Most drivers attribute loss of tire pressure to a leak. What they do not know is that there could be another contributor for the loss in tire pressure, the weather. When the temperature drops during the winter, according to physics, air contracts and the air molecules get closer together. Air contraction leads to reduction in volume which in turn leads to lower tire pressure which means your tires will be under inflated. When tire inflation levels change, it affects your ability to control the vehicle. There is nothing you can do about the weather, but understanding how temperature affects tire pressure, the dangers of driving with under inflated tires and knowing what to do about it makes sure you drive safely during winter.
How does cold winter affect car tire pressure?
As stated earlier, air in the tires will expand when heated and contract when cooled. As temperatures lower in the winter, tire pressure also lowers. While we advise our clients to check their tire pressure at least once every month, during winter we advise them to be extra diligent. This is because tires can be 30% under inflated before it can be visually notable.
What are the dangers of driving with under inflated tires?
Under inflated tires negatively affect car steering and handling and also significantly increase the breaking distance. Under inflated tires also cause irregular wear and tear on the tires resulting in your tires wearing out faster which will cost you more in the end. Also vehicles with under inflated tires get poor gas mileage when compared to cars with properly inflated tires. When the tire is under inflated, more tire surface is in contact with the road causing more rolling resistance which translates to higher fuel costs in the end.
Maintaining car tire pressure during winter
Now that you understand why your tires seem to loose pressure during the winter, learn how to maintain your tire pressure. Checking tires air pressure is a very simple thing, it only takes a few minutes and you are done. Understand that the closer the tire pressure is to the manufacturer’s suggested guidelines the better your car handling will be. Your tires will wear evenly and the longer the tires will last.
The temperature variations during the day can also affect tire pressure. The key to maintaining the correct tire pressure is to check the thermometer and then adjust the pressure accordingly. If the temperatures are high in the afternoon reduce the pressure if they are low especially in the night add the pressure. This is because of the large difference in the night and day temperatures.