Driving in the cold weather can be a daunting experience. Imagine you suddenly notice that your properly air pressured tire gets flat.
No puncture. No wear and tear. No bad road condition. No valves stem leakage. No heat. You look around and there’s no sharp object to puncture it. All you see is that your tire’s become deflated. You wonder how it happens but no reasonable explanation comes to mind.
Little did you know that snow can cause your tire to lose its air pressure. That sounds weird, right? It did sound the same way to me as well the first time I drove along Yellowstone Park South Entrance. The experience wasn’t pleasant, but at least I picked up the lesson.
I’d learned that cold can affect my tire air pressure and deflate it. So, when I journeyed in the winter of the north coast of Alaska, I’d put the right amount of air pressure. This way, I was able to prevent my tire from deflating.
The question is, “how much air pressure should my car tire has in cold weather?” This article has got you covered.
What Should Tire Pressure Be In Cold Weather?
Typically, when driving in cold weather, the amount of air pressure in your car tire should be in the range of 30 and 35 PSI. If the amount is lesser, you may undergo a similar experience I went through.
However, in a bid to give your tires the right amount of air pressure, you shouldn’t overinflate the tire. In the end, you have to rely on the manufacturer’s specifications when it comes to how much air pressure a particular tire should have.
The sidewall of your tire contains the amount of air pressure the tire can take. Check for specific details as provided in the tire manufacturer or model’s manual.
Why Car Tires Lose Pressure In Cold Weather
It’s not enough to assume that cold or snow reduces the amount of air pressure inside your tire. You should know why abnormally low temperatures cause your car tire to get deflated. The science behind it is simple.
Let me walk you down memory lane to a bit of what we learned in our elementary science class. When heat exerts on air, it expands; however, air contracts when it becomes cool. The process is the same in your tire. Any drop in the amount of temperature causes the air pressure in your tire to reduce.
So, this is what you observe when your car tires have deflated, even though they were properly inflated before you pulled over and walked into the restaurant.
The lower the surrounding temperature, the lower the air pressure in the car tires, due to lower air density. The air pressure outside your car tires loses some of its density as the temperatures drop. As a result, the tires will lose their pressure faster than they will when the temperatures are high or hot.
While this is a normal experience, it doesn’t suggest that you should overlook any loss in your tire’s air pressure. This is the reason why you must ensure that you maintain proper air pressure in your tire at all times. Any form of under-inflation or over-inflation will result in tire failure.
How To Maintain Normal Tire’s Air Pressure
There are many ways you can check and maintain normal air pressure in your car tires. Regular air pressure checks should be an integral part of your routine vehicle maintenance. So, inspecting tire air pressure is a one-off practice.
Inspect Your Car Tires
As the temperature drops, the air pressure in the tire will become less dense. As a result, most car tires will lose their air pressure.
However, if you’re driving on worn or older tires, the rate of losing the air pressure increases and is faster. The best to keep the pressure in place is to check the condition of the tires.
“How much tread is on the tires?” Make sure the amount of tread in the tires is not low. If they become low, the tire will lose its air pressure at an increasingly faster rate.
Regularly Re-inflate Your Tires
Make tire re-inflation a necessary practice. You don’t have to wait until the tires get deflated by cold or a drop in air temperature. Don’t be pushed to the point when the tires lose the entire air pressure in them.
Keep adding more air pressure to keep the tire properly inflated. You can check the manufacturer’s recommendations as to how much pressure the tire can have.
If you are not sure of the correct amount, check the tire’s sidewall. It contains all information you need about the right amount of pounds per square inch for your tires.
Use Air Pressure Gauge
The tire’s air pressure gauge is an important instrument a driver or car owner should have in their car. This tool is small, handy, and budget-friendly. Yet, it will help you keep track of the right amount of air in your tire.
Besides, it will help guess how much air pressure is present in your tire at every point in time. In addition, an air pressure gauge will also help know how much pressure your tire needs.
You should be able to say the approximate amount of PSI in your car. When this happens, then you can reduce the chance of accidents resulting from tire failure.
Use Pressure Monitoring Systems (PMS)
The good thing is that most cars manufactured since 2008 are integrated with pressure monitoring systems. This system displays a light on the dashboard. Usually, the light comes on when the air pressure in one of the tires is below 25% of the normal inflation level.
