How to Check Tire Pressure

We talk about it a lot here at because it’s important. Let’s review the what, where, when, why & how of tire pressure.

What is Tire Pressure?
In simple terms, tire pressure measures the amount of air in your tires.

Why Tire Pressure is Important.
Too little air, and your tire will go flat. Too much air, and your tire can explode! Either is bad. Underinflated tires also have an increased chance of damage or failure. Your safety depends on tires that are in optimal contact with the road.

From a fuel efficiency standpoint, according to the US Department of Energy, properly inflated tires can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3%!

When to Check Tire Pressure.
The basic recommendation is that you check your tire pressure every month. For every 10°F change in temperature, the air pressure of your tires can change by 1 psi, or pound per square inch. So if it’s warm when you check your tire pressure and then it gets cold the next day, your tires may already be underinflated.

Where to Find the Right Tire Pressure.
So how do you know the right pressure? Something that may come as a surprise is that it’s not on the tire’s sidewall. No, that’s the maximum amount of pressure, which only comes into play if your vehicle is weighed down more than normal. To find your optimal tire pressure, check your vehicle owner’s manual or the placard in the driver side’s door jamb.

How to Check Tire Pressure.
Luckily, new vehicles are equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, or TPMS. In fact, all light motor vehicles sold after September 1, 2007, have to have one, thanks to the TREAD Act.

This system is designed to tell you when your tires are underinflated. Underinflated tires will wear out faster.

So how do you check tire pressure? There are a few ways, and they all involve a tire gauge.

You can either buy your own — there are some pretty fancy digital tire pressure gauges on the market — or head on over to your local gas station.

How to check tire pressure at the gas station:

  1. Pull up next to the air pump.
  2. Be sure to know your desired tire pressure. The default is usually 32 PSI, but you’ll want to change it to whatever your vehicle needs.
  3. Unscrew your tire cap.
  4. Insert the hose into your tire and it’ll start filling.
  5. When it reaches the set PSI, it’ll start beeping. That’s when you’re done!

You can always take your vehicle to your local dealer who will happily check your tire pressure.