Although it seems like a deceivingly simple solution, keeping the proper amount of air in your vehicle’s tires goes a long way towards preventing uneven tire wear, improving your tire’s lifespan and even boosting your gas mileage.
For drivers who want to take the ‘fill ’em and forget ’em’ approach, keep in mind that even with the highest quality tires, and no valve or valve stem leaks, truck tires can lose as much as 2 psi per month (approximately 1 psi for passenger tires) – even if the truck is in park the entire time! This is possible because the air molecules are tiny enough to diffuse through the rubber sidewalls of your tire, eventually causing a significant loss in air over time.
How does this cause irregular wear on my tires?
Let’s look at some numbers: Tires rotate about 500 times for every mile you travel, which by 100,000 miles means that each part of your tire’s treads have pushed against the pavement about 50 million times! Irregular wear happens because of uneven abrasion, which means you want your tires to meet the ground in a consistent way, which is helped when your tires maintain the same shape and are fully inflated.
How does my vehicle’s load affect tire shape?
Adding a load means adding weight to your vehicle and therefore pushing your tires further into the pavement. You want to maintain the ‘ideal’ shape of the tire by adjusting its inflation pressure to match the weight of the load, using a load and inflation table as a reference. It’s interesting to note that if you could see a cross-section of your ties, when inflation pressure is adjusted correctly for different loads, the cross-sections would be almost identical with tire prints keeping the same size and shape.
When you unload your vehicle, adjusting your tire inflation accordingly is not practical for most drivers, and you should never bleed pressure from a tire when it’s hot. You should wait until the truck has been parked for three to four hours, been sitting overnight and/or it’s been driven for less than one mile.
How close do we have to be to the load and inflation tables?
If you’re able to match the pressure specified for the load, it will slow tread-wear, and give you optimum gas mileage. It’s also extremely important to match this for dual assemblies, because any inflation mismatch greater than 5 psi results in two tires in a dual assembly that feature different circumference causing a drag between the smaller and the larger one. This speeds up tire wear on the tire with less inflation.
Information provided by Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC.