With busy day to day life, the tyres on your car may be one of the last things on your mind. The only time you may give them a second thought is when something goes wrong, or if you have a car that shows you a warning when the air pressure is low.
If you’re driving your car without the correct tyre pressure, you’re leaving yourself at risk because you’re not in full control of your vehicle. You’re also wasting money, as tyres with the wrong pressure, either through over or under inflation, consume more fuel and can become worn much quicker.
What is the correct tyre pressure?
The tyre pressure for every car is different, so to find what is right for you check on the inside door on the driver’s side of the car. You should find a sticker which tells you what the recommended tyre pressure is for your car.
Alternatively, check in your car's manual. Do note that pressure is measured in either bars or PSI (pounds per square inch).
You can also find this information in your car’s manual. You’ll find the measurement is shown in PSI, which stands for pounds per square inch. Place the gauge over the valve stem of the tyre (where you put the air in) and press down to stop the flow of air coming out and you’ll get a reading of the pressure.
How to check tyre pressure
Checking your tyre pressure is relatively simple and is something that you can do by yourself. Most garages have a tyre pressure machine on the forecourt for you to use, perhaps for the cost of a pound or two. Alternatively, you can pick up a tyre pressure gauge in many garages and stores so you can always have one in your home or in your car.
Once you know what your tyre pressure is you’ll be able to find out if you need to put air in your tyres or not. This can help you to be sure that you are always riding on tyres that are properly inflated and safe for the road.
It's sensible to check them every few weeks, and particularly before a long journey. Some car manufacturers recommend you add a little more pressure when carrying heavy loads - check the manual or your door panel for details.
Check your tyre tread while you're at it
The legal limit for minimum depth tyre tread is 1.6 millimetres, across the central ¾ of the tread around the complete circumference of the tyre.
For safety reasons it is recommended that you replace your tyres before the legal limit is reached as stopping distances increase dramatically at this point.
Tyres have small bars, known as Treadwear Indicators, spanning the main grooves. They are usually around 5mm wide so are lower than the tread of a new tyre. Once the surface of the tread begins to wear to a similar level as the indicators it's is time to have your tyres checked, and probably replaced.
Alternatively, slot a 20p coin into the grooves of your tyre. The coin's rim is just under 3mm in width, so if you can't see it, you know your tyres have sufficient tread.
Check tyres for any damage or uneven tread wear at the same time. If you have a spare wheel in the boot, remember to check this as well as there's nothing worse than getting a puncture and discovering your spare is flat, or worse, unroadworthy.