I spent several hours researching and putting together simple and clear steps. As per our mission and goal at Car Care Handy, I aim to cut through the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your car care and maintenance.
Step 1: Items Needed
First, you’ll need a tire pressure gauge. You can buy a common gauge but make sure you get one of good quality. You can get a digital tire gauge or just a standard one .
A digital gauge is simpler to read since it will provide you with the reading right on the screen. It sometimes requires you to push a button to start. With a standard gauge, you have to read through a metered bar stick on the bottom of the gauge, once you push down.
You’ll have to record the tire pressure you find, so the next item you need is a plain pen and paper, notebook, or even your smartphone.
The last item you need to check tire pressure is a source of compressed air. You can get a pump with the proper fitting or a portable air compressor that will run from your car battery or a 12 volts power port. But you can always use the compressed air that is commonly supplied at most gas stations .
Step 2: Recommended PSI
Before checking your tire pressure, you have to check the recommended tire pressure in your owners’ manual.
The tire pressure is a number measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). This number varies from vehicle to vehicle. Make sure you don’t end up overinflating or underinflating your tires. If you can’t find your owner’s manual, check your manufacturer’s official website.
Now that you found your recommended PSI, write down clearly and distinctly the value for each tire. Avoid any confusion as it’s possible to have different pressure levels for the front and rear tires.
Step 3: Only Cold Tires
The recommended PSI assumes that the tire is cold. As you drive, tires heat up, and therefore, the pressure increases.
You should always start measuring your tire pressure when your tires are cold. In the morning for example, after your car has been parked the whole night and the temperature is a bit lower.
Tires can also be considered cold if you’ve only driven less than one mile at a moderate speed, or if your car has been sitting idle and parked for three hours or more out of the sun .
Step 4: Check Tire Pressure
Now you’re finally ready to check tire pressure.
Remove the cap from the valve stem of the tire you want to measure. The valve stem is a very small extension (about an inch or 2 to 3 centimeters). It’s usually black or silver. Make sure you keep the cap in a safe place since you need it to recap the valve later on.
Place the pressure gauge right on the valve stem very quickly. The connection needs to be sailed completely. Make sure you press down just hard enough that the hissing sound stops and your gauge can be read. If you still hear the hissing of the air, then stop, reset the gauge while adjusting the angle a little until you can no longer hear it and you have a flat connection. This is important to get an accurate reading.
Record the reading you get in your notebook or smartphone. Once you’re done, replace the cap on the valve stem.
Then repeat this process to all the other tires.
Step 5: Adjust To The Recommended PSI
The purpose of checking tire pressure is to compare it to the recommended PSI. If it’s within the acceptable limits, then you’re done. If not, you’ll have to either fill in the amount needed or release it.
If your tire has less air pressure than the recommended PSI, then you need to fill air into the tires to get the exact amount.
Now you need to use your source of compressed air. Make sure you read the directions of your compressor since they may differ. If you’re using the air compressor at a gas station, make sure you park your car close enough that the compressor hose can reach all four tires. When you hear it running, place the end of the hose on the valve stem then press the lever to fill the tire.
After filling the tires, use the gauge again to check that the pressure is within acceptable limits.
If you find that your tire pressure is higher than the recommended PSI, you should release the air from the tire instead of filling it.
There is a small dot or bead on the back of most tire pressure gauges that help you release the air from the tire. Press the small dot or bead into the valve stem of the tire briefly. You’ll hear the air escaping out of the tire. Make sure you let out just enough air but not too much so you don’t have underinflated tires.
Make sure you have the correct PSI before removing the gauge and recapping the valve stem.
Step 6: Next Check
Now that you’re sure you have the correct tire pressure, you can relax while driving safely and saving money on gas and tire wear.
It’s recommended that you repeat this same procedure each month. Keeping good tire maintenance requires regular checking of tire pressure.
Why Check Tire Pressure?
In one sentence: to save life and money.
You need to maintain the proper tire pressure because both underinflation and overinflation can cause poor mileage, uneven tire and premature treadwear, tire blowout, or in some cases even tire failure leading to loss of control over your car and therefore causing a deadly accident.
The correct tire pressure will save you a lot of money on fuel and provide even better fuel efficiency and economy. You can save up to 3 percent in gas mileage just by maintaining the correct tire pressure.
When Check Tire Pressure?
Monthly. The change in the weather can affect tire inflation, that’s why you should always keep regular tire maintenance even if the tires are new. Checking tire pressure is so simple and you can do it at home while your car is parked or at a nearby gas station.
What is the Correct Pressure?
Each car has a different specification recommended in the owner’s manual by the manufacturer. It’s measured in PSI assuming the tires are cold. The recommended PSI can differ from one tire to another according to the tire function. You can find different specifications for the front and rear tires.
Why Gauge Accuracy Matters?
Gauge accuracy matters because it’s the only indicator you have to know that your tire has the correct pressure. You should never drive with underinflated or overinflated tires. If your gauge is inaccurate, this can be potentially dangerous.
The Bottom Line
Tires could lose up to 1 PSI each month, so you need to check all your tires to maintain a good level of pressure. Proper tire pressure will keep you safe and save you a lot of money.
I made this article very simple, so any car driver can follow the 6 steps outlined above and learn how to check tire pressure.
Do not hesitate to let a professional assist you if you feel not comfortable with the process.
Do you want to learn more about buying new tires? Check out our guide on how to buy tires.