Ensuring that your car tires are inflated to the correct pressure is something that you should be checking all year round. What you may not realize though is that the ambient temperature of the air can have quite an effect on your tires.
While many people will know the correct pressure range of their tires in normal conditions, many really do not know what should tire pressure be in summer as well as what is the effect of weather on car tires and why is it important to understand those facts.
The first question we need to address is "Why does summer make any difference anyway?" After all, tires come with their recommended pressures from the manufacturer, so why does it make any difference at all whether it is a grey cloudy day or if the sun is beaming down from a blue sky?
Well, it is because your tires are full of air, which is basically a type of gas or rather, it’s actually made of a whole range of gases such as oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. For simplicity sake though, let's just call air a gas because that is the critical thing here.
Tires are full of gas and gas expands when it gets hot. That simple fact is the reason why it is essential to adjust your tire pressure in warmer weather such as during summer.
But know you know why this is the case, the next question has to be how can this information be used in a practical manner? The answer lies in a summer tire pressure rule that everyone should know!
It’s more a rule of thumb than an actual written law but generally speaking, the pressure inside your tire will increase by one PSI for every 10 Fahrenheit increase in temperature during the summer. The average USA summer will see a temperature increase range of 50 Fahrenheit. That means that during the height of summer, your car tire may be five PSI higher than it would be during cooler weather.
That is quite an increase considering that the average car tire has a recommended pressure of about 30 PSI. You must also take into account the fact that the pressure can increase by another five PSI during the initial 20 to 30 minutes of driving. That is quite a range of pressures for the tire to deal with!
Why does this make a difference though? Why should you be down on your knees with a tire pressure gauge on the hottest day of the year, measuring your tire pressure instead of lying down with a cold drink?
Maintaining correct tire pressure is essential because it improves the performance of your car. By performance, we don’t necessarily mean speed, but rather fuel efficiency. Keeping an eye on your tire pressure can lead to a bit of extra money staying in your pocket over the long term.
More importantly than that though is safety. A tire inflated to the correct pressure will be handled better. That means that steering is crisper, and braking is more effective. Both factors can help prevent car accidents.
There is also the issue, as we mentioned above, that in the summer, the pressure inside a tire increases, so over-inflated tires are more likely to suffer catastrophic damage such as a blowout.
So now that you know why tire pressure changes can occur during the summer and why you must keep an eye out for them, the next question is, of course, how do you do that? The best advice we can give is to monitor your tire pressure along with the weather. As the sun comes out more and the mercury starts to rise, take the time to check your tire's pressure before any trip, especially a long one.
A tire pressure gauge would be a great investment. These little tools are cheap and easy to store in the car glove box or a door-mounted storage bin. Use it to quickly and frequently check the tire pressure, and if you notice it increasing above the recommended ranges, just let a little air out of the tire to compensate. Of course, when the weather cools, remember to top up the air again to maintain the correct pressure.
So, what should tire pressure be in summer? The answer is that the pressure should be the same as at any other time of the year.
The trick, of course, is to ensure that you help the tire to do this. That will require regular checks and adjustments, not just at the height of summer when air may need to be "bled" out but also at the start of fall, when the air may need to be topped up. The payoff for this investment of time is a safer and more efficient car, so it really is well worth the little bit of time and money that will be required.