire/wheel assembly.

Tire Rack Adjustable Torque Wrench

The Tire Rack Adjustable Torque Wrench
is an inexpensive, light duty tool that would allow you to properly set wheel nut/bolt torque when installing your wheels. It is a 1/2" drive "click" type, adjustable wrench that accurately measures up to 150 ft./lbs. of torque.

Proper installation requires that the wheel lug torque be set to the recommended specification for your vehicle. These torque specifications can be found in your vehicle’s owner’s manual, shop repair manual or obtained from your vehicle dealer.

For further information on tire and wheel installation see the Tire Rack Owner's Manual.

A few simple tools and a little of your time may save a you a lot and give you the piece of mind that the job is done right. Who knows, you may know Jack after all.

Racing Batteries

Thursday, April 14, 2011 by Tire Rack Team
Braille Lightweight Racing Battery 6 lbs.Tire Rack One Lap of America is an eight-day competition showcasing some of the fastest street-legal cars on some of America’s most challenging racetracks. The event tests the endurance of the vehicles and their drivers as they transit from venue to venue for over 3,500 miles at legal speeds as well as timing their performance at premier racetracks including Daytona International Speedway.

Many drivers will be looking to buy car battery that is lighter than the standard battery and improves the racecar’s performance. The Braille Lightweight Racing Battery is designed with acid-free technology for use in extreme lightweight vehicles and full racecars. Weighing only 6 lbs., this car battery has been used by drivers who have competed in the following events:

•    FIA Formula Racing
•    Speed World Challenge Series
•    SCCA ProRally Series
•    NASA Touring Cars

And Braille batteries are sure to be a great option for all drivers competing in One Lap of America's challenging days of competition.

Braille Car Batteries

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 by Tire Rack Team
Braille Endurance Series (Group 49)A car battery from Braille’s Endurance Series is suitable for daily driving and for racing.

The Braille Endurance Series batteries in Group 48 are designed as a perfect Original Equipment (O.E.) replacement option for increased power and reliability in all weather conditions. Group 49 batteries offer over 100 amp hour rating – the highest in Braille’s AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) line of batteries.

Both options provide race-winning technology that help eliminate corrosion on terminals and are environmentally safe and maintenance-free. The batteries meet the strictest racing battery and street safety standards and are built using recycled lead and plastic for less waste.

View all Braille batteries here.

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.

Racing Batteries

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 by Tire Rack Team

Braille Batteries and Accessories Is your car battery ready for racing season? 

A new lightweight racing battery intended for race events can save a driver precious pounds in their competition vehicle. Improving the performance of many race vehicles and providing custom car and vintage vehicle owners a car battery with acid-free technology, the racing batteries from Braille offer a wide variety of options.

Regardless if you are ready to buy a car battery for racing season or for every day use, Tire Rack offers many Braille products to suit your driving style.

View all Braille batteries and accessories here.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Sensors for Your Car

Monday, January 24, 2011 by Hunter Leffel
Tire Rack carries TPMS sensors for vehicles at great prices and offers the option of pre-installing sensors if you purchase a wheel and tire package. And since, TPMS sensors have a battery in them, they'll need to be changed on average every five to seven years. 
Aluminum Valve Sensor
Do your TPMS sensors need to be replaced?

Sensors available at Tire Rack are 100% compatible with your vehicle's wheels and tires.

Federal law on all vehicles built after September 2007 requires the system and in some states the system must remain functional at all times. Reset procedures differ between manufacturers and vehicle models and can range from simply driving the vehicle (auto re-learn) to a manual re-learn that requires special equipment. You can contact Tire Rack's sales specialists to discuss the specifics for your particular car, truck or SUV.

Braille Lightweight Car Batteries

Saturday, January 15, 2011 by Wes .
Braille Batteries Braille racing and automotive batteries were created to give the user enhanced performance from their electrical system, as well as enhancing the overall level of handling from the car by reducing the weight. 

When buying a car battery, one must take into account its intended usage. If your intended purpose is pure racing, and the battery is only used to keep the car's electrical6 lb. Braille Lightweight Car Battery system going throughout the competition, Braille makes the Lightweight Racing series to fill this need. From 6 lbs. to 21 lbs., they will save precious pounds from your competition vehicle. Some of the heavier models pack enough punch to use as a street battery in warmer weather. See technical specifications on each model.

