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How to Check Tyre Pressure on Your Car

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Tyre pressure is a big deal. For a start, your tyres are the only part of your car that touches the road, and the importance of them cannot be overstated. But in order to do their job effectively, tyres have to be filled with the right amount of air.

Why Tyre Pressure Is Important

Over or under-inflated tyres don’t perform nearly as well as those inflated to the correct pressure:

  • Handling and grip will be affected, as tyres need to be inflated to the correct pressure to maintain their contact patch on the road. Over-inflated tyres in particular reduce this contact patch, giving you less grip (and consequently less stopping power), while under-inflated tyres will make your car unresponsive and sluggish in the bends.
  • Fuel economy will suffer, too. If your tyres are under-inflated, they’ll create much more ‘drag’ against the road surface, or have more rolling resistance to use the correct term. This will have a marked impact on your fuel consumption.
  • If you like your car to be comfortable (and who doesn’t?), tyre inflation matters in this regard too. Over or under-inflated tyres will spoil your car’s ride quality and increase road noise.
  • Increased tyre wear is another consequence of incorrectly-inflated tyres. If your tyre pressure is too high, your tyres will wear excessively fast in the middle, and if they’re under-inflated you can expect increased wear on the outer edges.

Our Step-by-Step Guide

So, now we’re up to speed on the effects of tyre pressure, how do you go about checking it? Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. First off, you’ll need to know what the correct tyre pressure is for your car. Refer to your manual for this, or open the driver’s side door and check inside the door frame – there’s often a little plaque at the rear which displays the optimum pressures. Failing both of these options, you should be able to find out online. Two units of pressure are commonly used – bar and PSI – so you may need to convert between the two online if your gauge’s units differ to your car’s.
  2. Next up, you’ll need to find a suitable gauge or pump. These are readily available to purchase either online or in supermarkets and car parts stores, and are easy to use. Alternatively, you could use a petrol station pump – though you’ll need to have change handy.
  3. Gauge or pump acquired, head over to the tyre you’d like to check and unscrew the valve cap on the wheel by turning it anti-clockwise.
  4. Now, place the gauge or pump over the valve stem; depending on which instrument you’ve gone for, you may have to screw the end onto the valve stem to hold it on – just turn the knurled end clockwise to do this.
  5. With the gauge either pressed firmly down over the valve stem or screwed into it, you’re ready to observe the tyre pressure reading. Too low? You’ll need to pump air in bit by bit until the pressure is correct, and if the pressure is too high you should be able to push the pump or gauge into the valve stem halfway to release air.
  6. Finally, re-install the valve cap by turning it clockwise onto the valve stem.

We’d recommend purchasing an all-in-one gauge and pump, which makes this job easy. They’re affordable to buy and pretty compact, meaning they can be stored in your car at all times. Plus, they give a super-clear digital readout of your tyre pressure and typically work off your car’s 12-volt socket, allowing you to check your tyre pressures and inflate them wherever you are.

It’s important to check your tyre pressures regularly, as any tyre will lose air gradually over time, whether it has a puncture or not. Even if one looks lower than the others, appearances can be deceiving, and we advise checking all four at the same time. If your car has a spare tyre, it’s wise to check this every now and then too, just in case.

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