When it comes to any sort of wheel covering, from car tyres to bicycle tyres, it is crucial that the pressure is maintained correctly. In many cases, incorrect tyre pressure will lead to poor handling and inefficient road use. However, if your tyres are left with an inappropriate level of pressure for a prolonged period then the situation can get much worse. Indeed, it is dangerous to head out on the road with some tyres that are at the wrong level of pressure. Why do tyre makers and vehicle manufacturers recommend certain pressures and why do motorists need to pay attention to them?
Over Inflated Tyres
Tyres that have been over-inflated cause a number of potential problems. Firstly, even very large tyres - such as truck tyres, for example – can balloon when there is to much pressure in them. Essentially, this means that the part of the tyre that would come into contact with the road is bowed outwards. As a result, the amount of tyre that is affording the driver grip and traction is diminished. The greater the over inflation, the greater the ballooning effect. If you need to swerve or brake rapidly, then over-inflated tyres will perform less well. Any manoeuvring, especially at speed, becomes increasingly risky if you have exceeded the recommended pressure.
Secondly, over-inflated tyres are more prone to bursting than ones at the correct level of pressure. Just like any material that has been inflated, the rubber of a tyre stretches as it comes under more pressure. If you run over anything sharp in the road, then a puncture is more likely. The risk of a catastrophic failure, such as a complete blowout, is also increased with over inflation.
Under Inflated Tyres
Tyres that are insufficiently pressurised offer greater rolling resistance when they are in use. Simply put, your car's engine needs to work that bit harder to make a tyre do a complete revolution every time that it turns if it is not pumped up properly. If you don't keep your tyres sufficiently inflated, then you will end up spending more dollars at the petrol pump and need to refill your tank more often.
In addition, under-inflated tyres can slew when you corner. Because their shape is not maintained when you corner as effectively, control can be lost at the apex of a turn. Drivers will often notice their tyres are under inflated because the ride of their car starts to feel 'loose'. Check your car tyre pressure for loss every few times that you refuel to keep on top of the situation.