This will be a series of articles that will hep you get the most out of your tank of gas. Our goal is to help you stop wasting dollars at the pump. We will be covering a range of topics teaching you what you can do to improve your fuel economy.
The quest for better fuel economy will cover a lot of ground, but it starts with one thing – your tire pressure. It’s one of the most easily missed of all the areas we’ll cover in this guide, and it’s one of the simplest and cheapest to rectify. All you need is a quality tire pressure gauge and about three minutes of time. It’s really that simple.
The Role of Air Pressure in Fuel Economy:
It’s quite possible that you’re unsure just what role air pressure plays in fuel economy. After all, your tires aren’t part of your engine, so it’s easy to neglect them. That’s a problem. Tire pressure truly is one of the most significant factors, and it works in two ways.
Low Pressure – Low tire pressure (below the automaker’s recommended PSI) makes the engine work harder to turn the wheels. The harder your engine has to work, the more fuel it will burn to go the same distance.
High Pressure – If your tires are overinflated, you don’t need to worry about low fuel economy, but you do face another problem. When tires are properly inflated, the tread surface meets the road evenly. When they’re overinflated, they bulge in the middle. This leads to premature wear in the center of the tread, and will eventually cause premature failure or replacement.
How to Set Tire Pressure:
The first step is to ensure that you have a quality tire pressure gauge – accuracy counts, as even just a pound or two one way or the other makes a significant difference. Find your manufacturer’s recommended PSI. Don’t look on the tire sidewall, though. That’s the max PSI rating for the tire, not your vehicle. Most vehicles have a placard located in the driver side doorjamb where you’ll find the PSI for the front and rear tires (it’s possible that these will be different numbers). Use that as your guide when checking tire pressure.
Check the pressure once per week ideally, but no less than once a month. And don’t be surprised if you notice that your tires slowly lose air. That’s natural, and not necessarily a sign of a leak.