Why Do Tires Lose Pressure in Cold Weather: Detail Guide
Are you living in a region where the temperature gets pretty low sometimes? Well, in that case, you might have noticed that the car is not driving smoothly on the roads in those weathers.
Ever wondered what causes it? As the temperature of the environment drops, the tires lose the ability to retain the recommended pressure. And that is why the ride might not feel as smooth as before. Also, you might even get an alert from the TPMS system.
Now, when it comes to why do tires lose pressure in cold weather, it is a bit controversial. Some people think that the weather has nothing to do with the tires' air pressure, while many believe otherwise. That is why we are here to debunk the truth. So, keep on reading if you want to know all about the topic.
The Theory: The Cold Makes Your Tire Lose Pressure
You might already have heard that science states that substances such as plastics, metals, and other materials expand during heat and contract when the temperature is exceptionally low.
Well, the same case is applicable for air too. And as you know, the tires contain air. So, it is bound to exhibit the same characteristics as other materials, right? But some people believe otherwise. In order to unravel the truth, we aim to answer a few key questions, which we will do in the following segments.
Does the Weather Change Your Tire Pressure?
First and foremost, let us start with the basics. And yes, the weather does affect the pressure of the tires. However, that answer might seem a bit vague. Instead, the actual answer would be that the drop and rise of temperature affect the tire pressure.
In fact, with every 10 degrees drop in temperature, the tire is bound to lose 1 PSI of pressure. Likewise, when the weather is hot, the air molecules tend to heat up exceptionally fast when you are driving on the hot paved road. In that case, the air molecules collide with each other at a rapid speed.
Due to those collisions, the air pressure among the molecules rises, which eventually makes the total PSI inside the tire rise up. And when it is cold outside, the molecules cool down and do not like to collide with each other. That puts less strain on the tires and makes them look like they are deflated.
So, when your TPMS light goes up, and it shows alert during the cold temperature, it is basically because of the nature of the air molecules. The air did not actually leak. Instead, the PSI level inside dropped because of the molecules cooling down and not making collisions.
Can I Prevent My Tire from Losing Pressure?
It is a bit complicated. Do you know why? It is certainly not possible for you to change the nature of the air molecules and prevent the tire from losing pressure. However, you can follow some steps to ensure that you are driving safely during the cold temperatures.
As you know by now, driving a vehicle when the air pressure is low can be pretty dangerous. You will lose control over the car and can end up in an accident. And basic vehicle maintenance can go a long way in terms of preventing those accidents.
So, you would have to ensure that the tires are at optimal pressure before you drive the car in the winter. The TPMS light should glow up when the pressure is low or high. Additionally, you can do a manual check-up of the air pressure using a tire pressure gauge as well.
Generally, the recommended air pressure will depend on your car. In general, the recommended pressure range is from 30 PSI and 35 PSI. And this rating is also recommended for the winter.
That being said, you should check the pressure once a month. These monthly check-ups will give you a fair idea of when the tires start to lose pressure and when you need to inflate them. But during the harsh winter days, check the pressure once every week.
What to Do if Tire Loses Pressure?
Before you do anything, you need to ensure whether the tires really did lose pressure or not. Even though most of the cars have the TPMS, we would still recommend checking the pressure manually. The TPMS is not really that reliable on some of the car models.
As we have mentioned, tires with low air pressure can cause some serious road accidents. For that reason, we would recommend taking the pressure readings seriously, especially during the winter days. Once you are sure that the pressure is lower than the recommended rating, opt for filling the tire up again.
In this case, you can use a portable air compressor. There are options that go around for $50, which means you will not even have to break your wallet in terms of getting one of these. But if that is not possible, rely on the local air compressors available at the mechanic shops.
What Happens if I Leave My Car Tire Low?
We have mentioned earlier that leaving the tire pressure at a low level can be dangerous. And during the winter days, the low tire pressure can cause severe road accidents. There will be a high chance of the tires hydroplaning on the ice and sliding everywhere. You will basically lose control over the vehicle.
Furthermore, the braking will not feel responsive. It will take a good amount of time to put your vehicle on a complete stop. Also, the tires will not be able to grip the terrains properly when the pressure is low. That means the fuel economy will see a dip too.
How to Get Winter Tire Pressure Right?
As mentioned above, the air recommended air pressure for the tires is from 30 to 35 PSI. However, this will highly depend on the model of the car. So, to get the exact PSI, you would need to go through the owner's manual. Check the "tire pressure" section of the manual and find out the recommended PSI rating.
The recommended air pressure that you will find on the manual is applicable year-round. That means the pressure needs to remain the same throughout the winter as well. So, if you check the pressure and it is lower than the recommended PSI rating, fill it up with an air pump.
Furthermore, we would highly recommend checking the air pressure at least once a week. If possible, check the pressure twice a week. And maintain the recommended tire pressure accordingly.
To conclude, if you are still wondering why do tires lose pressure in cold weather, it is because of the nature of the air molecules. And as it has a direct connection with the temperature, check the pressure regularly during the winter days to avoid any of the dangers related to low tires.