It’s a common scene to find yourself driving across town, going to the grocery store, work, or school, and out of nowhere, your car starts telling you that it’s running low on tire pressure. On the list of car problems you could have, tire pressure can rank pretty low, but it’s still a problem you should be aware of and know how to fix. Knowing what to do when the low tire pressure light comes on is a good bit of information to have and can save you some headaches.
What Causes Low Tire Pressure?
There are a few things that can cause your tires to lose pressure, from the obvious to the scientific.
If the rubber is punctured, your tire will lose air pressure. Your tires are rotating hundreds of times per minute, so whatever pierces your tire doesn’t necessarily have to be sharp. Anything on the road runs the risk of stabbing through your tire.
Sometimes, your tire can leak air by running into a pothole. The sudden jolt can release air from your tires without puncturing them. Even the act of driving can lower your air pressure, as the air will steadily leak out over time.
When exposed to cold temperatures, air condenses, and when that happens, the air covers a smaller area. What this means for you as a car owner is that during winter, your car’s tires will have a lower pressure due to the cold air.
Your Car Says Low Tire Pressure, What Next?
There are a few different ways to handle this, so we’ll cover the basics.
Know Which Tire Needs Air
Many modern cars have a display that tells you which tire is in need of air, but if you have an older model, you’ll need to manually check each tire with a pressure gauge. Pressure gauges can be found in the automotive section in just about any local superstore.
Check That the Tire Isn’t Punctured
Look over the tire to see if there’s any visible damage to it. Be careful of running your hand along it; your hand might get punctured by the same nail that got your tire.
If There Is a Puncture…
If you do find a nail stuck in there, it’s a good idea to throw on the spare tire. You never know if your tire can hold air long enough to get to an auto shop; the tire might blow completely on the drive over.
Fill It Up
But, hopefully, if there isn’t a puncture, all it takes to fix the issue is to fill up your tire at a gas station air pump. Sometimes, air pumps are free; most times, they charge about $1.50. Make sure to fill the tire up to the PSI that it says on your car’s VIN sticker.
If air keeps leaking from a tire, you may need to find a tire shop to have it replaced. Faulty tires can give you all sorts of problems in the long term.