Understanding Tire Pressure: A Comprehensive Guide (2022)

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Tire Pressure

Tire pressure is a fundamental part of tires and how they work. It’s incredibly important to the performance and makeup of a tire but it’s also something a lot of people struggle to understand.

That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide from our in house experts to put your mind at ease and help you understanding everything you as a driver need to know about tire pressure.

What is tire pressure?

Tire pressure is the measure of air inside the tire that helps to support its weight and keep it inflated. The right tire pressure is essential for a number of reasons including maintaining good gas mileage, tire longevity, and a comfortable ride.

Tire pressure goes into the tire through a valve stem. The valve stem is a small metal or rubber piece that protrudes from the tire and helps to regulate air flow in and out of the tire.

How do I know what the right tire pressure is?

The recommended tire pressure can be found in your car’s owner’s manual or on a sticker inside the driver’s door. If you can’t find it there, look for the ideal tire pressure on the tire itself.

You’ll see something that looks like this “MAX PSI XX“. The maximum pounds per square inch (PSI) is your car’s recommended tire pressure.

How to read tire pressure?

Tire pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). Most passenger car tire pressures range between 20 and 35 PSI and this is for a cold tire. In addition to PSI, you may also see BAR or KPA.

PSI vs BAR vs KPA

PSI, BAR and KPA are three units of measurement that are similar but do have key differences.

  • PSI stands for pounds per square inch and is a unit of pressure. 
  • BAR stands for bars and is also a unit of pressure. 
  • KPA stands for kilopascals and is a metric unit of pressure. 
BARPSIBARPSIBARPSIBARPSIBARPSI
1.30 bar17 psi1.90 bar27 psi2.60 bar37 psi3.25 bar47 psi3.95 bar57 psi
1.35 bar18 psi1.95 bar28 psi2.65 bar38 psi3.30 bar48 psi4.00 bar58 psi
1.40 bar19 psi2.00 bar29 psi2.70 bar39 psi3.40 bar49 psi4.10 bar59 psi
1.45 bar20 psi2.10 bar30 psi2.75 bar40 psi3.50 bar50 psi4.15 bar60 psi
1.50 bar21 psi2.15 bar31 psi2.80 bar41 psi3.55 bar51 psi4.50 bar65 psi
1.55 bar22 psi2.20 bar32 psi2.90 bar42 psi3.60 bar52 psi4.80 bar70 psi
1.60 bar23 psi2.25 bar33 psi3.00 bar43 psi3.70 bar53 psi5.20 bar75 psi
1.70 bar24 psi2.30 bar34 psi3.05 bar44 psi3.75 bar54 psi5.50 bar80 psi
1.75 bar25 psi2.40 bar35 psi3.10 bar45 psi3.80 bar55 psi5.85 bar85 psi
1.80 bar26 psi2.50 bar36 psi3.20 bar46 psi3.90 bar56 psi6.20 bar90 psi
Tire Pressure Measurement Conversion via Kwikfit

How much pressure should be in a tire?

The recommended tire pressure for a car tire is usually around 32 PSI. However, this can vary depending on the type of tire and the weight of the car. You can find the recommended tire pressure for your specific car in the owner’s manual or on a sticker inside the driver’s door.

Light truck tires usually have a higher recommended tire pressure than passenger car tires, around 36 PSI. Tires for SUVs and vans can range from 30 to 50 PSI, depending on the size and weight of the vehicle.

Finally, tire pressure for motorcycles should be around 26 PSI.

How much pressure should a spare tire have?

A spare tire usually has a higher tire pressure than the regular tires on your car. This is because spare tires are smaller and can’t hold as much air. The recommended tire pressure for a spare tire is usually around 60 PSI.

Ways to check tire pressure

There are a couple options available to check tire pressure including:

  • Manual tire gauges: A tire gauge is a small, inexpensive device that you can keep in your glove box.
  • Tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS): Many newer cars have a tire pressure monitoring system that uses sensors to monitor tire pressure and will warn the driver when it’s low.
  • Tire service centers: Many tire service centers will check your tire pressure for free.

Step by step guide to checking tire pressure

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of tire pressure, let’s walk through how to check your tire pressure step by step.

What you’ll need:

– A tire gauge

– A pen and paper (optional)

– An air compressor (if needed)

  1. Step One: Park your car in a safe place on level ground and set the parking brake.
  2. Step Two: Remove the cap from the tire valve stem. You’ll see a small metal rod sticking out of the tire. The cap is usually black or silver and has a small hole in it.
  3. Step Three: Place the tire gauge on the valve stem and press down until you hear a hissing sound. This means that the gauge is properly sealed.
  4. Step Four: Hold the tire gauge steady and wait for the reading to stabilize. You may need to hold it for a few seconds.
  5. Step Five: Read the tire pressure on the tire gauge. If you don’t have a tire gauge, most tire service centers will check your tire pressure for free.
  6. Step Six: Repeat steps two through five for each tire.

If your tires are low, add air until you reach the recommended PSI. Most gas stations have air compressors that you can use for a small fee. Be sure to check your tire pressure one last time to make sure you’ve added enough air before your drive away.

What happens if my tire pressure is too low?

If tire pressure is too low, it can cause a number of problems. For one, it puts unnecessary strain on the tire which will lead to wear and tear.

