As the temperature gets colder, driving becomes increasingly difficult and less safe than in warmer weather. This means it’s a more important time than ever to ensure your car is as safe as can be. As well as the usual winter preparation such as ensuring your screen wash is topped up and your lights are working, it is important to keep an eye on your tyre pressures as well.
If you don’t use all-season tyres, it is always recommended to switch to winter tyres as the temperature drops. Summer tyres begin to lose grip as the rubber hardens at temperatures below 7°C, whereas winter or all-season tyres remain supple and grip better.
Regardless of what kind of tyre you opt for, as the temperature is changing be sure to check your tyre pressures. Changes in air temperature cause the air inside the tyre to condense – taking up less space in the tyre. For every 10 degrees change in temperature, tyre pressure is affected by around 1PSI. This may not sound like much, however many of us who don’t check our tyre pressure regularly may not have checked theirs since summer when the temperature was much warmer. We recommend checking your tyre pressures on a monthly basis, at least.
If your vehicle has TPMS you may have had the vehicle warn you of decreased tyre pressure. Though once the tyre warms up after driving, the TPMS warning may disappear. Again, this is due to the tyre generating heat, warming and expanding the air inside. However, tyre pressures are best checked when the tyres have cooled.
It is a common myth that reducing air pressure in tyres improves traction when driving on snow or ice. This is NOT true and can in fact make driving more difficult as well as damaging the tyres themselves.
If your tyres are not at their optimum or recommended pressure, you may experience compromised handling, increased tyre wear and it could even lead to tyre failure – especially if you are driving with heavy loads or multiple passengers. The optimal pressure for your tyres is usually found on the door check or fuel cap of a vehicle – if you cannot find it here it will be available in your owner’s manual.
For more information on checking your tyre health, read this article.