Breakdown: Why cold weather drops tire pressure

Published: Oct. 17, 2018 at 11:16 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - As temperatures start to drop, it’s good to know how to adjust your tire pressure so that your car can operate at maximum performance. This breakdown will be about how temperatures affect tire pressure.

Driving with the right inflation of your tires will create the best traction. The reason tires deflate during the cold months is because air contracts when it is cooled. As air temperatures drop, its individual molecules slow down and take up less space within the tire. The molecules will exert less force on the tire walls due to the extra space which will result in a drop in tire pressure.

On the flipside, when it is warm air expands and driving your car on the warm road will allow tires to heat up.

In general, in cold weather, your tire pressure will decrease about 1 to 2 pounds of pressure or psi for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit the outside air temperature drops, on the other hand, it will increase 1 psi for every 10 degrees the temperatures increase. For example, if the temperature drops overnight to the low 40s, your tire pressure will drop down by 4 psi.

Tips on how to maintain tire pressure

  • The best time to check your tire pressure is in the morning before your car has been driven.  
  • Record the psi for each tire 
  • Check pressures with accurate gauge 
  • Fill to recommended psi 

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