Tire inflation is one of the unnerving and frustrating situations that motorists face. This is because they often forget to inflate their vehicle tires. In fact, most motorists don’t have a portable tire inflator. They prefer visiting mechanic shops to check their tire pressure and inflate it.
While there’s nothing wrong with getting help from others, you never know when your tires will deflate in the middle of nowhere. If you fall into such a situation where things have gone south, you may start googling “how to fix low tire pressure” or “how long can you drive with a low tire pressure?”
Rxmechanic doesn’t want you to be in that frightening situation. That’s why we have provided an easy-to-read and understand guide on fixing a low tire pressure yourself.
Grab your seat and have a 5 minutes read.
Repercussions Of Driving With Low Tire Pressure
Many motorists give little thought to their tire pressure, let alone low tire pressure. Low tire inflation can cause premature wear on a vehicle’s tire. It can also affect the vehicle’s overall performance. For this reason, don’t allow your vehicle’s tire pressure to get too low.
One of the primary causes of a tire blowout is low tire pressure. Low inflation can cause uneven and outside tire wear, leading to a catastrophic tire burst on the road.
A tire blowout is a traumatic situation. If you have experienced it, you won’t want it to happen to anyone. It is quite frustrating and troubling. When air pressure in a tire gets too low, it’ll allow heat buildup in the tire, which could cause sidewall tire damage.
If the heat becomes worse, a part of the tire will separate from the carcass – the steel and fabric that is used in manufacturing the tire. If this happens, there will be a sudden blowout. A blowout happens unexpectedly and can lead to a collision.
A blowout projects more danger at high speeds, especially when traveling on the interstate. There’s less chance to stop and go driving because the wheels are turning slowly. Still, a vehicle tire can burst at low speed because even at a lower speed, a sharp edge of a pothole can easily puncture low tire pressure.
Here are the repercussions or affects of a low tire pressure you should watch out for;
Driving with low tire pressure affects handling
When driving with low tire pressure, the sidewalls of the tire will flex more than they should; this leads to breaking and handling issues, especially when cornering. You’ll notice a wiggling movement on the tread and contact point of the tire with the road.
The tire will not hug the road as designed, and there will be unstable movement. You’ll also experience low poor traction and longer braking distance. It will become extremely dangerous in an emergency when trying to avoid a collision.
In such cases, you need the best of your car’s responsiveness, braking traction, and cornering stability. Low air tire pressure steals the braking traction, cornering stability, and grip needed during emergencies.
Driving with low tire pressure causes bad gas mileage
Low tire pressure increases fuel consumption. This is because a low tire pressure will not allow the vehicle to roll as fast as it should. It is like pedaling a bicycle with low tire pressure. But if the tires are well inflated, it’ll be easy to pedal. It takes more power to move low-pressure tires, and that extra power comes with harder force. It also consumes more fuel to achieve this.
According to a report by EPA, you can boost your vehicle’s mileage up to 3% by keeping your tires well inflated at all times.
Driving with low tire pressure cost more
Since a low tire pressure can distort a tire’s footprint, it’ll cause uneven and inner tear wear. This tire wear will usually happen on the outer and inner tire shoulders. Premature wear will cost you more bucks in tire replacement. It is important to understand tire wear patterns to know the cause.
How To Fill Your Tires With Air
Inflating tire pressure is pretty straightforward. However, you should be cautious and follow the proper procedures to do it right.
Firstly, allow the tire to cool before measuring and inflating it. I recommend doing it in the morning or right after driving a few miles. Do not measure and inflate your car tires after a long drive.
Next, get your tools close by. Tire pressure tools are quite affordable these days. You can get a quality one for less than a hundred bucks. They are also portable such that you can keep them in the spare tire space.
The next step is to get an air pump. There are many air pumps on the store shelves. There are foot-operated, hand-operated, and automatic pumps. Get anyone of your choice. The first two are pretty inexpensive but require you to exert energy to operate them.
While the automatic is more expensive, it requires no workforce to operate it. You’ll only socket it on the 12v socket in your car, which makes the process more convenient and faster. Follow the below procedures to learn how to inflate vehicle tires properly.
Step 1: Take off the valve stem cap
Remove the wheel covers on your steel rim. Proceed to remove the plastic cap on the stem valve if your vehicle doesn’t have a wheel cover.
Keep the cover in a safe place because you’ll need it later. These covers play an essential role in preventing dirt and debris from blocking the steam valve.
Step 2: Measure the tire pressure and compare it with the recommended pressure
Measure the current tire pressure. Connect the end of the tire pressure gauge to your stem valve. Connect it properly so it won’t give a hissing sound. Read the signal on the gauge and see current tire pressure.
