As the weather gets colder, especially when it starts getting cold over night, you may notice the Check Tire Pressure light popping on. But, you may not need to freak out. At least, not yet. Once you’ve checked to make sure you don’t have a flat or a slow leak, the fix is usually pretty simple. Plus, you can blame it on the change in weather. Having your tires inflated too much or too little can affect how you drive. Air pressure, handling, gas mileage as well as your tire’s life can all take a hit if the tires aren’t properly inflated.

You should be checking your pressure every month or so and before big trips, just to make sure everything is fine. But, if you put off checking your tire pressure until the light popped on, here are a few tips to keep in mind while you check.

Tire Pressure

Best Time to Check Tire Pressure

The best time to check your tire pressure is in the morning, before you drive anywhere. The recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) is based on a “cold” tire. That means a tire that hasn’t been warmed up by driving more than a mile, sitting on hot pavement, warmed in the sun or by rising outdoor temperature.

The reason your tires are now a little low is because the air in your tires contracts when it gets cold. It’ll expand again once spring and summer weather come back. Tire pressure usually drops by one or two PSI for every 10 degrees the temperature drops.

It’s best to keep your tires inflated to the PSI the vehicle manufacturer suggests. That’s usually written on the driver’s side door jamb and in the owner’s manual. That may be a different rating than what’s listed on the tire. That rating is the maximum amount of air that tire can hold and you can usually find it on the wall of the tire.

Tire Pressure

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