A simple, free safety check at your local petrol station could reduce your fuel bill – and potentially save your life, says Jeff Osborne, Head of Gumtree Automotive.
"It's estimated that at least a quarter of drivers have one or more under-inflated tires on their vehicle. This is not only dangerous, but wasteful."
Under-inflated tires burns off more fuel because it increases their rolling resistance. A study in Canada showed that almost 643 million litres of fuel is wasted each year simply because of improper inflation. Under-inflating your tires creates excessive heat build-up which can wear your tires down and even cause the tire to blow out.
"The other risk factor is weight. If your tires aren’t inflated properly, your car can't carry as much weight as before. It also makes it more dangerous to drive over potholes, or in adverse weather conditions, like flooding."
Tire checks are easy to do, even for the layman. Your manufacturer's handbook should provide a recommended measurement for your tire known as psi or bar. A car loses two psi of air per month, more in warmer weather. (The number provided on your tire only indicates the maximum amount of air your tire will hold.) You can test the psi of your car tires with a simple gauge, or ask your local garage to do it for you.
"Over-inflated tires are equally dangerous, because they wear unevenly and ride harshly. Some manufacturers recommend inflating tires unevenly for the front and back wheels, so take note of that."
Many modern cars have a tire-pressure monitoring system, but you still have to perform manual checks as these lights only come up when the tire is down 25-35% of recommended pressure.
"It's important to also pay attention to your tires' "wear bars". You will spot these when your tire tread is worn, which can cause you to lose your grip," says Osborne. "Make a habit of checking your tires every time you pull into a service station. It could save your life and relieve pressure on your wallet."