What’s the Proper Tire Inflation Level for My Car?
Chances are you’re filling your tires with too much air
Having your car’s tires filled to their proper level is crucial. Doing so optimizes fuel efficiency, traction against the pavement, and the tire’s structural integrity. Filling a tire to a psi (pounds per square inch) level that’s higher than recommended could lead to poor handling and cause the tire to burst; filling below the recommended psi rapidly wears down the rubber, wheel, and connected components.
Thus, it’s important to fill your car’s tires to the correct psi. But how do you determine the proper tire inflation level?
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Where to check the inflation level when pumping air into your tires
A common misconception people have when determining the proper tire inflation level is to follow the pressure level marked on the tire itself. That’s actually the maximum psi the tire can handle — not the recommended inflation level. Inflating a tire that much could be disastrous.
Instead, the proper place to find the recommended psi is within the car on the door jam (the frame around the driver’s door where the lock is). There, you’ll find a sticker that dictates wheel and tire size parameters, including the recommended pressure for each tire. That means the front and rear tires could differ if they’re different sizes. You’ll also find psi recommendations for the spare tire here, too.
If you can’t find the psi information here, look in the owner’s manual, hatch covering the fuel cap, or the other door jambs.
Keep in mind this important fact: That recommended psi is for cold tires, which means you haven’t driven them for multiple hours and the weather isn’t sweltering hot. The best time to check the tire pressure and fill up is in the morning or after the car has been parked in the garage.
Make sure you check the tire pressure every time you fill up the gas tank. Don’t rely solely on the TPMS to let you know when to inflate the tires.
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Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a Hyundai Veloster Turbo (which recently replaced his 1995 Saturn SC-2). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.