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How do I … Check my tire’s air pressure

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Ensuring your tire is properly inflated is important for a number of reasons. Not only will it result in a smoother ride, but proper tire pressure also results in, for example, better fuel efficiency and smoother steering. Both Michelin and Bridgestone, two major tire manufacturers, recommend you check your tire’s PSI (pounds per square inch) every month to ensure they are properly inflated.

On its website, Bridgestone offers a comprehensive and useful guide to checking tire pressure. It recommends you start by grabbing a piece of paper and mapping out your vehicle, identifying the front and rear left and right wheels. Then, using your owner’s manual or the information located in the door jab on the driver’s side of your vehicle, mark down what the recommended PSI is for your front and rear tires.

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Both companies advise you check your tire pressures only when they are “cold,” meaning they have not been used in at least last three or driven less than 1.6 kilometres (equivalent to a mile). Begin by removing the valve cap from the tire you are checking and placing the pressure gauge on the valve and pressing down until the hissing sound stops. The gauge will then give you a PSI reading that you should write on the piece of paper next to the corresponding tire. You then repeat the process on your vehicle’s other tires (and don’t forget to check you spare).

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Michelin recommends that you invest in a good tire pressure gauge. Depending on the model you purchase, the pressure gauge will either give a digital readout or, in the case of the pencil-shaped gauge, will feature a bar that moves upward with measurement units etched on its side.

Once you complete all the wheels, you can use an air compressor to fill your vehicle’s tires to the correct PSI. If you do not have one at home, many gas stations have them available for public use for a fee. You fill each tire by placing the hose over the valve stem and pressing the hose’s lever. Once you fill the tires you should check your PSI again. If you over filled your tires, you simply let some air escape and then recheck the reading. Do not drive on overinflated tires, Bridgestone warns, as overinflation can result in decreased traction, premature wear and decreased impact absorption.

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One note: if you drove more than the recommended 1.6 km to the gas station to fill your tires, the wheels won’t be “cold.” Bridgestone recommends you “set their pressure to 4 psi (14 kPa) above the recommended cold inflation pressure” and then you recheck your tire pressure once they are “cold” again.

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