In the winter, drivers are generally mindful of how frigid temperatures can lead to under-inflation. But what about summer heat and the risk of over-inflation? When it comes to summer tire pressure, it’s just as important to mind your PSI.
Between June and August, many Canadian communities are scorching hot, bringing the thermometer upwards of 30 C day after day. And even on days that don’t break records, the ambient air temperature can have an impact on your tire pressure, to the point that your vehicle’s safety and handling can be compromised.
HOW DOES WARMER WEATHER IMPACT SUMMER TIRE PRESSURE?
Just as cold outside air causes the air inside your tires to contract in winter, warm outside air causes the air inside your tires to expand. The rule of thumb (best understood as our American counterparts put it) is that tire pressure will go up approximately one pound per square inch (PSI) for every 10 Fahrenheit increase in temperature. So, let’s say your manufacturer’s recommend inflation level is 35 PSI, on one of those all-time hot August afternoons, your tire pressure could be somewhere near 40 PSI.
Here’s another bit of math: Driving equals friction between the road and your tires equals heat equals…you guessed it…an increase in tire pressure. For this reason, regardless of the weather, your air pressure can increase about 5 PSI in the first half-hour of driving before stabilizing. In the sweltering heat of summer asphalt at high speeds for long stretches, that number can rise, and not for the better.
How do those summer tire pressure increases impact the performance of your tires?
WHAT DOES INCREASED TIRE PRESSURE MEAN FOR YOUR TIRES & YOUR RIDE?
If your tires’ air pressure increases to the point of over-inflation, in certain conditions you could be at risk of:
- Premature wear
- Poor handling
- Poor traction
- Uncomfortable driving (bouncing)
- Tires overheating
- Tire blowouts
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO TO AVOID SUMMER TIRE PRESSURE OVER-INFLATION?
1. Check your tire pressure regularly
Daily if you’re on a summer road trip, and again, when your tires are ‘cold’ (in the morning when they haven’t been driving for a few hours). Read our 5 Step Guide to Checking Tire Pressure.
2. Be sure you’re inflating to the recommended air pressure
Not the maximum. You should find the manufacturer’s recommended pressure on a sticker in the door jamb. Read our post The Right Tire Pressure: Why the Maximum Isn’t the Best.
3. Don’t let air out of your tires
At least not on your own and not while they’re warm. If you think your tires might be over-inflated, have a professional tire technician inspect them. Letting out too much air when tires are ‘hot’ could leave you with under-inflated tires in the morning, and that’s not safe either.
Want to make sure your tires are properly inflated and enjoy your summer drive with peace of mind? Visit one of our Kal Tire locations near you for a FREE air pressure check AND #FreeAir!