With the current unpredictable gas prices, fuel efficiency is more important than ever. One of the simplest ways to improve gas mileage and save gas is to keep your vehicle’s tires inflated to the proper tire pressure. This simple maintenance procedure can be easily performed and help to stretch each gallon of gasoline a little bit further, adding up to big savings over time.
Maintain proper tire pressure to save gas
Every vehicle has a tire pressure recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer. When tires are under-inflated, it creates resistance on the tire and forces your engine to do more work to move your vehicle, consuming more fuel. Under-inflated tires can also create wear on the rubber and affect your vehicle’s steering and handling, especially in poor weather conditions. Maintaining the correct pressure is an easy way to help keep your vehicle running at its best.
Experts predict that many vehicles on the road are operating with tire pressures 5-15 psi below their recommended inflation. The US Department of Energy estimates that a pressure decrease of 1 psi inside your tire can reduce your fuel efficiency by up to 0.4 percent. By maintaining the proper pressure, your fuel efficiency increases by an average of 0.3 percent, but up to 3 percent in some cases. Air can escape from tires over time, so frequently checking the air pressure is a simple way to improve gas mileage. For drivers operating in cold weather, checking pressure regularly is even more important; a temperature drop of 10 degrees Fahrenheit can reduce the pressure by 2 psi. If you last checked your pressure on a warm summer day, it could be dramatically lower when you’re driving in the dead of winter.
How to maintain proper tire pressure
Tire pressure gauges are inexpensive and small enough to fit in your vehicle’s glove compartment. Experts recommend checking pressure weekly. The recommended pressure for your vehicle is usually displayed on a sticker inside your driver’s side door or can be found in the vehicle’s manual. It is important to note that most tires have a maximum pressure written on them. When adding air to your tires, be sure to use the manufacturer’s recommendation and not the pressure written on the tire! While having underinflated tires can affect your vehicle’s performance, it is equally important not to overinflate them, since this can damage the tire.
When checking your pressure, try to have your car on a level surface. Check the pressure when the tire is cold and not after driving a long distance, as this can affect the pressure reading. Many gas stations have tire filling stations where you can add air to your tires. Typically, mechanics will check pressure and add air free of charge during routine maintenance. Another option is to inflate your tires with nitrogen, which leaks from tires more slowly than air. Many shops will offer this service for a fee.