Don’t Over-Rely On PSM
No doubt, using the air pressure gauge and other pressure monitoring systems is good. However, you should not over-rely on them. They can fail and can put in a kind of fixation. Through normal seepage, every standard passenger tire loses at least a pound of air pressure in a month.
Remove Air Pressure When Needed
Your tire can also be over-inflated. When this happens, car handling and maneuverability will become a little difficult. The PSI for your tires during cold should not exceed 35.
When you gauge the air pressure and it’s above this limit, ensure you deflate the tire until it gets to 35 PSI or a little below it.
Should I Maintain Proper Tires Air Pressure In Cold Weather?
Yes, you should inflate your tires to full pressure in the cold season. Come to think of it, there’s nothing more comfortable than driving without hassle in and out of the cold Maine weather.
There are reasons why you should maintain proper tire air pressure. First off, low temperatures mean that your tire will experience an increased drop in pressure.
Typically, when air pressure drops, the likelihood of you driving under extreme conditions increases.
While it’s recommended that you should give your tires up to 35 PSI, one tricky question often pops up. ‘Can you allow low-pressure tire on your car during winter’? if you are driving during normal winter without snow, you shouldn’t run on under-inflated tires.
On the other hand, you can easily and conveniently navigate snowy roads with lower-pressure tires. Something between 10 and 15 PSI may be all you need to safely drive your way out of snow.
However, you should inflate the tires as soon as you’re out of the snow. This way, you can avoid the increased friction that occurs as a large surface area of the tire touches the road.
It will also prevent the amount of contact the tire makes with the road. Too much friction causes tire overheating, which in turn, wear down the tire within a short time. In the end, blowouts and tread separation can occur.
Is It Better To Have Lower Tire Pressure In The Winter?
No, except you’re driving under extreme snowy conditions. As earlier said, you can have lower tire pressure in winter if there is too much snow on the road.
Driving with lower tire pressure on back roads that have not been plowed or shoveled will make sense to a limited degree. Additionally, lower tire air pressure can work in a pinch in some situations.
But try as much as possible to stick to the proper pressure when you hit a clear and well-maintained road.
What Is The Lowest Tire Pressure You Can Drive On?
The lowest tire air pressure you can drive is 20 pounds per square inch (PSI). Any PSI that’s lower than 20 is considered flat and can pose a serious threat to your tire.
Your safety and that of other commuters can also be in danger if the tire is not adequately inflated. Study shows that most, almost 90% of the vehicles on the road run on standard passenger tires.
You must keep the standard PSI and inflate up to 35 PSI when you possibly can.
It doesn’t matter whether it is in cold or hot weather. You should not allow your tire air pressure to get to or go below 20 PSI. Regular inspection of the tire with your car’s air pressure gauge is one of the best ways to maintain standard pounds per square inch.
What Are The Risks Of Driving On Lower Tire Pressure In Cold Weather?
Great question, I must say. Here are a few symptoms that come with driving with low-pressure tires:
Experiencing tire overheating is a no-brainer when you’re driving with low-pressure tires. You’ll feel this condition due to increased friction which itself is a function of a more fundamental issue. As a result, the amount of rubber in the tire
Friction increases because a large surface area of the tires makes contact with the road. When this happens, the car won’t move as it should each time you step on the gas pedal.
A sudden loss of air pressure is an immediate and direct consequence of driving on tires with low air pressure. It can come with a very loud sound of an explosion. Of course, when a tire is explored, it becomes useless and can result in tire failure.
Impact damage, extreme heat, overloading, or a combination of the can cause your tire tread to separate. If this continues, the tires won’t be usable again.
Wear And Tear
Your tires will gradually reduce in size and tread will. This will force you to budget on tire replacement more often than you ordinarily should.
Driving during winter can be a tricky adventure. Things can even get messier, especially if you don’t have enough knowledge about driving during this time of the season.
Avoiding flat tires is a must whether in winter, spring, summer, or autumn. If you’re well equipped with the right information and tips, you won’t have to experience any kind of tire failure.
One of these tips is to inflate your tire to the normal air pressure. You cannot let yourself down when the temperature is fluctuating and unstable. Take the necessary precaution to keep your tire air pressure in a normal gauge.
You should check regularly to be sure you have the required 30 or 35 PSI.