For many Chicago drivers, the warmer temperatures in summer are an open invitation to hop into the car and venture down winding trails or head to the highway for an all-American road trip.
But while those rising temperatures mean fun road trips with family and friends, they also mean changes in your vehicle’s tire pressure — which can spell trouble. Prepare and gear up for a safer road trip season with Milito’s Auto Repair. Here’s how to prepare your tires for summer.
How Tire Pressure and Temperatures are Related
When the temperature changes, tire pressure fluctuates, and that can happen overnight. On average, tires gain or lose one PSI (pound per square inch) for every 10℉ change in temperature.
For example, if the temperature rises 20℉ over the course of a day, your tires could gain two PSI in that short amount of time. And tires that were at 35 PSI back in January when you drove through the snow could easily be closing in on 45 pounds on a hot July day at the beach.
No matter where you’re driving, your vehicle is likely to encounter natural forces that will cause your tire pressure to fluctuate throughout the day. But why does it matter?
The Ups and Downs of Tire Pressure
By having proper tire inflation, you can improve fuel economy, increase handling and safety, experience more responsive braking, and ensure a smoother ride — leading to a safer commute or a smooth summer road trip.
While tires are designed to handle some fluctuation in temperature and PSI, they’re at their best when they start at the vehicle’s recommended tire pressure.
What Happens When Tires are Overinflated
When they’re overinflated, a tire will wear prematurely, possibly unevenly, and cause the car to handle and brake poorly.
This is because less of the tire’s surface area comes into contact with the road. In addition, overinflation can make a tire more rigid and inflexible, which makes it more vulnerable to damage from Chicago potholes or other road hazards.
What Happens When Tires are Underinflated
When tires are underinflated, as can happen in warm summer months, more of its surface area comes in contact with the road. As a result, your car to feel sluggish and slow to respond, and may decrease your fuel economy.
In fact, the US Department of Energy reports that, “Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2% for every 1 PSI drop in the average pressure of all tires.”
Not only are underinflated tires costly from a fuel perspective, but underinflation can decrease the lifespan of your tires and make them more vulnerable to damage. This means you’re buying tires more often.
How To Check Your Tire Pressure
As you can probably tell by now, it’s important to check your tire pressure. So what should your pressure be at?
The most accurate answer is that it should be whatever your vehicle manufacturer recommends, which should be listed on the side of the driver’s door, on the glove compartment door, or in the owner’s manual.
Once you have that number in mind, grab your tire pressure gauge and check your tires. It’s best to check your tire pressure in the morning before hitting the road for the day, and adjust your tires based on that reading for the most accurate number. Note that if your recommended pressure is 36 PSI, that means 36 PSI before you start driving.
And don’t forget that if your car has been sitting out in the summer sun on warm pavement, your reading may be impacted.
Ready To Prepare Your Tires For Summer?
If you’re pressed for time, bring your car to Milito’s Auto Repair in Chicago for a fast vehicle inspection and check of your tire pressure before the heat of summer hits. Our knowledgeable tire technicians will check the health of your current tires, inflate them to the recommended PSI, and let you know if your current tires are showing an unsafe degree of wear and tear.