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Basic Tips on How to Inflate Your Car Tires

  • Cars Explained
  • Xavier Sabastian
  • 4 minutes

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‘Cookies and milk. Ink and pen. Table and Chair.’ Some things go together, like checking the air in your car tires and inflating them to the recommended tire pressure. There’s a compelling motive to do so. Driving on underinflated tires can result in risky handling, tire degradation, and decreased gas consumption.

Car maintenance is not necessarily something that only your mechanic can perform. Inflating car tires is one of the most specific skills to acquire. Eventually, your tires will require inflation due to normal wear and tear.


The following sections discuss why and how to inflate your tires properly.

Determine the correct tire pressure for your car

Unlike a balloon, inflating a tire to the proper level is difficult to observe, but you can test your tire pressure with a tire pressure gauge. These come in various forms, but their operation is generally identical.

Once you have determined the tire pressure you need to inflate, you can check the driver’s side doorframe to determine the proper tire pressure for each tire (measured in psi). Most tires are rated for optimal performance between 32 and 35 psi.

Additionally, do not overinflate your tires, as this can reduce your contact with the road, reducing your traction. Avoid underinflating your tires, as this will negatively impact fuel economy and accelerate tire wear. 

Cannot find the pressure in your doorframe? Do you have an older car? Check your owner’s handbook or a label in your glove box, gasoline filler flap, or trunk lid for the psi.

When you drive, your tires heat up, which increases the psi. So check on them first thing in the morning, when they are still pretty cold. You can also check them after your car has been idling for a while or been driven only a short distance.

How to inflate your car tires

How to inflate your car tires

Once you know the correct tire pressure, inflating your tires is easy.

  • Remove the tire stem cap from the tire that requires inflation.
  • Please turn on the air compressor at the gas station or your own and ensure it is blowing air before using it.
  • Attach the head of the air compressor to the tire stem; gentle pressure will be required to inflate the tire.
  • Utilize the air compressor to inflate the tire. If the tire is being filled with air properly, you should hear a faint whooshing sound. 

The air compressor will rapidly inflate the tire, requiring approximately one second per pound-force. Therefore, it is best to inflate your tire in bursts of 3 to 5 seconds and then check the tire pressure with a tire pressure gauge until you reach the correct psi for your vehicle.

Properly inflating your tires ensures that your car has the best grip and traction on the road, effectively contributing to your safety.

What happens if you drive on tires with too little air in them?

What happens if you drive on tires with too little air in them?

Pounds per square inch are used to measure tire pressure (psi). The car manufacturer gives you the recommended tire pressure or psi to get the best performance every time you drive. This includes ensuring the tires are comfortable and last as long as possible.

Deflating your tires to make them softer can make your ride smoother and give you a bigger area of contact with the road. But not without giving up something.

When a tire under-inflated by as little as six psi hits a pothole, it is more likely to get damaged. When the tire pressure is low, the center of the tread bows in a bit, making the tire ride on its edges. The inner and outer shoulders of the tire wear out faster than they should. The softer sidewall of an underinflated tire can make your car sway more when you turn a corner, which could cause a top-heavy car to flip.

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