If you are buying a car battery for year-round usage, Braille offers the Endurance series, which are hearty enough to use year-round. Utilizing the same clean, no corrosion technologies, the batteries gain weight over the racing series, but are still lighter than manyBraille Endurance Series Battery (Group 49) other traditional car batteries. They are a sealed-cell battery with sufficient power for year-round usage, and are made from environmentally friendly recycled materials.

Crank It Up!

Friday, September 10, 2010 by Porter Pryde

The Braille Lightweight Racing Battery is 10-30 pounds lighter than a standard battery of equal power and it is suitable for race use where weight savings are important. In custom car applications it allows for flexibility in mounting location as well.

A wide range of power ratings from 527 to 1380 cold cranking amps and weighing from 6 lbs. to 21 lbs. provides a lot of flexibility when choosing the right battery for your application. Many sizes are offered in standard case and carbon fiber wrap and include mounts.
Braille Lightweight Racing Battery (Carbon Wrap w/Mount) 6 lbs.Braille Lightweight Racing Battery (Standard Case w/Mount) 6 lbs.
Braille batteries offer true deep-cycling ability over the entire life of the battery. The vibration-resistant power posts resist the cracking and deterioration common to many lightweight batteries used in harsh automotive environments. The battery is a sealed unit that can be mounted in any position safely using its adjustable automotive terminal posts.

Braille batteries include a one-year free replacement limited warranty that is not pro-rated.

Braille Batteries: Lightweight Power for Your Race Car

Friday, August 6, 2010 by Roger Laughlin
Braille BatteryBraille batteries available at Tire Rack were developed to provide demanding drivers the power they need in a smaller, lighter package for both race and street applications. Braille batteries provide the highest energy-to-weight ratio of any sealed lead acid battery available today. When speed counts, weight is the enemy, so when selecting a Braille battery you can rest assured that due to i's lower weight, it will enhance your acceleration, braking, and handling.

If you are looking for performance you can feel, check out our selection of Braille batteries!

Braille racing batteries embrace the checkered flag.

Thursday, May 20, 2010 by Tire Rack Team
No matter how detailed your race vehicle is, there's only one thing your performance truly depends on—a good racing battery. And Braille Auto Development knows exactly how to make one. As you know, braille is a form of communication that utilizes touch. Applying this idea to every battery they create, Braille is able to offer drivers performance they can truly feel on the track.

Braille studies every aspect of a race car as it runs the track and the result is a battery that provides a competitive advantage—it's much more lightweight than any other battery on the market. And on the track, the lighter you are, the faster you'll go.

Tire Rack offers a variety of different Braille racing batteries and mounting kits. And not only is every Braille battery extremely lightweight, it also features heavy-duty vibration resistant power posts that resist cracking and other forms of deterioration. Shop the selection to find a racing battery you won't be disappointed in.

"I installed the Braille Lightweight Racing Battery (15 lbs.) into my daily drive. I searched the Internet and found these had really good reviews. When I received the battery I was shocked how little it was! The mounting bracket took a minute to figure out but once it was adjusted for the battery it mounted right were my factory battery was with the hooks provided. Overall, I saved about 16 pounds which is awesome. The auto posts included were a nice touch and everything seemed thought out pretty well." — Tire Rack Consumer Review, AK

Under Pressure

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 by Jonas Paeplow

Most vehicle owners do not check tire pressure nearly enough. An American Automobile Association (AAA) poll suggests that 85 percent of motorists do not even know how to check tire pressure.

The most important job a tire has is to support the load to which it is attached. Tires are rated to handle specific loads but only at a predetermined air pressure. By keeping the air pressure set correctly, tire performance, longevity and fuel economy are optimized.

According to tire industry data, 85 percent of all tire air pressure losses are the result of slow leaks that occur over a period of time. Tires typically lose air pressure through natural leakage (permeation) at a rate of about 1 psi per month. In addition, tire manufacturers say that seasonal climatic changes result in air pressure losses of 1 psi for every 10 degrees F decrease in the ambient temperature.

