As the weather changes, so do the conditions of our cars.
One common issue that many drivers face as the weather cools is the tire pressure light coming on.
This can lead to a common question: “If I add air to my tires during cold weather, won’t that mean they will be over-inflated when the weather warms?”
Let’s dive into this topic and provide some clarity.
Why Does Cold Weather Affect Tire Pressure?
It’s important to understand why cold weather affects tire pressure.
As the temperature drops, the air inside your tires contracts, leading to lower tire pressure (see Charles’s Law). This is why your tire pressure light may come on during colder months.
Should I Inflate My Tires in Cold Weather?
Yes, you should.
If your tire pressure light is on, it means that your tires are under-inflated. Under-inflated tires can lead to poor vehicle handling, increased tire wear, and even tire failure.
Therefore, it’s crucial to inflate your tires to the recommended pressure, regardless of the weather.
Will My Tires be Over-Inflated When the Weather Warms?
While it’s true that air expands with heat, the change in tire pressure from cold to warm weather is usually not significant enough to cause over-inflation.
Most modern vehicles are designed to accommodate these changes in pressure.
However, it’s always a good idea to check your tire pressure regularly, especially when there are drastic changes in temperature.
How to Check Tire Pressure
Checking your tire pressure is a simple process that can be done at home with a tire pressure gauge.
These are inexpensive and easy to use.
Simply remove the valve cap from your tire, attach the gauge, and read the pressure.
Compare this to the recommended pressure in your vehicle’s manual. If it’s lower, you’ll need to add air.
Amazon offers a number of easy to use pressure gauges .
Where to Inflate Your Tires
It used to be that gas stations would have air pumps available for public use. Those aren’t so easy to find anymore.
If you have a regular mechanic, they will often provide free checks and add air, if needed, at no cost.
It can be handy to have a small portable inflator that you can plug into your car’s cigarette lighter/dc port. I keep one of these in my trunk and it has come in handy on several occasions (more often than not, to inflate the tires on my mower).
While cold weather can cause your tire pressure to drop, inflating your tires in cold weather will not necessarily lead to over-inflation when the weather warms.
Regularly check your tire pressure and adjust as necessary, regardless of the weather.
Remember, your vehicle is designed to handle these changes, and keeping your tires properly inflated is a simple way to ensure a smooth and safe ride.