Smith Tirepressure003AIR ON THE SIDE OF SAFETY

Under-inflated tires cause a big hit on vehicle performance, safety and fuel economy; over-inflation is no better

By Bruce W. Smith (Special to ProPickup)

Today’s vehicle owners are concerned more than ever about improving fuel economy and vehicle safety. Surprisingly, an alarming number of us are driving around in vehicles and towing trailers that have one or more tires dangerously under-inflated.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found during an in-depth study a few years ago that 40-percent of light-trucks and 27-percent of cars were driving around with at least one tire that is under-inflated by 8psi or more of the recommended tire pressure indicated on the vehicle’s door placard.

Under-inflated tires causes the edges to wear faster than the center of the tread face and the constant flexing from being under-inflated overheats them, further shortening tire life.

Under-inflated tires also give fuel economy a hit; for every 1psi all four tires are under-inflated, there’s a .4-percent drop in fuel economy. Tirepressure005

So, driving around with tires under-inflated by 8psi is cutting your vehicle’s gas mileage by more than three percent. Over the ownership of the vehicle, that adds up to a lot of money ate up at the gas pump.

The same is true for trailer tires. I’ve walked around job sites and noted the same type of percentages apply to equipment trailers as well as their tow vehicles.

Keep all trailer tires inflated to the pressure indicated on the sidewall. Nothing accelerates tire problems faster on a  trailer than under-inflated tires. – Bruce W. Smith