When heading out on a road trip, you should do a pre-trip inspection. Of course, you’ll double-check that you’ve packed everything you need, but you should have a checklist to ensure your vehicle is ready to hit the road. And don’t forget to check the tire pressure.
Some travelers may wonder if checking the tire pressure is needed before every trip. Can’t you go a few weeks without using your tire gauge? Let’s look at why it’s important to check your tire pressure consistently.
Table of Contents
- How Often Do I Really Need to Check My Tire Pressure?
- How Do I Check Tire Pressure?
- How Do I Know If My Tires Need Air?
- How Do I Know the PSI of My Tires?
- What Tire Pressure Is Too Low?
- What Tire Pressure Is Too High?
- Is It OK to Drive with Low Tire Pressure?
- What Happens If I Put Too Much Air in My Tires?
How Often Do I Really Need to Check My Tire Pressure?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Our recommendations are based on the severity of danger that a tire issue will cause. In general, the heavier the vehicle and trailer the more dangerous a tire failure will be. Thus with heavy vehicles checking tire pressure is more critical.
In a car a flat is less likely to cause a severe accident, However, you should still check the tire pressure about once a quarter at the very least. You also want to check the tire pressure after a sudden temperature change. Cold weather will drop the pressure. Its also a good idea to check tire pressure any time you are going to make a long trip.
You should check the tire pressure before every trip with a heavy load like a Class A motorhome or large trailer. Some travelers will also continue to check it throughout the day as they stop at rest areas.
If you drive back-to-back on a long cross-country journey, check the tire pressure each morning before you head out. Tire failure on a heavy load like an RV can be dangerous. Although monitoring the tire pressure isn’t 100% guaranteeing protection, it decreases the likelihood of something catastrophic happening on the road.
How Do I Check Tire Pressure?
First, you need a quality tire gauge. Do not try to save a few bucks and buy a cheap one. You need it to read accurately. Always check tire pressure before starting. You want the tires to be the same temperature as the air outside.
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When you start to travel, the tires will heat up. This is normal and expected. Tires expand from the heat of the friction of the road. If you check tire pressure after driving a few miles, you’ll get a false reading because you’ll think they have a higher PSI than they actually do.
When you see a tires rating on the side and it says (COLD) this means before you drive on them.
How Do I Know If My Tires Need Air?
Your car truck or RV manufacturer will post the recommended inflation pressure on a sticker or print it in your manual. This determination assumes that the owner will load the vehicle to full capacity, not exceeding the cargo carrying capacity or GVWR.
If you don’t know this information, you can find a number indicated on the sidewall of the tire. This is the minimum pressure required to achieve the tire’s maximum load rating. Check your tire pressure. If you have underinflated tires, put in enough air to get them to the max cold pressure listed on the tire’s sidewall.
Pro Tip: Choosing the correct tires for your RV is key to a safe and successful journey. Here’s how to Avoid Buying the Wrong Type for Your Camper.
How Do I Know the PSI of My Tires?
To check your tire pressure you need to find the PSI. PSI is the proper pounds-per-square-inch level of your tires. The higher the PSI, the more air that’s in the tire. This means it will be stiffer. Different tires have different PSI levels. For example, the tires on your Honda Civic won’t run as high as the tires on your 42 ft fifth wheel.
The manufacturer prints the recommended PSI on the sticker inside the driver’s side door in standard vehicles. The RV manufacturer will print this information on a sticker or in the owner’s manual.
The sidewall of the tire will also give the max PSI. After checking your wheels with a tire gauge, you’ll know if you need to add air before leaving.
What Tire Pressure Is Too Low?
You can look at a few factors to determine low tire pressure. The weight of the load and your speed matter. For example, if you have a 30 ft travel trailer that weighs about 9,000 lbs, you don’t want tires only rated to carry 1,500 lbs each.
Tire inflation charts will provide the most accurate numbers for your tires. Most tire manufacturers can provide you with an inflation chart that can be used to determine the proper inflation at different loads. You may need to weigh your vehicle to determine the pressure needed.
Generally, cars run around 40 PSI, with 30 PSI considered the low end. Trucks run higher pressures because they carry heavier loads. Typically, they run around 80 PSI, with 60 to 70 PSI being low. Motorhomes, Busses, Semis, and larger, heavier fifth wheels run between 100 and 120 PSI with a wide range of acceptable inflations based on load. For these vehicles weighing them is important to determine PSI.
This is why it’s so important to check the tire pressure when cold. If your tires only have 105 PSI, but you don’t check them until you’ve pulled over at a rest stop 100 miles down the road, they’ve heated up and may read 120 PSI. You get a false reading thinking they have enough air when they don’t.
What Tire Pressure Is Too High?
You don’t want to overinflate your tires. The max cold pressure on the sidewall of the tire is the limit. If you go above that reading, you’ll want to release some air before traveling. Remember, as you travel, tires will heat up due to the friction of the road. This is normal and expected. Don’t worry if your PSI goes 10% to 20% above the max cold during travel.
A tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is a great investment. This device checks your tire pressure and temperatures while driving. If there’s a sudden increase or decrease, then pull off the side of the road and check the tires. But if the pressure and temperature slowly increase as you drive, you don’t need to worry.
Pro Tip: Ready to buy a tire pressure monitoring system? We found The Best RV Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems on the market!
Is It OK to Drive with Low Tire Pressure?
It’s dangerous to drive with low tire pressure. Your tire can blow out while going 65 mph on the interstate, damaging your vehicle. Pieces of the blown tire can also cause an accident.
When you run on low tire pressure, more of the tire meets the road’s surface, which means extra wear and tear. You’ll end up having to replace your tires sooner than necessary. You also increase the chances of picking up a nail, screw, or other debris that can easily puncture your tire when underinflated.
What Happens If I Put Too Much Air in My Tires?
Maintaining the correct pressure level in your tires is essential to safe travel. Too little inflation causes your vehicle to pull to one side, while over-inflation can cause a blowout. Improper inflation also leads to decreased fuel efficiency and added wear. Good tires are expensive, and so is fuel.
When you purchase a vehicle, you’re spending a lot of money. Take care of your investment. Get to your destinations safely. Buy the equipment needed to take care of your tires properly. Is there anything you need to grab at the store? Do you have an accurate tire pressure gauge, portable air compressor, or TPMS? How often do you check your tire pressure?
Keeping your RV tire pressure up is critical to staying safe on the road. Here are 10 More Camper Towing Rules You Should Never Break.
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