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Tire Inflation and Winter Driving

Winter Tires
Photo: iStockphoto

We've talked about how important winter tires are to driving safety, but tire inflation can play just as important a role.

According to Transport Canada:

"[Tire] underinflation increases rolling resistance, which reduces tread life and increases fuel consumption. It can also lead to sudden tire failure. Without enough air, the sides of a tire bend and flex too much. This builds up heat, which can cause serious damage. Operating a vehicle with just one tire underinflated by 56 kPa (8 psi) can reduce the life of the tire by 15,000 km and can increase the vehicle’s fuel consumption by 4%."

In the winter, cold temperatures cause tires to lose pressure, leading to underinflated tires. Stay on top on your tire pressure with these tips:

  1. Have a good tire gauge. If your vehicle doesn't come with one, you can pick one up at most car supply shops. It's a handy tool to have in your glove compartment.

  2. Not sure what pressure is correct? Check your owner's manual to find the optimum recommended pressures for your vehicle.

  3. Measure your tire pressure at least once a month (with the gauge, not by eyeballing it).

  4. When refilling your tires, be careful not to overinflate them either. Overinflation causes your car to ride on the centre of your tire tread, so that less of your tire is making contact with the pavement. This is especially bad in winter, when you need your tires to get a grip - plus, it increases wear on your tire and suspension.

  5. Don't forget to put the cap back on the tire valve after refilling your tire. This tip seems ridiculous, but it's apparently a common problem!

If you're serious about getting the best out of your tires, be sure to check out our tire expert John Mahler's posts on our Ultra 94 Facebook page.

And for more info on tires and tire safety in general, see our post When The Rubber Hits the Road or visit Transport Canada's website.

- Rose R.


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Thanks for all the helpful info!

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