How Often to Check Your Car’s Tire Pressure

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Because of weather fluctuations and regular wear and tear, you should check your car’s tire pressure at least once a month.
Tires are constantly losing pressure, and knowing when and how to check your tire pressure is an important skill for every driver.
The car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry breaks down everything you need to know about checking your tire pressure and how to safely adjust the air levels in your tires.

How often should tire pressure be checked?

The average driver should be fine with checking their tire pressure once a month. However, certain conditions cause a car’s tire pressure to fluctuate more than usual. Knowing the factors that contribute to these pressure changes can help you avoid an untimely incident. 

Cold weather

One of the main factors that affect tire pressure is temperature. When exposed to cold weather, the air in your tires begins to move around less, and the air contracts, making the pressure go down. 
If you’re traveling somewhere cold, be sure to check whether the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) light turns on at any point. This light indicates that your tires are at least 25% below the suggested tire pressure. To avoid any damage to your vehicle, pull over to correct the difference in pressure. If you don’t have a portable air pump, most gas stations have air pumps available.

Hot weather

Heat has the opposite effect—when exposed to hot weather, the air in your tires begins to move around more and expand, making the pressure go up. Although the fluctuation in hot weather usually isn’t as extreme as in cold weather, keep an eye on your TPMS light to be sure the pressure doesn’t exceed the suggested range.

Punctures

Loose shrapnel from the road can get embedded in your tire and cause changes in your tire pressure, and it may not be immediately noticeable. If you feel a strange catch in your car’s wheels or you feel unusual resistance, turn on your warning lights, pull over to the side of the road, and check your tire pressure. Be sure to make sure you’re in a safe area before you pull over.
Continuing to drive for a long distance will worsen the loss of air, and in extreme cases, you may even damage your wheel axis if you don’t address the problem.
Key takeaway: Be sure to check your tire pressure when dealing with extreme weather or possible punctures.
For most vehicles, the recommended tire pressure can be found on a sticker on the inside of the driver’s side door. The number listed will be measured in PSI, or “pressure per square inch.” Most tires require a pressure of 30 to 35 PSI.
If you can’t locate the recommended tire pressure on the inside of your car door, your car’s owner manual should include the correct number. Alternatively, you can Google the model of your car and look for the recommended tire pressure.
You might notice that there’s a tire pressure number printed directly on your tires—however, this is the maximum tire pressure for the tires, not the recommended tire pressure for your car. You should not set your tires to this number. Be sure you have the right number before trying to adjust your tires’ pressure.

How to check your tire pressure

An air pressure gauge can be used to check your car's tire pressure. Tire pressure gauges come in three basic types: manual, digital, and analog. To properly check the air pressure in your tires, complete the following steps:
  1. Remove the valve stem caps. Valve stem caps are the small pieces of metal or plastic that cover your tires' valve stems. Removing all four caps at once will make it easier once you check the pressure of your other tires.
  2. Use the tire pressure gauge. Make a tight seal, pressing the open end of the air pressure gauge to the tire's valve stem. If you hear a hissing sound, readjust the angle of your pressure gauge until there is no air escaping. 
  3. Check the readout. Check the readout to determine the amount of air pressure in the tire. How to access the readout will vary depending on the type of pressure gauge. 
  4. Check the gauge. Record the PSI of each tire separately, being sure to note whether each one is above or below your vehicle's recommended pressure. To be prepared in case of an emergency, check the air pressure of your car's spare tire, too.
  5. Replace the valve stem caps. After you've recorded the pressure of each tire, immediately replace the valve stem cap. If any of the valve stems are leaky, this will ensure that no extra air escapes from your tires.

Inflating your tires

If you need to add more air to your tires to meet the recommended tire pressure, you’ll need access to an air compressor. Air compressors can be found for free at nearby gas stations, or you can buy one to use at home.
To inflate your tires, remove the valve stem caps and connect the air hose nozzle to the valve on each tire. Make sure you don’t hear any hissing, which would indicate that air is escaping. Most air compressors come equipped with a built-in pressure gauge, so watch the gauge until the number reaches the recommended pressure for your vehicle. 
Once the pressure has reached the correct level, remove the nozzle and replace the valve stem caps. 

Releasing air from your tires

To release air from your tires, you can use the same air pressure gauge you used to check your tire pressure. Press the opposite end of the gauge into the center of the tire’s valve stem. You should hear the sound of air coming out.
Do this gradually, checking the tire pressure from time to time. You don’t want to let too much air out at once! Keep going until you reach the correct PSI for your vehicle’s tires.
Key takeaway: Use an air compressor at a gas station to inflate your tires or you can use an air pressure gauge to release air from your tires.

Why you need roadside assistance

Knowing how to check your tire pressure is an important part of car maintenance, but sometimes fixing the tire pressure is not enough. If you find yourself stranded and need more help, roadside assistance is an invaluable addition to your car insurance package.
To learn more about roadside assistance plans, start your search with Jerry. In less than a minute, Jerry can help you find an insurance policy that includes roadside assistance—and at a great price.
For as low as $4.16 a month, Jerry’s roadside assistance membership connects you with their nationwide network of 55,000+ service providers. The Jerry app even gives real-time updates of the service vehicle’s position, similar to Uber, so you’ll never have to wonder when help will arrive!
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FAQs

You can usually find the recommended tire pressure printed inside the driver’s side door. If you can’t find it there, try checking the owner’s manual or Googling your vehicle model.
You can find a free air compressor at a gas station or tire shop. Alternatively, you can buy your own air compressor to use at your home.
Yes and no. If a customer purchases gas, all gas stations are legally required to provide free air and water. The air is free, though the gas is not.

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