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Under pressure | The number one thing that wears out tyres

Tyre pressure | The number one thing that wears out tyres

Once upon a time you’d stop in at the service station, and the attendant would not only fill your tank, they’d also check your oil, clean your windscreen and make sure your tyre pressure was optimal.

These days, a service station is a zero-contact sport - pay at the bowser and you’re away. Add to that modern car warning systems, and the average driver is pretty far removed from what makes their car run smoothly, not to mention safely.

Tyre pressure is paramount to tyre wear. Regularly checking that your car’s tyre pressure ensures they last longer and contribute to vehicle safety.

Low tyre pressure dangers

Low tyre pressures affect braking distances and provide less responsive steering and handling, dangerous during an emergency stop or sudden evasive manoeuvre.

In addition, low pressures allow tyre sidewalls to flex excessively, which generates heat. While moderate heat simply accelerates wear and tear, high heat can lead to loss of tread segments or even blowouts.

Underinflated tyres also have higher rolling resistance, which reduces fuel economy. Plus, they wear more rapidly at the outer edges of the tread, which means replacement will be necessary sooner (see? We’re trying to save you money!)

Overinflated tyre pressure dangers

Overinflated tyres are less of an issue. Modern tyres can easily withstand pressures that exceed those recommended for normal driving. However, consistently overinflated tyres provide a less compliant ride and suffer more rapid wear in the center of the tread, which again means replacement will be necessary sooner than with properly inflated tyres.

Determining proper tyre pressures

Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual or the tyre specification sticker on the driver’s side door frame, not the numbers moulded on the tyre sidewall. These indicate different things, including the pressure needed to meet the tyre’s full rated load carrying capacity, not the pressure specified for your particular vehicle.

Vehicle manufacturers provide basic tyre pressure specifications that may vary from front to rear, and also when the vehicle is fully loaded or used for extended highway driving. Higher pressures increase load capacity and reduce heat build-up.

Tyre inflation tips

  • Check tyre pressures regularly. Once a week is best, but no less than once a month and always before any long road trip.
  • Use a quality pressure gauge - pop into a service station or come see us.
  • Follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressures and not the pressure molded into the tyre itself.
  • Check the pressures before driving when tyres have been at rest and are not hot.
  • An increased pressure reading (typically 2 to 6 psi higher) is normal when tyres are hot.
  • If recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, increase tyre pressures for towing, carrying heavy loads, or extended highway travel.

Not sure whether your tyre pressure is right? That’s okay, we’re the Northern Beaches tyre experts - get in touch today.