The number one way tires affect fuel efficiency is through proper tire inflation. While we’ve recently enjoyed lower gas prices, according to many of the latest reports, gas prices will be anything but stable for the next few weeks. I don’t know about you, but no matter how low gas prices go, I’m always looking to be as efficient as possible.
I must confess that I used to inflate my tires to the number listed on my tire sidewall. Big mistake! Big! Huge! (Name the movie.) That number tells me the maximum level at which the tire can be inflated when at its highest weight capacity. For example, you’ll want to add some air to your tires if you pile on a few pounds of luggage or sporting equipment. The amount of air depends on the amount of weight. For most normal travel, however, inflate your tires to the air pressure found in your owner’s manual or on the sticker in your driver’s side door jamb. According to the US Department of Energy, properly inflated tires can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3%.
Tire inflation isn’t something you only check once either. As I mentioned, if your vehicle’s weight changes significantly, you’ll want to adjust it according to your manual. You’ll also want to check it monthly because as you drive on them, they lose air. For those of us in fluctuating temperatures, checking inflation monthly is key not only to fuel economy but also to safety. For every 10°F change in temperature, the air pressure of your tires can change by 1 psi, or pound per square inch.
You can always take your vehicle to your local dealer who will happily check your tire pressure. Who knew such a small task could be so important!?