Tires are the one part of your car that you should never ignore. Along with making sure they have enough tread and are in good shape, you don’t want to let the air pressure in your tyres drop to a point where it could be very dangerous to drive!
Most standard cars are safe to drive with tyre pressure between 30 and 35 pounds per square inch (PSI). But if you want to drive safely, you should check what the manufacturer of your car recommends for tyre pressure.
Here’s what you need to know to stay safe on the road about low tyre pressure, how it happened, and what you can do to fix it.
What Happens When Tire Pressure is Too Low?
When you drive on tyres with too little air pressure, many things happen that you don’t know about. First of all, a lot more of the tire’s surface actually touches the road at any given time.
Even though this may not seem important, it is!
More of your tire’s surface touching the road causes more friction to build up. If you keep doing this, the chemicals that make up your tyre will start to break down, which can cause your tyre to overheat, especially if you are going fast.
When this happens, it could lead to a blowout and an accident that could seriously hurt you and other people.
We hope this will never happen to you. But even if it doesn’t, if you drive around with low tyre pressure, you won’t get as good of gas mileage because your car has to work harder.
So, you might not stop at the gas station to add air to your tyres, but you will spend a lot of money that you don’t need to keep your gas tank full.
Can You Drive with Low Tire Pressure?
You can still drive your car even if the tyre pressure is low, but we don’t recommend it. But if you have to do it, there are some things you should remember.
Try to drive only very short distances at first. Low tyre pressure makes it more likely that a tyre will fail or blow out if you try to drive fast over long distances.
Next, get rid of as much extra weight as you can from your car. Whether you do this by having few or no other people in the car or by not filling it up with groceries or other things, reducing the weight of your car will put less stress on the sidewalls of your tyres.
Lastly, try to drive as close to the speed limit as you can without being unsafe. More pressure is put on your tyres the more you go over the speed limit.
When this happens, your car may feel less stable on the road, which makes it more likely that you will get a flat tyre or get into some other kind of accident.
What is Considered Low Tire Pressure?
Even though people can have different ideas about what low tyre pressure is, we have found that on most standard passenger vehicles, tyres with a pressure of 20 pounds per square inch are considered to have very low tyre pressure.
Tires on most standard cars need 32 pounds per square inch of pressure or more, depending on the size of the car and the size of the tyre. If you try to drive your car when the tyre pressure is 20 psi or less, you are essentially driving a car with a flat tyre.
If you do this, you risk a blowout at high speeds and damage to your vehicle’s suspension and other parts, even if you’re just driving around town at slower speeds.
If your car has a tire-pressure monitoring system, a light will come on in the dash if any or all of your tyres have air pressure that is at least 25% lower than what the car’s manufacturer recommends.
So, if your tyres normally need 32 pounds of air per square inch, and you get this alert, it means your tyres have no more than 24 pounds of air pressure, which means you need to stop at the next gas station with an air pump.
What is a Dangerously Low Tire Pressure?
It goes without saying that the more your tyre pressure drops, the more dangerous it is to drive on the highway.
When your tyres have at least 25% less air pressure than what the manufacturer of your car recommends, this is definitely a dangerously low tyre pressure. If the air pressure in one or more of your tyres is close to 20 pounds per square inch, you drive at your own risk.
If your tyre pressure suddenly drops to a dangerously low level, you should pull off the road and call for help right away. Since you won’t know what might have happened, the best thing you can do is have a professional look at your tyres.
Most experts consider a 25% drop in tyre pressure to be dangerously low. However, some manufacturers now have rules that say even a 10% drop in tyre pressure could be dangerous.
This can happen when your tyre pressure drops by only three to five pounds per square inch. Instead of risking a serious or even fatal accident, pay attention to your tire-pressure monitoring system’s warning light and check your tyres as soon as you can.
Safe Tire Pressure Range
When trying to figure out what the safe range of tyre pressure is, you may get confused because it can be different from one manufacturer to the next. But we’ve found that most experts agree that 30-35 pounds per square inch is a safe range for standard vehicles’ tyre pressure.
Look for a label inside your car to find out what the manufacturer recommends for your tyres.
