You prepare for winter. That’s why you tuck a pair of gloves into the pockets of your heavy coat and check to make sure your tires have the right inflation for cold weather.
What? You didn’t know you needed to pay extra attention to tire pressure in cold weather? You do!
What’s Different About Tire Pressure in Winter?
It’s a scientific fact: when the temperature drops, air molecules slow down and become closer. When this occurs in and around your tires, it can affect tire pressure.
- Tires lose or gain 1-2 PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) for every 10ºF change in temperature
- That means your tires could lose 4 PSI over the weekend if the mercury drops 20º
- So, in cold weather, you’ll be driving on tires with lower pressure
Low Tire Pressure Shouldn’t Be Ignored
Why you should pay closer attention to tire pressure in winter:
- Increased stopping distance. Under-inflated tires can lengthen braking time and skid more easily on wet pavement. In winter, you can count on difficult driving conditions, so for your safety as well as those around you, make sure your tires are properly inflated.
- Poor fuel economy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2% for every 1 PSI drop in average pressure of all tires. Who wants to spend any more at the pump than they must?
- Decreased tire life. Under-inflation can leave your tires more vulnerable to damage and perhaps send you tire shopping sooner.
- Illuminated tire pressure light. No driver likes to see a dashboard warning light illuminated!
How Often Should You Check Your Tire Pressure in Cold Weather?
A decrease in tire pressure can be difficult for the eye to detect. Also, even if the temperatures remain consistently chilly for days at a time, the cold air can still affect your tire pressure in winter. That’s why the pros at Jiffy Lube® recommend you take the time to check your tires:
- When the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) warning indicator is illuminated
- Every time you fill your gas tank
Here’s How to Check Tire Pressure
1. Locate the vehicle’s recommended tire pressure. For most passenger cars, it usually falls between 30-35 PSI.
- The PSI for your specific vehicle can be found in the owner’s manual or on a placard attached to the driver’s door jamb, glove box, or fuel hatch
- If you can’t locate the information, just ask a trained Jiffy Lube® technician, who can access this information for you
2. Measure your tire pressure before driving, not after, for the most accurate reading.
- This is referred to as “setting the cold tire pressure”
- If the manufacturer recommends a tire pressure of 32 PSI, that means 32 PSI COLD, or before driving and the tires heat up
3. Use a tire pressure gauge, which can be purchased at most big box retailers, auto parts stores or online.
- “Pencil” style gauges, which are the least expensive, have a small stick that pops up with the tire pressure reading
- Digital gauges may be a bit more expensive but are extremely easy to use and more accurate
4. Remove the valve stem cap.
- This is the black, blue, green, or silver screw cap on your wheel’s valve stem; it should be plainly visible from the outside of your car
- Turn it counterclockwise to remove
5. Check the tire pressure. Follow the instructions that come with the gauge.
- If you hear a hissing sound, the tire gauge may not be properly seated on the valve stem; re-adjust the angle of the tire pressure gauge until the hissing stops
- Compare your reading against the specified PSI found above in Step 1
- If your tires need to be inflated, go to Step 6
- If the air pressure is higher than recommended, bleed off the pressure until the correct pressure is attained
6. Inflate your tires, if needed. There’s a good chance you’ll need to do this at least once this winter season. You can always bring your car to Jiffy Lube® to inflate your tire pressure in cold weather. With more than 2,000 locations, there’s sure to be a service center near you. Or you can easily do it yourself:
- Find your nearest air pump (most gas stations have an air pump station)
- Add air until you reach the recommended tire pressure
- Replace the valve stem cap by turning it clockwise
7. Repeat the inflation process for each tire.
- And don’t forget the spare! You want to ensure it is properly inflated if you need it.
Read More About It.
Have you ever wondered how long you can drive on a spare tire? Find the answer here.
Please note: Not all services are offered at each Jiffy Lube® location. Please check with your local Jiffy Lube® service center or visit jiffylube.com for specific services offered.