It can also make your car less fuel-efficient because the tire isn’t able to roll as smoothly. Low tire pressure can also make your car handle poorly and make steering more difficult.

In extreme cases, driving on under-inflated tires can cause them to overheat which could lead to a blowout. It can also misshapen the tire and cause irreparable damage to the sidewall and internal structure of the tire. This is why it’s so important to regularly check your tire pressure and inflate them as needed.

What tire pressure is too low?

The specific tire pressure will vary depending on your car, but in general for an average car, you should never let your tire pressure get below 20 PSI.

What does low tire pressure feel like?

A tire with low air pressure will feel soft and squishy when you run your hand along it and press into it.

What happens if my tire pressure is too high?

Just like with low tire pressure, driving with high tire pressure has its consequences. The main issue with high tire pressure is that it can cause the tire to wear down in the middle more quickly.

It can also make your car less comfortable to drive because the ride will be harsher. In extreme cases, driving on overinflated tires can cause them to burst.

What tire pressure is too high?

The specific tire pressure will vary depending on your car, but in general for an average car, you should never let your tire pressure get above 50 PSI.

What does high tire pressure feel like?

When you run your hand on a tire with high tire pressure, you’ll notice that it feels very harder and less pliable. If you press down on the tire, it will take more effort to depress it.

Is there any advantage to over inflating your tires?

There are some people who argue that it can be helpful to overinflated your tires because it can improve your car’s fuel efficiency.

While this may be true, it’s not worth the risk of damaging your tire or causing a blowout. It’s much better to keep your tire pressure at the recommended level.

At What PSI will a tire explode?

200 PSI is the generally accepted tire pressure at which a tire will explode. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this number can vary depending on the tire and the car. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and not let your tire pressure get too high.

Why do mechanics over inflate tires?

The reason they may do this is because your tires are hot. The recommended PSI is for cold tires. When your tire heats up from driving, the air inside expands and causes the tire pressure to go up. You should check your tire pressure when they’re cold for an accurate reading.

How does tire pressure affect gas mileage?

Tire pressure affects gas mileage because it impacts how much rolling resistance your tires have. The more rolling resistance, the harder your engine has to work which in turn uses more fuel. So, if you want to be as fuel-efficient as possible, it’s important to make sure your tire pressure is at the recommended level.

How does tire pressure affect handling?

Tire pressure also affects handling. If tire pressure is too low, it causes the tire to flex more which makes it harder for the car to grip the road. This can make steering more difficult and increase the risk of a tire blowout.

If tire pressure is too high, it can cause the tire to be less compliant which makes the ride harsher. With the high tire pressure causing the tire to ride along only the center part of the tire, it can also make the tire less able to grip the road and lead to understeer. This can make your vehicles steering unpredictable and dangerous.

Tire pressure for different types of tires

Different tires have very different tire pressure requirements.

Winter tires, for example, have a much higher tire pressure than regular tires. This is because they need to be hard enough to withstand the cold weather and the extra weight of the car.

On the other hand, summer tires have a lower tire pressure because they need to be softer to provide a comfortable ride and better grip on the road.

Which type of tire you choose to have on your car will vary depending on what sort of conditions you plan to drive your vehicle. It’s important to consult your owner’s manual or tire manufacturer to find out what the ideal tire pressure is for your specific tires.

What can affect tire pressure?

There are a few things that can affect tire pressure. The most common is the weather.

As the temperature drops, tire pressure decreases because the air inside the tire contracts. This is why it’s so important to check your tire pressure in cold weather and inflate them as needed.

Another thing that can affect tire pressure is driving habits. If you’re someone who drives aggressively or frequently takes long trips, your tires will lose pressure more quickly than someone who has a more relaxed driving style.

Age is also a factor. As tires get older, they start to leak air more easily which means they need to be inflated more often.

Do tires lose pressure when they are not driven?

Yes, tires do lose pressure when they are not driven. This is because the air inside the tire slowly leaks out over time. This is why it’s important to check your tire pressure every few weeks, even if you’re not driving regularly.

Tire pressure in summer vs winter

Summer and winter tire pressure requirements are different because of the different weather conditions.

In summer, tire pressure should be at the higher end of the range because the warmer temperatures can cause the air inside the tire to expand.

In winter, tire pressure should be at the lower end of the range because the colder temperatures can cause the air inside the tire to contract.

It’s important to consult your owner’s manual or tire manufacturer to find out what the ideal tire pressure is for your specific tires in both summer and winter.

How often to check tire pressure?

It’s generally recommended to check tire pressure at least once a month. However, if you live in an area with extreme weather conditions or do a lot of driving, it’s best to check it more often.

What is the TPMS light and how to understand it?

The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) is a system that monitors the tire pressure and alerts the driver when it’s low. Most new cars have this system installed, but if your car doesn’t have one, you can buy one and have it installed.

The TPMS light usually looks like an exclamation point inside a tire. If this light comes on, it means that the tire pressure is low and you need to inflate your tires.

What to do next

Hopefully now you have a better understanding of what tire pressure is and how it works. If you are looking for a tire upgrade, be sure to check out our special offer for the biggest discounts on GoodYear Tires.

We hope you enjoyed this article and found it informative. If you have any questions then please leave a comment below or get in touch via email or through social media and we will read and respond to every comment, email or question. Thanks for reading!

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