Taking a look at how temperature affects tire inflation


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — If you had to go anywhere today, you may have noticed your tire pressure light coming on this morning. There’s a good reason for that, and it’s not necessarily due to an air leak.

Your tire’s air pressure reading can be a good indication of how cold it got between our highs and lows, and it’s also a great example of how air temperature affects air pressure.

When the temperature drops, air molecules become less active and group closer together. In an enclosed space like a tire, that means a decrease in the pressure exerted on the tire itself. Typically, a tire loses 1 to 2 PSI for every 10 degrees that the temperature drops. As you drive, the friction between the tire and the road will help heat that air up, allowing you to recover at least some of that lost pressure. An end to whatever cold snap we may have will also help to some extent.

Regardless, if your tire pressure light is on, it’s highly recommended that you get that checked out quickly. Under-inflated tires can lead to poorer fuel economy, more wear on your tire, and less traction which leads to a need for more stopping space and time.

Even if your light is not on, it’s still a good idea to check your tire pressure before you head out as cold winter days and night get closer.

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