Next, compare the current tire pressure with the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure. I know you’re wondering where to get the specified tire air pressure. Check the sticker on the sill on the passenger’s or driver’s door. If you can’t find it there, consult the owner’s booklet or visit the manufacturer’s website.
Step 3: Add air pressure to the tire with an air pump
Socket the end of the air pump hose on the tire’s stem valve and ensure that it stems properly. Ensure there’s no hissing sound coming from the valve. If there is, it shows the air is leaking. Some air pumps may require you to press down the hose against the stem valve to pump properly.
The next thing is to start inflating the tires. Check the air pressure every 20 to 30 seconds. This is to prevent overinflation, as it can cause premature tire wear. Do not panic if you over-inflate the tires. Get a sharp object and depress the core of the stem valve to reduce the pressure to the manufacturer’s specification.
Step 4: Add air pressure to the tires at the nearest gas station
If you’re asking how to fix low tire pressure at gas stations, this could be because you don’t have a tire gauge and air pump. The air pump at gas stations will do a pretty stress-free job. Input the recommended pressure on the apparatus, socket the hose on your valve stem, and wait until it notifies you with a sound signal.
What To Do If The TPMs Light Is Still Illuminated?
An illuminated tire pressure monitoring light (TPML) shows you have one or more low tire pressure. After inflating the under-inflated tire, the TPML should disappear. However, in many cases, the light will not disappear.
Here is what you need to do to clear the light from your instrument cluster.
Wipe the TPML light
After gauging the tire pressures and the light is still illuminating on the instrument cluster, you may have to reset the code. On most vehicles, you’ll locate the TPML reset button below the steering column. If you can’t find it, visit your owner’s booklet.
After locating the reset button, switch the vehicle to the ‘ON’ position, depress the button until the light blink trice and disappears.
Test run the vehicle
Get inside your baby ride and hit the road for 5 to 10 miles at 40 to 50 revolutions per minute (RPM). This should be all you need to wipe the TPML. You can decide to test the vehicle before resetting the light. The choice is yours.
Q: Can you drive on tire with low pressure?
While it is possible to drive with low tire pressure, I do not recommend it. However, if you have a deflated tire with no inflator and spare tire, you may have no option other than to drive to a nearby gas station.
Still, I recommend removing the wheel and taking it to a nearby gas station. If the TPML just blinked on the dashboard, it means the air pressure is not too low. However, it is dangerous to drive with low air pressure (no matter how small) on highways as it projects uneven outer and inner tire wear and exposes you to a collision.
Q: What can cause low tire pressure?
As indicated above, it is essential to keep your tire pressure to the manufacturer’s specifications. Improper tire inflation exposes your tires and rims to great danger and leads to poor handling and bad gas mileage. What causes low tire pressure, anyway?
Several factors can cause low tire pressure. These factors are the nail in tires, bent rims or wheels, tire refill issues, temperature changes problems, and worn, old tires.
Q: Why is my low tire pressure light on, but the tires are fine?
Newer vehicles have TPML. The low tire pressure light illuminates on the dashboard when the car computer notices a low tire pressure on one or more tires. Depending on your vehicle, the car may project a menu on the screen that will show you the exact tire that is deflated. However, there are cases where the TPML will illuminate on the dashboard and the tires are properly inflated.
If this happens and all your tires are properly inflated, there are a few reasons for it to occur. One of the common reasons is a temperature change. Here’s why I recommend you have a tire air pressure gauge in your car to check and verify.
Q: At what PSI will a tire explode?
A standard tire should be inflated at 30 to 35 pounds per square inch. Under cold and hot weather driving conditions, the air temperature inside the tire expands to about 50 degrees. This will increase the air pressure inside the tire by 5%. The explosion pressure of a tire is 200 PSI.
Q: What 3 items are essential to changing a tire?
Changing a vehicle tire is a simple and straightforward fix. It requires basic tools for easy replacement. Most vehicles come with these tools as a basic vehicle maintenance package. Your owner’s booklet should inform you where to find them.
3 essential items needed in changing your vehicle tire are;
- A jack
- A wheel spanner and a spray bar
- A spare tire.
Other tools you may need depending on your vehicle make are:
- Wheel locks
- Wheel wedges
- Work gloves
- Reflective triangles (if you’re changing the tires along the road)
- Tire repair kit (if you intend to patch a defective tire).
- Alignment studs
- Expansion bar for lowering the spare tire.
It is crucial to learn how to fix low tire pressure. And this article has provided a simple and easy-to-understand guide. There are affordable air pumps on the market shelves you can purchase and put in your car trunk.
If that’s unnecessary for you, you can always visit a gas station. Every gas station in the state has an air pump. For this, there’s no justification for driving with a low tire pressure because it compromises safety.