TECH: TORQUE SHOP #11
Tyre pressure is the subtopic of this second Q&A session in our three-part “tyre torque” series.
Is there an easy way to check tyre pressure? There are handheld pressure gauges, some of which have little digital displays, but many people find them too bothersome to use as they have to manually check all five tyres (including the spare).
Yet, not checking tyre pressures is criminal. Thankfully, there is technology to make the task easier. You can consider aftermarket tyre pressure monitors – from simple pressure warning caps on the tyre valve stems, to an electronic monitoring device. For Bluetooth gadget lovers, Fobo has an app-based system. When I changed my car’s tyres, the tyre shop pumped up all four with air pressure of 220 kPa (32 psi, according to the conversion table). Is this okay? Why is tyre pressure important and how often do I need to check it? There is no standard pressure setting for tyres. It varies according to the tyre size, weight of the car and suspension design.
Often, the tyre pressure recommended for the front is not the same as for the rear. Refer to the owner’s manual for recommended pressures for the front and/or rear tyres.
You will also find in it the recommended tyre pressures for times when you carry a full load of passengers and when you are embarking on a long-haul journey.
Take note that the tyre inflation specification usually refers to “cold” pressure. If you have been driving for some distance, the tyres would have heated up and you should increase the setting by about 10 to 15 percent.
The correct tyre pressure is essential for optimum all-round performance. That means dry and wet road grip,
NOT CHECKING YOUR CAR’S TYRE PRESSURES IS CRIMINAL.
braking, ride comfort, tread wear and fuel economy.
Motorists often pay little attention to tyre pressure. Observe the tyres of a car you are following. Often, you will notice bulging sidewalls, which means the tyres are under-inflated. This significantly increases fuel consumption and compromises grip. It also adversely affects steering precision.
Under-inflated tyres may, in some cases, improve ride comfort, but safety would be compromised.
Over-inflated tyres also result in a deterioration in performance. But as long as you do not exceed the recommended pressure by 20 percent, it is quite safe.
It is a good idea to check tyre pressure once a month. Refer to your car’s manual or the sticker on the driver’s door sill. My car is fitted with a tyre pressure monitoring system. It often shows some minor disparity in pressure. How crucial is it for me to get each and every tyre inflated to the exact and same pressure? A tyre pressure monitoring system is a useful feature that will warn of a slow leak, or uneven wear due to defective wheel alignment, which is detected through a change in overall diameter of the tyre. Whenever you notice a mild variation in the figures displayed, it would be prudent to observe if the trend continues and whether it is one particular tyre. While a 5 per cent difference is not critical, bigger variations should be checked without delay.
Keeping all four tyres to their specified pressure is a routine that should not be neglected. There are no rules as to how often you should check tyre pressure, but make it a routine to do it at least once a month if your car does not have an in-built monitoring system.
More of today’s new cars ought to be equipped with their own tyre pressure monitoring system as standard. NOVEMBER 2017