How to Correctly Inspect Your Car's Tires

AAA has just launched a new hints-and-tricks blog. Today? How to Correctly Inspect Your Car's Tires

Checking Tire Pressure

Before checking your tires' air pressure, you'll first need to determine the automaker's recommended inflation. Measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), you can find this information either in your vehicle's manual or driver's-side door jamb decal. Do NOT use the PSI listed on the tire itself, as this is the maximum amount of air pressure it can safely hold.

Because cars weigh different amounts, there's no single "universal" PSI for tires. A heavy car, for instance, will likely require tires with more air pressure than a lighter car. The increased weight places additional stress on the tires, so the automaker recommends a higher PSI inflation to counteract this phenomenon.

There are three different tools that you can use to check your tires' air pressure: a digital PSI reader, a dial PSI reader, and a pen PSI reader. Although it's more expensive, the digital ones offer the most accurate reading. Some gas stations and convenience stores may also have on-site pressure gauges, although they are prone to failure due to heavy use.

To check your tires' air pressure, remove twist off the valve cap and place the gauge over the stem, holding in firmly in place so no air escapes. Now, look at the gauge to identify your tire's PSI, cross-referencing this number with your automaker's recommended PSI. If your tires are underinflated, allow some of the air to escape by removing the gauge. If they are overinflated, increase the PSI to the automaker's recommended level by using an air machine.

Check out 'Checking Tread Wear' right here right now for instructions on how to correctly do the Abe Lincoln Penny Test.

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