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All You Need to Know About Tire Pressure

The importance of tire pressure for commercial vehicles

Your trucks work best when they're properly maintained, and a vital part of any fleet maintenance program is taking care of your tires. To correctly maintain tires, you need to understand tire pressure. When tires are inflated accurately, fuel efficiency is optimized, both the driver and truck are protected as best as possible, and the load is supported correctly.

Checking tire pressure

You should check the tire pressure on a regular basis—at least once a week for vehicles that don't hit the road every day, and take the pressure daily for a truck that is on the road every day.

Proper inflation depends on the manufacturer's recommended pressure. Consult your manual to know exactly what the recommended tire pressure is and under what circumstances it may need to change. There are applications that call for a slightly higher PSI—hauling heavier than normal loads or driving through extremely rough terrain—but the recommended tire pressure works for most situations.

To know what the pressure is accurately, you'll need to use a tire pressure gauge. To check pressure:

  1. Remove the valve caps
  2. Place the tire pressure gauge on the valve stem—make sure to press firmly until you no longer hear air escaping
  3. Read the gauge and compare the reading to the recommended PSI

You'll need to make sure your tire pressure gauge is properly calibrated and isn't damaged to get an accurate reading. Brand new pressure gauges are only accurate to plus or minus (+/-) 3 PSI. A tire with actual pressure of 40 PSI could be read as 37 PSI from one gauge and 43 with another. Dropping a tire pressure gauge can make it is inaccurate by as much as +/- 5 PSI. You can calibrate your tire pressure gauge against a master gauge. A gauge needs to be calibrated every time you inflate, rotate, or change your tires. If you don't have a master gauge, stop by one of Tredroc's convenient 21 Midwestern locations. We'll make sure your gauge is giving your accurate readings.

Always check tire pressure in a consistent environment. 68º F is the optimum temperature to check pressure. Never check the pressure for a tire that has just been driven. The reading will not be accurate. If you have to check pressure after driving, wait at least three hours before doing so.

Dangers of improper tire inflation

Both over and under inflating your tires can cause issues. Over inflation can lead to irregular wear down the center of the tire tread and can cause blowouts. Under inflation is a more common problem that leads to excessive wear on tire shoulders, weakened side walls, and structural failures.

It's more than just the structural integrity of your tires at stake here though. Improper tire inflation means your truck needs to work harder just to move. This extra effort negatively affects your fuel economy. You can improve your overall gas mileage by 0.6% by simply keeping your tires properly inflated.

What to do if your tires aren't properly inflated

In the event of over inflation, simply remove one of the valve caps to let out some air. Check the tire pressure again and remove more air as needed.

If your tire is underinflated, you will need to remove it from the vehicle and place it in a tire inflation safety cage to re-inflate it. You can find OSHA approved tire inflation cages right here at Tredroc. OSHA regulations state that any tire operating at less than 80% of its recommended pressure must be taken off the road and re-inflated.

Tire pressure basics

While important, checking tire pressure isn't difficult. Here are the basics:

  • Check tire pressure regularly—at least once a week and always before taking a truck out on the road.
  • Use a properly calibrated tire pressure gauge.
  • Keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer's recommended PSI.

If you're unsure how to check tire pressure, whether your pressure gauge is calibrated right, or if your tires need to be inflated, come to Tredroc. We will take care of all your commercial truck tire needs. We also offer 24/7 emergency service, if you need help with a tire emergency.