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Up In The Air

By Dave Emanuel

If you’re like most drivers, you probably don’t have a clue about the air pressure in your vehicle’s tires. What is he ideal pressure? What is the actual pressure? When was the last time you checked?

Tire pressure has a significant affect on safety, fuel economy and ride comfort. Within reasonable limits, higher inflation pressures increase fuel economy, tire life and driver control, and decrease ride comfort. For most
vehicles pressures between 28-32 psi are ideal. Personally, I prefer the upper end of the range for a number of reasons. In addition to the direct benefits, higher pressure also provides more of a buffer between ideal and
undesirably low pressures.

All tires gradually lose air pressure, so sooner or later they’ll need to be reinflated to a specified pressure. If you start with higher pressure, the need to reinflate will come later, rather than sooner. But more isn’t always better. If pressure is too high, tread wear will increase and ride quality will suffer. Handling may also be adversely affected because over-inflation can reduce a tire’s “footprint”.

The days of free air may be long gone, but the need to keep an eye on tire pressures isn’t. It’s best to check pressure when the tires are “cold” (haven’t been driven for at least a few hours). If you don’t have a pressure
gauge, you can find inexpensive easy-to-read digital gauges in any auto parts store. And if you don’t have access to an air compressor, pay-to-fill inflators are available at most of the places selling gas.

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