Car Care Tips

Tips to keep your car on the road.

Maintenance December 5, 2014

How Does Cold Weather Impact Tire Pressure?

If you have lived in Northern Virginia the past few years, you’ve experienced the winter weather force Mother Nature can bring!

The first severe cold wave may lower the pressure in your tires, setting off your Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). The purpose of the TPMS is to alert you that one or more of your tires are under-inflated. This could result in unsafe driving conditions.

In most vehicles, the TPMS symbol is a yellow symbol that lights up on the dashboard in the shape of a tire cross-section (a horse shoe shape) with an exclamation point. Newer model cars have a tire pressure monitor built in for each wheel that constantly measures the inflation of that tire.

If your TPMS light illuminates, you or your repair shop should check your tire pressure. Driving on underinflated tires hurts your gas mileage, increases tire wear and could result in unsafe driving conditions like poor vehicle handling or a tire blow out. Your vehicle’s owner manual should indicate a recommended cold tire inflation Pounds per Square Inch (PSI).

When the temperature outside the tire changes, it will affect the pressure inside the tire. Cars sitting outside all night are more susceptible than those kept in a garage.

According to AAA, for every 10 degrees change in air temperature, a tire’s pressure will change by about 1-2 PSI. To prevent your TPMS light from coming on, check your tire pressure monthly, during the morning when tires are cold or parked for a minimum of 3 hours. Make sure all tires are at the PSI indicated in your owner’s manual. On many occasions, this information can also be found on a sticker fixed on either the door jamb of the driver’s side door, inside the glove compartment, inside of the gas cover or on the underside of the trunk cover. Once your car is in motion, friction causes the tire to heat up, increasing the pressure inside the tire.

Monitoring your tire air pressure will provide better handling, traction and durability.

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