How to Check and Fix Your Tire Pressure
Tires are literally where the rubber hits the road, and they play a huge part in how your vehicle performs overall. And although there are many different types of tires designed for specific driving conditions, they all need the correct tire pressure to function properly. When your tire pressure is low, you may find it difficult to stay in control of your car. There are a variety of reasons that tires lose pressure. If you drive on a flat or underinflated tire, not only could you lose control while steering, but you can also damage your wheels and suspension. Whether you’re a seasoned driver who’s experienced tire problems before, or a new driver with your first flat, read on to learn how to ensure your tires are properly inflated and how to tell if there are any leaks in the system. Armed with the right knowledge, you can keep yourself and your vehicle safe on the road.
Signs of Low Tire Pressure
The primary sign of low tire pressure is the low tire pressure symbol lighting up on your dashboard. This symbol resembles a deflated tire with an exclamation point inside. Whenever the sensors in your vehicle detect a low PSI (pounds per square inch) reading, this light will illuminate.
However, this light won’t always turn on, depending on how low the tire pressure is and whether all sensors are functioning properly. Other signs of tire pressure include:
- Audible flapping sound while driving
- Jittery or unresponsive turning
- Decreased braking performance
- Decreased gas mileage
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to check your tire pressure.
How to Check Tire Pressure
To check your tire pressure, you’ll need a pressure gauge, which can be purchased at any auto shop as well as at many grocery stores and gas stations.
Checking your tire pressure is easy here is how:
1. Locate the air valve on your tire and remove the cap. The air valve cap is usually black and sticks out from the inner tube of the tire.
2. Firmly press the pressure gauge to the open valve stem. Don’t be alarmed if you hear a hiss of air; that happens naturally as the connection is made.
3. Wait a few seconds as the pressure gauge reads the air pressure.
4. Check the air pressure gauge. Manual gauges will have a dial that points to the pressure, while digital gauges will show you the tire pressure on the screen.
5. Compare the number shown to the recommended tire pressure for your tires. Individual tires will have a maximum PSI on their sidewalls. However, each vehicle is different, and you should go by the tire pressure recommended on the sticker placed inside the driver’s door. If there is no sticker present, check your vehicle owner’s manual for the proper PSI for your tires.
6. Replace the air valve cap and repeat for every tire.
How to Fix Low Tire Pressure
If your tires have a PSI lower than recommended, they should be filled. Despite the availability of many self-service options, you may not be able to fix the issue on your own. If the problem persists, you should bring your vehicle to your local Bosch Auto Service. Low tire pressure may indicate a larger problem, such as a leak or puncture. You can prevent bigger problems from occurring by having your tires inspected by a qualified auto technician.
An underinflated or flat tire, however, is dangerous to drive on. Therefore, you may want to fill up your tires at the nearest self-service station before bringing them into the shop. Air dispensers are available at most gas stations.
To fill your tires with air, follow these simple steps:
1. Locate the nearest air dispenser and park next to it. The air hoses are designed to reach around vehicles, so you don’t need to worry about making sure you’re on the right side. Just park close enough to reach.
2. Just like when checking your air pressure, identify the air valves on the affected tire and remove the cap.
3. Attach the hose to the valve. Each air dispenser operates in its own way and should have direct instructions on how to start the machine and dispense air.
4. Most machines ask you to set the PSI limit before you start filling your tires so they don’t overinflate. But if your machine doesn’t, you’ll want to add air in short intervals to avoid overinflating your tires. Checking your tire gauge every 10-20 seconds can help you reach your desired PSI without going too far over.
5. Continue adding air until the desired PSI is reached or the machine turns off after reaching the set PSI limit.
6. Remove the hose and replace the air valve cap. Don’t forget to check the air dispenser and turn it off.
Additionally, there are also personal air dispenser machines you can purchase for at-home use. Many of these devices get power from your car via the cigarette lighter socket. You’ll follow the same steps for these devices as you would for any other air dispenser system. If your tire is severely damaged, however, you may need to replace the tire altogether.
What Causes Low Tire Pressure?
Whenever you have a puncture in your tire, the air pressure will naturally decrease over time. There are many small punctures that can be repaired and patched, but larger damage will require a tire replacement to ensure a safe ride.
Wheel and Rim Damage
You can lose air from your tire when the wheel or rim of your tire is bent or otherwise damaged. It is also possible for these damages to cause further damage to the rest of your vehicle. A quick visual check of the wheels or rims for scratches or dents will let you determine if that is the problem.
Natural Loss of Air Pressure
There is a natural loss of air pressure in tires over time due to their design. It is not always the case that tire pressure warnings indicate damage. Filling your tires' air pressure can help restore their functioning. You should, however, take your vehicle to a repair shop if it continues to lose air pressure.
The cold weather can naturally cause your tires to lose air pressure. As the weather gets colder, your tires radiate more heat and retain less hot air pressure. It is recommended by some manufacturers to fill your tires up 3-5 PSI higher than the recommended limit, so that your tires stay inflated and your drive remains safe.
Old and Worn Tires
As a tire ages, it loses air pressure more rapidly. If you haven't replaced your tires in a while, that could explain why your tire pressure keeps dropping. Different tire types and brands will last longer or shorter than others, but the general rule of thumb is to replace your tires every five to seven years.
Valve Stem Deterioration
Over time, or if there’s a defect in the part, valve stems can crack and deteriorate. When this happens, it causes the air to slowly leak out of the tire, leading to a flat.
Bring your vehicle to a Bosch Auto Service for a diagnosis and repair if you see issues with your tires such as low tire pressure.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tire Pressure
Where can I check or refill my tire pressure?
You can check your tire pressure with an at-home pressure gauge or by using a pressure gauge at any self-service center. For professional assistance, we are happy to check and refill your tire pressure at Bosch Auto Service.
What should my tire pressure be?
There is a PSI recommended for your tires by each vehicle manufacturer. You can find this recommended number on the inside of the driver's door or in your owner’s manual. Your local Bosch Auto Service team can help if there is no sticker and you do not have your manual.
Why do tires lose air in cold weather?
As the weather gets colder, your tires radiate more heat and retain less hot air pressure. To compensate for the lower tire pressure caused by the lower temperatures in the winter, most vehicle manufacturers recommend increasing your tires' PSI by 3-5 PSI.
Why is my tire pressure light on?
Your tire pressure light will turn on when your vehicle’s tires are low on pressure. You can use a tire pressure gauge to check their air pressure and refill as needed. If your tires are at the recommended PSI and the light is still on, there could be a problem with the sensors. Bring your car to your local Bosch Auto Service and we’d be happy to have the electronics inspected. Your safety is our number one priority.