One thing that gets really abused during our daily commutes are the tyres of our cars. Considering the condition of the roads, and Pakistan’s weather, they really take the beating. And most of the times, they are one of the most neglected part of our automobiles, whether car, motorbike or even heavy loaders.
One aspect of maintaining your car’s tyres is keeping a check on their air pressure. Considering the fact that tyres are constructed with rubber and steel belts, you need optimum air pressure for them to perform at their best. Every car and tyre manufacturer comes with the instructions of what are the best tyre pressure amount for your car and tyres. Cars usually have a small sticker on the frame of the driver side door that contains the information regarding the tyre sizes and recommended air pressure. If you are getting aftermarket tyres, they also have inflation limits stamped on them.
You can either underinflate (less air pressure than recommended) your tyres or overinflate (excessive air pressure than recommended) them. Both scenarios have their adverse effects on your car and our driving experience.
First we will look at the effects of keeping your car tyres underinflated. Let us suppose your car’s recommended tyre pressure is 30 PSI, but you are keeping the pressure to 20 PSI or below, you might have a relatively comfy drive since not all of the roads bumps will transfer to car and then you, but you run the risk of seriously deshaping and distorting your tyres and in worst case, a complete tyre failure. Modern day OEM General tyres of your Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic are radial and steel belted. Running them underinflated for prolong periods can prematurely damage those steel belts inside your tyres, which will result in wobbly ride and improper surface to surface contact between tyres and the pavement. When you keep the tyres underinflated, the sides of the tyres keep the maximum contact with the tarmac, but the center for tyre doesn’t grip the road to its full potential. The center of the tyre buckles inward hence reducing the tyre to road contact and maximum braking capability of the tyre. This also accelerates the aging process of your tyre’s rubber compound, making it unsuitable and unsafe far sooner than you would expect them to be. Less air also makes the tyres heavy to rotate, hence increasing your car’s fuel consumption as well.
The second case is if you overinflate your car tyres, that is filling them with air more than what is prescribed by either car manufacturer or the tyre manufacturer. First and main problem here is again the tyre to tarmac contact. Overinflating them would make the tyre’s contact surface rounder, rather than what it should be; flat. This will reduce the contact area of both inner and outer sides of the tyre with the road, hence reducing the braking capability of your tyres. Another point of concern is that you run the risk of blowing up your tyres if you run them for long when overinflated. Air expands inside the tyre, hence increasing the pressure inside. So if you already have more air inside the tyre than what is recommended, and you are traveling on motorways at high speed and specially if ambient and road temperature are also high, the air inside the tyres with expand drastically, and that can lead to a very hazardous circumstances. Blowing up your tyres on high speed is no fun at all.
Maintaining tyre pressure to the recommended PSI will not only ensure better driving experience, but will also prolong the life of the rubber. You will save on not only the tyres and the fuel, but also in terms of your car’s suspension repairs. Since suspension of the car is in direct contact with the tyres, it bears the brunt of the misused tyres, the most. Proper tyre pressure can prevent you from spending money on things that wouldn’t have needed to be repaired/replaced in the first place, had you been a bit careful.
Purpose of this article is to educate our readers, not just about the financial costs of mistreating their tyres, but also the fact that under or over inflated tyres can lead to more something much more fatal (you can end up in a tree or a ditch and die, to put it plainly!!).