With hotter weather and brutal heat waves becoming more common, the pressure in your vehicle's tires goes up. After all, heat causes air to expand, and the air in your tires follows the laws of physics. Overinflated tires can reduce your vehicle's traction, cause a hard, punishing ride and make your tires wear out faster; all are important safety issues.
Four out of every ten drivers rarely check tire pressure. Some rely on their vehicle's tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to keep an eye on proper tire inflation. But it's not designed to do that.
TPMS is a safety feature that has been required on vehicles made in 2008 or later, using sensors in the wheels that alert you to tire pressure problems. That warning can be a light on your dash, a digital message or a readout of the pressure in each individual wheel. But a study showed that more than 40 percent of drivers don't even know what the tire pressure monitoring light symbol looks like!
One looks like a horseshoe with an exclamation point in the middle. The other looks like an overhead view of your vehicle with the tires at all four corners. They may even show the inflation number (usually in pounds per square inch, or PSI).
The TPMS is designed to alert you that your tires aren't inflated within certain parameters, but the system shouldn't be a substitute for frequently having your tires checked with a tire gauge. A TPMS light is only required to come on when a tire is 25 percent under the recommended tire pressure; by that time, you're driving on an unsafe tire and causing excessive wear.
Have your vehicle checked regularly by our professionals, and that includes tire pressure checks. If you do see the tire pressure warning come on, have our service center look at it soon. You may have a tire with a problem or the TPMS system may not be working right.
Either way, since your tires are the only contact your vehicle has with the road, your safety depends a great deal on your tires being in top shape and correctly inflated. Keep your tires properly inflated and your TPMS working to alert you of any problems. And that's not just a lot of hot air.
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