Here in the Midwest, differences between summer and winter temperatures average about 50 degrees F, resulting in a net loss or gain of approximately 5 psi in air pressure. This variation is enough to drastically affect handling, traction and durability of the average tire if the pressure is not adjusted. Even temperature fluctuations during an average day can make a difference. Variations between nighttime and daytime temperatures in this part of the country can average 20 degrees F and result in pressure changes of more than 2 psi.

A tire pressure survey of more than 5,400 vehicles’ conducted in March-May 2009, by the Rubber Manufacturers of America found:

  • Only 9% of vehicles had four properly inflated tires.
  • 50% of vehicles had at least one under inflated tire.
  • 19% of vehicles had at least one tire under inflated by 8 psi

According to government statistics, in the United States, 660 lives are lost and 33,000 are injured every year due to tire pressure related accidents. Improper tire pressure costs an extra $3.7 billion in fuel annually and every year, 4.5 million tires need to be replaced before reaching the end of their designed lifespan. A 10 psi loss of air pressure could result in a corresponding reduction in tire load capacity of 1,000 lbs. Overloading of tires combined with highway speeds will cause tires to overheat and lead to them to fail, prematurely.

Tire inflation pressure should be checked every month and before long trips. To properly check pressure, check tires when cold – before the vehicle is driven. Use the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure found on a label located on the driver’s door or door pillar or check the owner’s manual.

The most accurate way to check your tire pressure economically is with a digital tire pressure gauge. Two of the finest examples available at Tire Rack are:

The Accutire ABS Coated Air Gauge features heavy-duty construction to withstand shifting around in your glove compartment. Designed to last, it has an angled head and rubber coated handle for easy gripping. The LCD display is large and easy-to-read. If you forget to turn the gauge off, don't worry, it is equipped with automatic shut off. The tire gauge will read within 0.05 psi. The lithium battery will never need to be recharged or replaced. This digital gauge measures air pressure from 5-150 psi in 0.5-pound increments.


ABS Coated Air Gauge 

Accutire Digital Set Point Programmable Air Gauge w/Light is an easy-to-use, multi-featured gauge with an extra large, blue, backlit LCD screen and ergonomic styling. It measures psi from 5-99 pounds in 0.5-pound units, and includes the patent-protected Set Point programmable feature which allows for recording the factory-recommended tire pressure for both front and rear tires. Other helpful features include a white LED flashlight to make checking tire pressure at night or in the garage a cinch; an audible pressure signal; auto off; and a five-year manufacturer warranty.

Digital Set Point Programmable Air Gauge w/Light

But my car came equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System, why do I still need to check pressures, why not just wait until the light comes on?

The system of computer and sensors to monitor tire pressure is known as Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). A major concern is that drivers of vehicles equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system will become over confident in the capabilities of their system and will be even less likely to confirm their vehicle's cold tire pressure

In the fall of 2000, following several fatal accidents involving tire inflation, tire failure and vehicle rollover, a bill called the Transportation Recall, Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act (TREAD) was signed into law. This law mandates the use of a suitable TPMS technology in order to alert drivers of a severe under-inflation condition of their tires. All new models produced after September 2007 are required to have the system.

There are two types of systems on the market today — indirect and direct. As a tire loses pressure its rotational speed changes relative to the properly inflated tires. Indirect systems use algorithms to interpret signals from wheel speed sensors to detect a deflated tire.

Direct systems use separate pressure transducers mounted in each wheel that detect deflation and then transmit a frequency signal to a control unit which triggers an information lamp on the instrument panel. Both systems still require manual correction of the tire’s air pressure.

So why should you still check your tire pressure manually? Well, its a little like waiting until your oil light comes on before you check your oil, in other words, it could be too late.

A passenger car tire that requires 35 psi on a vehicle with TPMS may not trigger the lamp and warn the driver about pressure loss until it drops to 26 psi depending on the type of system used. Under the same circumstances, a driver of a light truck that calls for 80 psi won't be warned until just 60 psi remains. In both of these cases, significant load capacity has been sacrificed before the driver is warned.

Regardless of what type of vehicle you drive or what type of tires you ride, spending a few minutes every month checking your tires is time well spent. You'll save fuel dollars, premature tire replacement costs and who knows, perhaps you might save someone's life in the process. Isn't that worth it?

