Rubber Association of Canada

Rubber Association of Canada

October 05, 2010 10:04 ET

Be Fuel Efficient, Be Safe. Measure Tire Pressures Monthly

Measuring and maintaining proper tire inflation is a fuel efficiency and road safety essential

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 5, 2010) - Tire makers are reminding the thousands of Canadians getting set to hit the highways this Thanksgiving weekend to ensure their vehicles are fuel efficient and safe by making certain their tires are properly inflated.

Under-inflated tires use more fuel due to increased rolling resistance, and motorists who make a point of measuring and, if necessary, adjusting their tire pressures to the vehicle manufacturer's recommendation each month can protect themselves against unnecessary fuel bills. Depending on your driving habits, fuel savings from proper tire inflation can add up to hundreds of dollars each year.

An under-inflated tire wastes fuel because it does not roll as smoothly or as easily as it was intended. This means more energy is required overcome rolling resistance, increasing fuel consumption and harmful vehicle emissions. Fuel efficiency drops by about one percent for every five percent, or two pounds per square inch (psi), of under-inflation.

Under-inflation is also the most common cause of tire failure and can lead to delayed braking, steering or acceleration; not surprising since the air contained in tires supports about 95 per cent of a vehicle's weight.

Tires that are under-inflated have a smaller footprint, which weakens their grip. The result is reduced stopping, cornering and handling capabilities that worsen with the severity of under-inflation. Severely under-inflated tires can also fail suddenly due to extreme heat build up.

"Tire makers build exceptional performance into their products, but it is up to drivers to ensure that they properly inflate and maintain their tires so they perform as their builders intended," says Glenn Maidment, president of the RAC. "All it takes to optimize your tires' performance characteristics is a reliable tire gauge and five minutes each month to check that your tires are inflated to the vehicle manufacturer's recommendation."

How extensive is improper tire inflation? A national study, conducted in late 2009 for the RAC by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, found that nearly half of Canadian drivers (49%) roll on at least one tire that is improperly inflated and that 10 per cent drive on at least one tire that is under-inflated by 20 per cent or more – a potentially hazardous condition.

Perhaps the most disturbing findings of the study are that only 30 per cent of drivers in Canada measure their tire pressures monthly and 59 per cent rely on a visual inspection to determine if their tires need air. In fact, a tire can by under-inflated by more than 20 per cent and not be noticeable.

Here are some tire inflation tips for motorists who want the best performance and fuel efficiency from their tires:

  • Invest in a reliable tire gauge. The most accurate way to know if your tires need to be inflated or deflated is by measuring their pressure with a reliable gauge monthly.
  • Always inflate your tires to the vehicle manufacturer's recommendation. The right tire pressure by wheel position is listed on the vehicle placard, which is located on one of the vehicle's inside door posts, or inside the glove compartment or fuel door. Never use the tire pressure stamped on the sidewall. This refers to the maximum pressure a tire can contain under maximum load.
  • Always measure tire pressure when the vehicle has been stationary for at least three hours, or has not been driven more than two kilometres. Tires heat up when rolling, so if they are measured after driving more than two kilometres, the pressure reading will be inaccurate.

Tire makers recommend an easy, four-step approach to proper tire inflation:

Step One

  • Find the recommended inflation pressure for your tires on the vehicle placard. Check the owner's manual for its exact location.

Step Two

  • Remember to only measure inflation pressures when tires are cold.

Step Three

  • Use a tire gauge when measuring pressure. Remove the cap from the valve stem, press the tire gauge onto the valve and take the pressure reading.

Step Four

  • Add air until the recommended air pressure is achieved. If you overfill the tire, release air by pushing on the metal stem in the centre of the valve, then re-check the pressure.

Canadians can learn more about the fuel saving and safety benefits of proper tire inflation and maintenance by visiting

The 2009 Tire Inflation and Attitudinal Study interviewed 1,811 drivers in the fall of 2009. The results are considered accurate within ± 2.5 percent, 19 times out of 20.

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