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MPG Tip: Checking Tire Pressure

You probably know that under-inflated tires waste gas. But did you know that by keeping your tires properly inflated, not only will you avoid a loss of fuel economy, your vehicle will also benefit from better handling and more even tire wear.

If you’ve ever had to replace tires early, due to excessive wear on the edges of the tread, there’s a good chance you’re an under-inflater.

Checking your tire pressure isn’t tough, once you learn the ropes. All it takes is a trusty gauge, five minutes, and an air hose.

There are scores of tire pressure gauges on the market, ranging from inexpensive pencil-style gauges, through easy-to-read digital gauges, and precise old-school mechanical gauges.

You’ll often – but not always – find a vehicle’s recommended tire pressure inside the driver’s door. Or it might be inside the gas filler flap. If all else fails, check the owners manual.

Tire pressure isn’t one-size-fits all. Some vehicles have different tire pressures from front to rear. Pressure recommendations can vary depending on load conditions.

The figure shown on the tire sidewall represents the maximum pressure for the tire. Avoid filling up to this pressure. You usually want to use the manufacturer’s recommendation for your specific vehicle.

While some service stations have air pumps that will fill to a specific pressure, other stations have a simple hose.

Start by checking the pressure, then add air if necessary, and check again. If the pressure is still low, you’ll need to add more air. If the pressure is too high, you’ll need to bleed some air out of the tire and check the pressure again.

With most inexpensive gauges, bleeding excess air can be hit or miss.

Look for gauges with a built-in bleeder valve. Bleeder valves make it a cinch to bleed the pressure down to the correct level.

Digital gauges are easy to read. Onechange.org has given away over one hundred and sixty thousand digital tire gauges, with the goal of reducing fuel consumption, saving money, and decreasing exhaust emissions. As they say at One Change: simple actions matter.

Some new cars come with automatic tire pressure monitoring systems. These can be quite handy, although they do add cost and complexity. We’ll tackle that topic in the next video.

Whether you keep a tire pressure gauge in your glove box, in the tool box, on your key chain, or have a built-in system, get in the habit of checking your tire pressure every so often … and try to do so in the morning, for the most accuracy.

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