Tire pressure warning became a standard feature on all cars in 2005. However, the practice had already started trending a decade before. Tires are a necessity for driving. A car literally cannot be operated without tires. The maintenance of tires is uber important to the function it holds. Tires require balance with the right amount of air pressure, and the pressure warning feature informs the driver when the pressure is off.
Why is Pressure Important?
Simple, without the proper air pressure, the balance of the car will be off. Depending on the air pressure, the imbalance can cause the vehicle to redistribute weight to one side of the vehicle; leaving it vulnerable to the tire popping and may also cause accidents. Bottom line, it is just too dangerous to drive with low tire pressures. For this reason, the US government passed the Transportation Recall Enhancement Accountability and Documentation act back in 2001. The law requires that all automobiles must have a tire pressure warning device installed by the year 2007.
What Does Every Driver Need to Know?
The tire pressure warning is located on the information dashboard on all vehicles. It has a universal icon that looks like the letter “U” with an exclamation mark in the middle. You can search on Google or look in the car manual for the actual picture. Now, depending on the manufacturer, the tire pressure warning can be triggered anywhere as low as 15psi to 25psi (more on what this means and where you can find it later). When the warning sign comes on, don’t panic. Drive safely to the nearest gas station and check all your tires to see which one is low on pressure.
How do you Check the Tire Pressure?
As mentioned above, when the warning light appears, do not panic. Unless you feel one of the tires deflating (and trust me if your tire is flat, you will feel it and will not be able to continue to drive), you don’t need to pull over right away. Drive to the nearest gas station and check your tires. Most gas stations will have an air and water pump station. It is usually on the side of the gas station. Side note, this is an excellent reminder to keep a dollar or two worth of quarters in your car. Most gas station’s air and water pumps only accept quarters and exact change. If you live in a fancy area, the air and water pumps might take credit cards, but in all my driving life experience I have only seen one. So be sure to keep two dollars worth, just in case your tires need air and it is after hours. The pump station will have a tire pressure gage attached to the air pump hose. It is always a good idea to check all your tires. Here are the steps to take.
All tires have the necessary information printed on the tire. It is usually pretty easy to locate the information on the tires. Look for the information about the tire pressure, and it should include the air pressure measurements. If for some reason you can’t see it, you can Google the brand of the tires and find the information online. (example: between 30-35psi).
Unscrew the air cap on the tire. Tip: keep track of the cap. Losing them is easy.
1. Place the pump into the uncapped air whole. (A little air might come out, that's okay. If you have successfully placed the hose correctly, air will come out of the tire).
2. The pressure gage will then pop up and show the measurement of your tire pressure.
3. Press the pump to release air into the tire until the gage measures to the desired amount of air. Be careful not to overfill it with air that isn't good either.
While you are checking your tires, it is a good idea to see the condition too. If your tires are in the proper shape, you will see traction and thread. However, if your tires do not have any thread, or worse, are smooth, then you might want to get new ones. One way to keep your tires in good condition longer is to rotate your tires every 6,000-8,000 miles. Rotating your tires will even out the usage.
Although tire maintenance is significant for driving, the tire pressure warning is not a sign to panic. It can be fixed by adding more air to the tire. At the soonest convenience, drive to the nearest gas station and measure the air pressure with the air pressure gauge on the air and water pump station and fill up the tire with air accordingly. Remember to check the condition of your tires. When you purchase new tires be sure to ask the mileage life. Places that provide good auto services will also tell you if your car requires new tires.