Usually, you can find this on the door of your car, on the doorpost, or in the glove box. On the label, you’ll find suggestions for your car’s front tyres, back tyres, and spare tyre.
Also, keep in mind that if you buy the same kind of tyres when you replace them, the same rules will still apply. But if you get bigger tyres and put them on your car, you should check the sidewalls to see what the maximum cold PSI level is.
If you want to check the pressure in your tyres, it’s best to do so first thing in the morning or at least three hours after you’ve been driving.
If you check your tyre pressure as soon as you pull into your driveway, your tyre gauge may not give you an accurate reading because your tyres haven’t had enough time to cool down.
Why Tires Lose Pressure
When the air pressure in your car’s tyres goes down, it could be because of a few different things.
First, the valve stem cap might be gone. If you don’t have this cap on the valve stem, dirt and debris can get in and eventually break the seal. When this happens, very slowly, air will start to leak out.
The loss of tyre pressure can sometimes be caused by a worn-out valve stem. Valve stems, which are usually made of plastic, can get broken or come loose while you’re driving, which can cause your tyre pressure to drop.
If your tyre pressure drops quickly, it’s likely that a hole has been put in it. Even though tyres are made better now and can handle running over a lot of different things, they are not bulletproof in these situations.
So, if you hit a nail, a piece of broken glass, or some very sharp rocks, your tyre could get a hole in it.
Even if you don’t believe it, Mother Nature can make your tyres lose air pressure, especially when it gets cold. In fact, when the temperature drops just 10 degrees, the air pressure in your tyres can often drop by as much as two pounds.
So, on those cold winter mornings, before you leave for work or other places, you should always check your tyre pressure, especially if you are in the middle of a severe cold snap.
Lastly, if your car’s tyres aren’t lined up right with the wheel, the air pressure in them can go down. If something isn’t lined up right, air pressure will leak out of the sides. Immediately take your car to a mechanic if you think this is the problem.
Ways to Tell that Your Tire Pressure is Too Low
You can check your tyre pressure with a tyre gauge, but there are a few other ways to tell if your tyre pressure is too low.
First, feel your tyres to see if they are soft and squishy. Some things are better when they are soft and squishy, but your tyres are not one of them. If you put your hand on your tyre and can press down too much, your tyre pressure is too low.
A few pumps of air should fix the problem, though.
The next step is what is called the “eyeball test.”
It will take some time and practise to get good at this, but it can be very useful when you can’t find a tyre gauge.
Once your car is parked on a flat surface, look closely at the tyres from both the front and back. If any part of your tyres sticks out, it’s likely that they don’t have enough air and need to be pumped up.
Now that you know a lot more about tyre pressure, don’t ignore your tyres like so many people do.
If you keep them at the right pressure, you’ll get the most gas mileage out of your car and make it much safer to drive on the highway.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is 28 Too Low for Tire Pressure?
Yes is the easy answer to this question. If your tyres need at least 32 psi and now only have 28, that’s a drop of more than 12 percent. Even though you probably won’t notice much difference in how your car handles or brakes, it’s best to fill them back up to the recommended levels as soon as possible.
Is 35 Tire Pressure Too Low?
Most of the time, having 28 psi is too low, but having 35 psi is not. In fact, it is often thought to be a bit high for most standard passenger vehicles, even though most manufacturers recommend 32-35 psi per tyre. But if your tyre pressure is too high or too low, we say it’s safer to be a bit high on the road. Most of the time, putting a little more air in your tyres than you need won’t change how they wear or how your car drives.
Is 40 PSI Too Low?
When your tyres have 40 pounds of air pressure, it’s not too low; it’s actually too much of a good thing. At 40 psi, less of your tyre is touching the road, which makes it feel like you’re bouncing along. Also, it will wear out your tyres faster and could cause them to overheat, which could lead to a blowout or other accident.
Is 37 Tire Pressure Too High?
From what we’ve seen, a tyre pressure of 37 isn’t usually high enough to cause major problems with most vehicles. As we’ve already said, it’s better to have a little too much air in your tyres than to have too little. Under normal driving conditions, tire pressure increases about five pounds per square inch. In case you’re worried, a tire has to reach about 200 psi before it will explode.