We are a mobile society. In almost every aspect of our lives we are either on the move or refuse to be tethered to any sort of cord. We have phones that can function in most areas of the planet, except of course the twelve by twelve grassy area next to the cell phone store. We have wireless internet that broadcasts streaming TV shows straight through our wireless speakers. Our refrigerators can communicate with our computers, letting us know what we need, even when we are not standing there quizzically with the door open. All of this mobile, connected technology can be baffling and it can be somewhat disconcerting. It can seem like we are connected to everything all the time, but in reality we are no longer physically connected to much at all. The cars we drive are no exception, many of them have their own wireless hotspots and bluetooth connectivity. They have become mobile entertainment cubes and it is only a matter of time before the driver is eliminated from the equation for good. That being said, until we have flying cars like the Jetsons, we are eternally bound to the road by one of the oldest technologies in the world, the wheel.
Tires and Wheels
Of course vehicles these days are a long way off from the ox carts and wagons that adorned early wheeled transportation. Back then the wheel was the main contact point to the road and generally made of wood. Some time later, wheels were reinforced with metal and became much more reliable. Small adjustments aside, this is how wheels were for thousands of years, in direct engagement of the ground. Sometime in the early 19th century the tire was invented. Oddly enough, before this time, bicycles were wooden wheeled and must have been a bone jarring pastime. The pneumatic tire was composed of rubber, filled with air and mounted to a wheel. This allowed for a much smoother ride and quickly translated over into a new technology, automobiles. From the time the first wheel and tire was mounted on an automobile, there has never been a more effective way to connect the vehicle to the ground. The driver may be gone someday, but it is doubtful that anything will replace the tire.
The Modern Tire
The tires that sit under our current vehicles and early automotive tires are only similar in the fact that they are inflated with air, aside from that comparison they have nothing in common. Current tires are commonly referred to as radial tires. This is a technical term that refers to the makeup of the tires and they are what the majority of vehicles utilize today. Modern tires can come in a variety of load ratings, speed ratings and inflation pressures. The most critical of these bing the inflation pressure.
In order to understand the proper inflation pressure of your tires it is important to look at the contact patch of your tires. Physically, your car is only touching the ground on maybe 3 feet of rubber. That is astounding when you think that most automobiles are well north of 3000 pounds. For this reason, y it is so important to have your tires properly inflated. Many drivers do not consider their tires to be one of the most important safety items on their vehicle, but it can be argued that they are. These four small “contact patches” as they are known, are directly affected by the amount of air in your tires. Varying the amount of air in your tires, even by a few pounds, can drastically alter how your vehicle behaves on the road. Improper inflation can cause overheating, premature tire failure and decreased fuel economy.
How Do I Check The Tire Pressure?
You would think the answer to this question would be simple, but unfortunately there are a hundred different answers and each vehicle model has its own unique tire pressure specification. When a vehicle manufacturer designs a new model, generally they need to follow guidelines as far as emissions and fuel MPG ratings are concerned, of course cost is always an issue, as well. The engineers run tires at varying pressure ratings based on the weight of the vehicle and the general conditions of operation (i.e. towing a boat), they then determine the ideal tire pressure for that specific vehicle. The weight and intended use of the vehicle is also taken into account when determining these specifications.
Finding the Air Pressure Specifications
Many tires are stamped with an air pressure rating on the sidewall. However, we cannot stress enough that these values stamped on the tire should be ignored. The stamped pressures on the side of the tire are generally the maximum air pressure for that tire, not the application. A vehicle could have two different air pressure ratings based on where the tire is mounted, front and rear could be completely different from one another. This is where the placard or sticker inside the driver’s door comes in handy. This invaluable piece of information tells you exactly what the recommended tire pressure should be. Keep in mind that, as your vehicle is driven, the tires will heat up causing the pressures to fluctuate. Therefore, it is best to check your tire pressures when they’re cold. After you have determined the proper tire pressures from either the owner’s manual or the driver’s door sticker, adjust the pressures accordingly.
Come See Us At LOF-Xpress™
Keeping your vehicle in the best shape possible is mission at LOF-Xpress™. We believe in keeping the roadways of Iowa safe for our customers and their families. This is the main reason we are so passionate about proper tire pressure. If you have any questions about the proper tire pressure for your specific vehicle please stop by one of our convenient locations in either Ames or Ankeny. While you are there, let us show you just how fast our oil change service can have you back on the road. We look forward to speaking with you and we thank you for your business.