CHECK tires once a week at the garage or before driving off, and rotate tires every 5,000 kilometers.
These are one of the few tire care tips from Marc Tagle, whose family has been in the tire business for more than 60 years. He currently heads Philippine Allied Enterprises Corporation (PAEC), the official representative and distributor of Bridgestone tires in the Philippines.
Naturally, checking tires before driving off requires a tire gauge and Tagle recommends an analog type instead of digital.
“I prefer actually an analog one, sometimes the electronic ones are not so accurate,” he said, adding that tire pressure should be checked at least once a week.
The reason why tires should be checked before driving off or when they are “cold” is tire pressure increases as a vehicle is driven.
If a motorist fails to check tire pressure before he or she hits the road, the rule of thumb is to add one to two psi (pounds per square inch) to the standard psi after the vehicle accumulates a few kilometers.
While there are vehicles that have their recommended tire pressures placed on stickers, there are some vehicles that surprisingly do not have their recommended tire pressures stated even in the owner’s manual. If that is the case, Tagle said, a tire pressure of 32 psi is recommended.
“Off the back, a safe inflation pressure accepted by most is around 32 psi,” he added.
“When you take it [tire pressure]cold, for example in the garage, it’s 32. Then you drive four kilometers and assuming it causes the tire to heat up, that will probably read maybe 33 or 34 [psi],” Tagle added.
A higher tire pressure is also recommended over a lower tire pressure for safety and to achieve better fuel economy.
“Because a higher tire pressure will keep the temperature inside the tire more stable. If you have less air, the heat inside the tire builds up more and this can lead to failure sometimes, irregular wear and faster wear,” Tagle said.
And surprisingly, tires cannot entirely seal off air leakages and this necessitates a slightly higher tire pressure to avoid the tires running on low pressure just in case a vehicle owner fails to check tire pressure once a week.
“When you look at a tire, there are tiny, tiny holes that will somehow make the air seep out slowly,” Tagle said.
Also, running with a low tire pressure will result in the engine exerting more effort to get the vehicle running. Handling is also affected.
“If they [tires]are soft, imagine how much effort the car has to exert. Remember when we get a flat tire and when you try to steer it, isn’t it heavy?,” Tagle said.
He added motorists can also use nitrogen to inflate their tires.
“Racecar drivers maintain the proper tire pressure, that’s why they use nitrogen. The composition of nitrogen keeps the temperatures much lower [inside the tire],” Tagle said.
Nitrogen also does not seep out of the tire the way ordinary air does. Nitrogen inflation costs P50 to P100 per tire.
Although maintaining tire inflation can assure better fuel economy and extend tire life, there are occasions when increasing the tire inflation beyond the norm can be done, particularly when a vehicle will be taking on more load.
For that scenario, Tagle recommends adding two or three psi over the regular tire pressure.
“If you are loaded with a lot of people, [make it]34 to 35, [or add]two to three psi,” he said.
Tagle, however, said motorists should not load a vehicle beyond its limit. Tires also have limit when it comes to load.
“But of course, always try not to overload your car beyond its limits,” he added.