Dollars to be found where the rubber meets the road [CAR June 2012 print edition]

Canadian drivers wasting millions with improperly inflated tires

July 5, 2012
by CAR staff

From the June 2012 print edition of Canadian Automotive Review.

Canadian drivers are wasting $703 million a year in fuel because of improperly inflated tires.  Recently released data from NRCan and the Rubber Association of Canada (RAC) shows that the under-inflation of one or more tires on about a third of Canadian vehicles is causing the consumption of 533 million litres of fuel more than needed. That’s enough to power 275,000 average cars for a year. An average driver can save about $100 a year by simply checking tire pressures regularly.

Measuring and adjusting tire pressure is an easy, four-step process that takes no more than five minutes. Here’s how:

  • Find the right inflation pressure by wheel position on the vehicle placard, which is commonly located on one of the vehicle’s inside door posts, or inside the glove compartment or fuel door. Consult the owner’s manual for the exact location.
  • Remember to only measure pressure when the tires are cold. If you have been driving, wait three hours before measuring tire pressure. Tires heat up when rolling, so if they are measured after driving more than two kilometres, the pressure reading will be inaccurate.
  • Use a reliable tire gauge when measuring pressure. A visual inspection is not an effective way of measuring tire pressure. A tire can be under or over inflated by 20 percent or more and not be noticeable. Remove the cap from the valve stem, press the tire gauge onto the valve and take the pressure reading.
  • Add air until the recommended air pressure is achieved. If you overfill the tire, release air by pushing on the metal stem in the centre of the valve, then re-measure the pressure.

Shortened tire life should also concern drivers who want to save their money and protect the environment. According to the RAC, chronic under-inflation can carve as much as 15,000 kilometres off the service life of a tire, adding to tire replacement costs and the number of scrap tires.