Schrader International, marketer of AirAware brand TPMS systems, components and tools, supports National Car Care Month this April with a reminder to drivers that proper tire inflation can help save fuel and wear on their tires. With properly maintained tires, the average driver could save as much as two weeks’ worth of gas every year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 27 percent of passenger cars and 32 percent of pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans have at least one significantly under-inflated tire. To make matters worse, many drivers erroneously check the tire pressure while the tires are still warm after recently driving the car.
Schrader urges drivers to check their tire pressure with a gauge at least once per month, and before any long motor trip. Tires should be inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations printed on the driver’s side doorframe or in the owner’s manual, not to the maximum limit stamped on a tire sidewall. To obtain the proper reading, drivers should check their tires when they are cold and haven’t been driven for at least three hours.
The U.S. Energy Department estimates that proper inflation can improve gas mileage by more than three percent with regular maintenance, since under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every pound-per-square-inch drop in pressure.
In addition to improving fuel economy, proper tire inflation is critical for safety, maximum tire life and proper vehicle handling. Under inflation increases the rolling resistance of tires, which increases fuel consumption and subjects tires to excess stress and heat, prime contributors to tire failure and blowouts at high speed. Under-inflated tires also wear out more quickly.
Properly inflated tires are harder and roll more easily, which improves fuel economy and extends tire life. Proper inflation allows tire treads to grip better in all conditions, including rain and snow. Properly inflated tires function with a vehicle’s suspension to provide maximum handling, steering and braking ability.
Schrader further notes that vehicles equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) can help motorists detect loss of tire pressure, since federal regulations require TPMS to warn drivers when tires are 25 percent under-inflated. However, TPMS units are NOT a replacement for monthly tire pressure checks with a gauge, since the warning may be too late to prevent premature tire wear and increased frequency of stops for fuel.
For more information about National Car Care Month, visit the Car Care Council website at www.carcare.org.