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Fact or Myth: Do Car Tires Lose Pressure in the Winter?

on November 20, 2020
flat tire 1 - Fact or Myth: Do Car Tires Lose Pressure in the Winter?

Fact or Myth: Do Car Tires Lose Pressure in the Winter?

on November 20, 2020

Unless you live in the hotter parts of the United States, you will likely experience cold temperatures and weather during the year. These temperatures can cause some dangerous situations on the road.

One of the best things to do to protect yourself from the road hazards of winter is to make sure your tires are full and properly pressurized. However, some say that there is one time of year that is harder to keep up with this than the rest.

It’s said that the cold weather during winter is responsible for diminishing tire pressure for your car. This controversial issue has divided people for years, and no one can see to understand why.

The Theory: The Cold Makes Your Tire Lose Pressure.

Science says that substances such as metals, plastics, and other things expand in the heat, and contract in cold temperatures. This goes for all things and seems to be the reason why some people are questioning. 

There are a few questions that we aim to understand.

  1. Does this theory also extend to air, and more specifically, the air inside of your tires? 
  2. What is the recommended tire pressure in the winter?
  3. What are PSI and TPMS, and how can they be used to help with low tire pressure in the winter?
  4. What can be done to prevent underinflated tires?

Let’s look deeper into this theory and see if it holds any truth to it.                                                                                                               

Does The Weather Change Your Tire Pressure?

The answer to this question is yes. The winter does affect the tire pressure of your car tires. For every 10 degrees the temperature drops, the pressure in your tire drops by 1 PSI (pound per square inch).

When it’s hot outside, the air molecules in your car tire heat up and rapidly collide together. This causes pressure to be built up due to the collisions that are constantly happening with the hot molecules and the tire itself. 

When the temperature drops during the winter, it causes the molecules in the air to cool down and contract, much like with other substances. This puts less strain on the tire, and causes the look of a low tire.

This is what causes your winter tire pressure to be considered low and look underinflated during colder temperatures. If your warning lights go on as the temperature drops, you will have an idea as to what might be happening.

Can I Prevent My Tire from Losing Pressure?

While your tires losing pressure is not something that you can prevent, it should be mentioned that there are steps you can take to make sure that you are driving safely. Driving with even slightly low-pressure tires can cause a wide variety of dangers that you could have been able to avoid otherwise.

Basic vehicle maintenance can help to ensure that your car keeps you safe while driving during the winter.

Make sure to take initiative and make sure that your tire is full before the tire pressure light comes on. The TPMS light, or Tire Pressure Monitoring System light, has a minimum tire pressure that the tire can have before the warning light turns on. While during the rest of the year that might be fine, it’s still dangerous in the colder months.

The recommended tire pressure year-round depends on your car. Generally, a basic model 4 door sedan should have a tire pressure of between 30 and 35 PSI. This also goes for the winter, but be aware that you might need to fill your tires more often when the weather is cold.

Checking your tire pressure monthly is a good idea throughout the year. This is beneficial because it will give you an idea of when your tires will start to lose pressure. After the initial winter tire fill, it’s a good idea to check 1-2 times a week, and put air in your tires when necessary. 

What To Do If Your Tire Loses Pressure

At the first sign of low pressure, try to fill your tire with more air. Tires that are low on air pressure can cause some very dangerous situations at any time of year. When it comes to freezing temperatures and road hazards, however, you are at an even greater risk. 

As previously stated, checking your tires 1-2 times a week after the initial fill-up will help to make sure that the tire remains at a safe pressure for driving. Making sure your winter tire air pressure is correct is the safest thing you can do for yourself.

What Happens if I Leave My Car Tire Low?

If your tire pressure is too low, especially in the winter, you can be putting yourself in harm’s way. The chance of hydroplaning and sliding on the ice during the Winter is doubled. Your car’s ability to break accurately is dramatically decreased. 

There are also some general, year-round issues of a lower fuel economy and a possibility of ruining the rims on your tire. 

Having inflated tires is part of car maintenance and is the safest thing you can do for free to make sure that you are safe while driving. Check your car owners manual, or the manufacturer recommendations stuck located inside of your car doors, in order to see the proper inflation for your tires.

Protect Yourself No Matter Where You Are

Winter is a dangerous time of the year to be driving in general. Make sure that you are safe and protected in your car by checking your tire pressure regularly. If you notice your tire pressure consistently getting low, you may have a leak.

If you have a feeling that the low tire pressure in your car is more than just the winter leaving its mark, make sure that DriveSmart is on your side. DiveSmart Warranty has an extended warranty for your car and will make sure to protect you in case it is something worse.

With roadside assistance, rental assistance, and trip interruption, you don’t have to worry about anything but getting your car fixed up. When your car breaks down or needs a tow, DriveSmart will make sure your car –and wallet– is protected. 

Author: Brooke Lazar

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