Take the pres­sure down

Wheels (Australia) - - 2017 Wheels Tyre Test -

The tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor sys­tem might seem like a small fish in the ac­tive safety pond, but this sim­ple tech­nol­ogy helps take care of what Wheels’ tyre in­dus­try sources say is still a com­mon car main­te­nance over­sight. The check­ing of tyre pres­sures is a task even the most dili­gent of driv­ers can ne­glect to do reg­u­larly and, as our tests il­lus­trate, the im­pact of un­der-in­fla­tion on steer­ing, han­dling, brak­ing and safety is sig­nif­i­cant ( as is the ef­fect on tyre wear).

For nor­mal test­ing, each tyre was in­flated to 33psi cold, which is the pres­sure rec­om­mended on the Mazda’s tyre plac­ard. In the name of sci­ence, we sys­tem­at­i­cally dropped the front left tyre to 20psi, then the right rear tyre to 20psi, for a run through the slalom and brak­ing tests.

This was im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous from the driver’s seat, with Ren re­port­ing the un­der-in­flated front brought “heav­ier steer­ing feel and slower steer­ing re­sponse.” Look­ing at the fig­ures, the slalom time in­creased by seven per­cent with the low-pres­sure front and 14 per­cent with an un­der-in­flated rear, which might not sound a lot, but con­sider this: The dif­fer­ence be­tween the quick­est and slow­est tyre on the slalom was nine per­cent, mean­ing you gain as much or more swerve and re­cover abil­ity by in­flat­ing your tyres cor­rectly as you do by buy­ing high-qual­ity tyres in the first place.

The brak­ing dis­tances weren’t un­duly af­fected, but the fact that Ren ex­pe­ri­enced “lazy feel” through the left pedal and a front-end that “walked around” and “didn’t brake in a straight line” sug­gested the right pres­sures play a key part in brak­ing sta­bil­ity, too.

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