Under Pressure: Pressure Gauge vs. Ambient Temperature

Monday, April 12, 2010 by Woody Rogers
Originally written for Grassroots Motorsports magazine late last year.

As we fine-tune our setups, we often make small tire pressure adjustments to help balance the car and manage tire wear. Small changes can make a difference, and the gap between winning and second place can be smaller still. So how accurate is your tire pressure gauge?

To find out how the various commercially available tire pressuregauges behave in real-world conditions, we tested several types against a calibrated, high-end digital unit. We used a tire and
wheel assembly initially set at 40 psi, and took multiple samples with each gauge. Readings were taken back to back with the reference gauge to minimize the influence of air loss after those multiple readings. The reference gauge and tire were kept in a climate-controlled room for consistency.

The Gauges
Reference This high-end digital gauge has been calibrated for 1/10 psi accuracy.
$50 0-60 psi dial gauge w/bleeder valve This gauge has been in service for several years, replacing one ruined by a single drop onto the pavement.
$18 low-cost digital gauge: We’ve used this one daily for nearly a year and have dropped and banged it a number of times.
$5 pocket digital gauge This one’s brand-new.
$1 pencil-style stick gauge: This gauge has led an unknown but lengthy service life.


Room Temperature (72 Degrees F)
Dial gauge 0.9 psi low, 2.26 percent error
Low-cost digital gauge 0.4 psi high, 0.98 percent error
Pocket digital gauge 6.4 psi high, 16.11 percent error
Pencil gauge 5.6 psi low, 14.18 percent error

The low-cost digital gauge proved to be consistent and accurate despite its hard
service life. The $50 dial gauge was also reasonably close, but it was off by more than
2 percent. Think all digital gauges are the same? The pocket digital gauge had a 6.4
psi error versus the reference—that’s 16 percent—along with a 2 psi variance in its
readings. And since most pencil gauges are known to be inaccurate, our example’s 6
psi error wasn’t much of a surprise.

Below Freezing (4.5 Degrees F)
Dial gauge 2.0 psi low, 5.13 percent error
Low-cost digital gauge not functioning, no reading
Pocket digital gauge not functioning, no reading
Pencil gauge 4.8 psi low, 12.37 percent error

Have you ever left your gauge in a glovebox or unheated garage during cold winter months? Just as tire pressures change with temperature, so can the readings on your mechanical gauge.
Why? Its pressure readings rely on a temperature-sensitive spring.

To measure the effects of a chilly environment on our gauges, we stuck them in the freezer for 18 hours. At subfreezing temperatures, the dial gauge read 2 psi—5 percent—lower than
the reference. Interestingly, the pencil gauge was slow to give its final reading, taking more than 2 seconds. Alarmingly, neither of the digital gauges worked. Their LED flashlights continued to
function, so we knew their internal batteries still had some power.

In the Sun (105 Degrees F)
Dial gauge 0.8 psi low, 2.06 percent error
Low-cost digital gauge 0.2 psi high, 0.52 percent error
Pocket digital gauge not functioning, no reading
Pencil gauge 1.5 psi low, 3.9 percent error

After giving the gauges 24 hours to return to room temperature, we placed them in the sun for several hours. We wanted to simulate a gauge left on the pit wall or tool box. The air temperature was 79 degrees F, but the gauges heated up to 105 degrees.


Our tire gauge tests taught us a few things, and helped us come up with some recommendations for gathering the best readings possible:
  1. Treat your tire pressure gauge like the precision instrument it is.
  2. Go digital. Even $20 will buy an accurate gauge; spending more adds features and may allow for recalibration, but probably won’t improve accuracy.
  3. Mechanical gauges are more prone to fluctuations in temperature. They can also be permanently damaged by even minor bangs and bumps.
  4. Always use the same pressure gauge. Different gauges are likely to give different readings. Using the same gauge will at least keep all of your readings relative.
  5. Have your gauge regularly checked for accuracy.
  6. If your gauge reads low, you are over-inflating your tires. If your gauge reads high, you are unknowingly under-inflating your tires.
And keep in mind: We conducted our test with our wheel and tire set to 40 psi. If your pressures are higher or lower, or if you’re using a different brand of gauge, your results are likely to be different. After all, even variance is variable.