The cold weather can have a number of negative effects on your car, from freezing your fuel lines to reducing your battery power if you drive an electric vehicle. Some of them are more obvious than others and the average driver would have no problem spotting a problem when it arises (like unusually misty or damp windows) but other issues could take a little bit more of an investigation to uncover. One such thing that you should learn to keep an eye on is your tyre pressure. How does the wintry weather affect your vehicle’s tyre pressure and what can go wrong if you don’t regularly maintain it? Let us explain.
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What Happens To My Car’s Tyre Pressure In Cold Weather?
When the cold weather arrives, your vehicle’s tyres will begin to feel their pressure drop in line with the reducing temperature. The colder the weather becomes, the lower your tyre pressure will drop. Tyre manufacturer Continental suggest that the ‘rule of thumb’ is that for every 10 degrees celsius the temperature decreases, tyre pressure will also decrease between 0.07 to 0.14 bars, or 1 to 2 pounds per square inch.
Is It Better To Have Lower Tyre Pressure In The Winter?
No, it’s probably never a good idea to leave your tyre pressure on the low side, but doing so in the winter could be especially risky. Inadequate pressure levels in your tyres can have detrimental effects on the vehicle’s performance and your ability to control it, greatly increasing the danger involved in even simple manoeuvres like an emergency stop.
What Are The Risks Of Not Maintaining Tyre Inflation In Winter?
If you attempt to drive on underinflated tyres, particularly in the winter when the weather is going to be poor and the road surfaces will likely be slick with rain or ice, you will suffer from an increased stopping distance when braking, poor turning and less responsive handling in general.
You will also find that you’re burning through fuel faster than you should be, with reduced fuel efficiency a consequence of running on underinflated tyres. Plus, not only will you be spending more money on petrol or diesel, you could also end up wearing through tyres at an accelerated rate and have to turn to your spare. Keeping them at the ideal pressure will not only keep you safe, it’ll also save you money.
How To Check And Adjust Your Tyre Pressure For Winter
Need to know how to adjust your tyre pressure? Whether you’re on summer tyres or winter alternatives, we’ve outlined the process, step by step, down below so take a look through our guide before you head to the pump:
- Find your ideal PSI – The PSI you’ll need should be listed on the inside of your fuel hatch, on a sticker stuck to the door frame, or if all else fails, inside the vehicle’s handbook.
- Measure cold – If you want to ensure an accurate reading, check your initial tyre pressure when the vehicle has been stationary for a while. This will allow you to record an accurate reading when they are cold. Heated tyres will display a different reading.
- Unscrew the valve stem cap – This should be clearly visible if you closely inspect your tyres and simply needs unscrewing.
- Insert the nozzle – Attach the air pump nozzle to the open tyre valve stem and pull the trigger gently to allow air into the tyre.
- Watch the reading – Keep an eye on the reading on the screen to ensure you don’t overfill the tyre. If you do, let some air out.
- Rescrew and repeat – Screw the cap back on and repeat the process on the other wheels that need their PSI adjusted.
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