Why Check Your Tire Pressure with the Changing Seasons?

With the changing temperatures of the season, you may have noticed your car’s tire pressure alert coming on. And even if you haven’t seen it (maybe you don’t have built-in sensors?), it’s important to check your car’s tire pressure at this time of year. Here’s why. As the as the air outside cools now in the fall, the air in your tires cools, too. And when the air cools, it contracts or gets smaller. When the air in your tires shrinks, it presses on the inside surface of the tires less and the tire pressure goes down. Basically, when the air cools in the fall and winter your tires deflate, just like in the spring and summer when it gets warmer, your tires automatically inflate.

This is why it’s important to check your car’s tire pressure regularly. As the air temperature inside the tires changes, the tire pressure changes, too. So why do we care? Well, driving with underinflated tires will definitely cause your tires to wear out more quickly and may even be dangerous when they don’t grip so well. The worst case is that your tire pressure is so low that the sidewall flexes over and over as you drive, eventually bending it back and forth until it heats up and burns out. That’s when you suffer a blowout – usually on the highway on some longer drive. It’s super dangerous, so never let it get to this point!

Here are some steps to follow when checking your tire pressure:

  1. Find your proper tire pressure. There are a few good ways to find your car’s ideal tire pressure.
    • The easiest way these days is to open the driver’s door and look at the sticker on the door jam. Here’s what that sticker looks like on my car.
    • If you don’t have a sticker for some reason or want to look it up when you’re not at your car, you can do a quick internet search for your car’s make and model to find recommendations online. Be careful with internet search results as you may not be seeing your manufacturer’s actual recommendations.
    • And last but not least, you can always refer to your car’s Owner’s Manual. Most people keep the paper booklet in their glovebox so your passenger can grab it and look it up for you as you’re driving to find some place to air up. Some newer cars have a digital version of the Owner’s Guide right on the car’s central display (e.g., Tesla).
  2. Use a tire pressure gauge. There are a few ways to check the pressure of each tire.
    • Many modern cars have built-in pressure sensors. In fact, if a dashboard warning comes on to tell you that your pressure is low, you almost certainly have sensors on every wheel and can change the driver’s display console with a Mode button or menu (check the Owner’s Manual) to show you the pressure of all your tires.
    • You can purchase a tire pressure gauge at an auto parts store or online. Simple analog pressure gauges work great and never need batteries, but digital gauges are often easier to read. Even if your car has built-in pressure sensors, you’ll probably need and hand-held gauge as you adjust your tire pressure since you can’t watch the display as you air up or deflate each tire.
    • Some inflator systems have pressure sensors built-in to them. I have an inexpensive plug-in system that lets me see the actual tire pressure as well as dialing in my target pressure. More on that in a second.

Note: Make sure you check the pressure when the tires are cold, as driving can heat up the tires and cause the pressure to increase temporarily. The manufacturer recommended pressure numbers are for cold tires – before you start driving.

  1. Inflate (or deflate) your tires as necessary. If the tire pressure is too low, use an air compressor to inflate the tire to the recommended pressure level. As usual, you have a few options for how to do this.
    • The easiest solution is usually to find an air compressor at a gas station or road-side convenience store. Sometimes these are free, but often they cost a little money. Some even take credit cards now.
    • My favorite solution is to purchase one for home use. I bought a great hand-held electric air compressor at Costco, but there are many available on Amazon, too. Mine can be plugged into a home electrical outlet or to a car’s power adapter (we used to call them cigarette lighters).
    • If all else fails or you don’t want to DIY, you can take your car to a service center. Here they can check all your tires for proper inflation and tread depth. Usually, they’ll let you know if any have punctures or need to replace a tire at the same time.
  2. Check your tires regularly throughout the seasons. In the fall and winter months, the air gets cooler, and you usually need to add air to keep the pressure up. As I mentioned before, this will help keep you safe on the road and extend the life of your tires.

Upkeepr reminds you to Check tire tread and pressure regularly and gives you some helpful links to get it done.
Screen shot of Upkeepr Activity showing information and a picture

  • You can add notes in the Description field. I like to keep my tire’s pressure for front and back here.
  • It shows you the due date for when you should do it next.
  • In the Suggestions tab, it gives you links to find How To Guides on YouTube and Find Products on Amazon and eBay. The Find Products links are a great way to find pressure gauges, inflators, and even replacement automatic pressure sensors if you ever need to replace them and don’t want to pay dealer prices.
  • In the Upload Files panel, you can add a pic of you tire pressure sticker, so you always have it handy. As you complete the activity, any attachments will automatically be carried forward so you can see them the next time you need to do some upkeep.

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Get started now with these simple steps:

  • Get Upkeepr
  • Setup your vehicle in Upkeepr
  • Drive safely!