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Tyre pressure levels are not only crucial in helping your tyres last as long as possible, but also to your safety as a driver, your passengers’ safety and the safety of other road users. Tyres driven with incorrect pressures can be dangerous - they are subject to decreased grip and increased braking distance, and there could be a higher risk of damaging the tyres.
Under Inflated Tyres
If driven on under inflated tyres, your vehicle will use much more fuel that necessary. This therefore has a detrimental effect on how hard your engine has to work. Control and road holding will be affected as the contact patch of the tyre is not in full contact with the road; parts of the tyre come into contact with the road, that weren’t designed to be. This causes excess wear on the sidewall and edge of the tyres, causing them to wear more quickly. Under inflated tyres are also more likely to become overheated. This means they are more prone to damage.
Over Inflated Tyres
Tyres that are over inflated will be prone to excessive centre tread wear, which will drastically shorten the tyre life. As the size of the contact patch is reduced, handling and response as well as overall vehicle safety will be seriously affected. Over inflated tyres don’t absorb road shocks so well so the chance of damaging your tyres on poor road surfaces or debris, becomes much more likely.
Changes in Tyre Pressure
Some cars require differing pressures for the front and rear wheels. The recommended pressures for your vehicle tyres can be found in your vehicle handbook. You can also usually find this information in the inside of your fuel cap or on a sticker on the inside of the drivers' door.
The pressure will also need adjusting depending on the load of the car. Your vehicle handbook will tell you by how much to change the tyre pressure when driving a fully laden car, packed to the brim moving house for instance - or an empty car, carrying one or two passengers to work every day.
How to check your Tyre Pressure
TyreSafe advise you to check the pressure of your tyres at least once a month. Most service stations offer this facility for a very small fee.
When inflating tyres, check the tyre pressure readings used. Some air gauges use bars, rather than pounds per square inch (psi), and any confusion could lead to burst or over-inflated tyres, but the value for both measurements will be provided in your vehicle handbook.
This helpful video from TyreSafe shows the importance of checking your tyre pressure and how to check it properly: