Tire Pressure and Cold Weather Tips | Lionhart Tires

Cold Weather and Tire Pressure

Cold weather can take a toll on your vehicle. Depending on where you live, extreme temperatures can cause your car battery to die, free fuel lines, and more. However, one of the most common problems drivers face during cold weather months is loss of pressure in their tires. Why does this happen, and more importantly, what precautions can be taken to remedy it? In this article we’ll explore both of those questions in detail. Additionally, we’ll provide some tips on safety, maintenance, and how to properly keep your tires inflated in cold weather.

How Cold Weather Affects Tire Inflation

Tire pressure loss occurs in cold weather for a variety of reasons. The most common being cold air, which causes the tire to contract, which in turn reduces the amount of air inside of it. In addition, moisture in the air can condense on the tire’s surface and cause tire pressure to drop. This triggers the vehicle’s TPMS (tire-pressure monitoring system) light to turn on. Furthermore, if you live in or travel to a high-altitude location, tire pressure decreases with every additional meter of altitude. As a result, it is critical to routinely check and maintain the inflation levels of all four of your tires.

Generally, when temperature decreases by 10°C (50°F), tire pressure drops between 0.07 to 0.14 bars, or 1 to 2 pounds per square inch (PSI).

There are several places you can find tire pressure recommendations on your vehicle:

  • On the fuel door
  • On the driver or passenger side door jamb
  • Your vehicle’s owner’s manual

Inflating your tires according to your manufacturer’s recommendation helps maintain good traction and handling on slippery, icy or wet surfaces.

How to Check and Adjust Tire Pressure

As tire pressure tends to drop with temperature changes in cold weather, it is imperative to check your tire pressure often, usually every two weeks. Here are some simple tips to help you stay safe and maintain your tires during cold weather:

  • You’ll get a much more accurate reading if you check the tire pressure first thing in the morning or when the vehicle hasn’t been driven for some hours. Always ensure your tires are cold before checking tire pressure.
  • Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual. The owner’s manual will specify the minimum amount of air pressure needed in cold tires to support the vehicle’s weight safely.
  • Use a high-quality gauge and air compressor. These tools can be found at nearly any automotive store. If a store is not accessible, you can typically find these tools free to use at gas stations.
  • Check tire pressure and adjust inflation properly. When placing the gauge onto the valve stem, press down firmly until the sound of escaping air stops. The gauge will show a reading of the air pressure in PSI or bar. Cross reference your findings with the manufacturer’s recommendation. If the pressure is too high, put down the valve stem to let some air out, then re-check it. If the pressure is too low, attach the air compressor to the valve stem and fill the tire until it reaches the proper level.

Do I Still Need to Check My Tire Pressure If My Vehicle Has a TPMS?

Yes, it is highly recommended to check tire inflation levels regularly. As the weather gets colder, you may see your TPMS light illuminate more often than usual. This is likely due to the temperature dropping overnight, which in turn decreases your tire’s PSI or bar. That said, that is not an excuse to become complacent when it comes to tire maintenance in cold weather. Air pressure should be checked at least every two weeks. Furthermore, tires may look fine visually, but a tire can be underinflated before it’s visibly noticeable. It’s always a good idea to also check your tire for premature wear and tread depth while checking inflation levels.

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