Eco-Saturday: Check your tire pressure

Have you checked the air pressure in your car’s tires lately?

According to the EPA, you can boost your fuel economy anywhere from 0.6 percent to 3 percent just by keeping your tires inflated to the level recommended by your owner’s manual.

Properly inflated tires last longer, too, which helps conserve money and resources in the long run.

There are dozens of pressure gauges on the market. Invest in one and use it regularly to keep your car running efficiently and safely.
There are dozens of pressure gauges on the market. Invest in one and use it regularly to keep your car running efficiently and safely.

It’s a good idea to check your tire pressure regularly all year, but this time of year is especially important, because changes in temperature affect air pressure, and I’ve seen tires that were inflated to the correct level on an 80-degree afternoon drop by 5 psi or more overnight because the temperature dropped. A couple of years ago, we went to visit Ron’s family in central Illinois, which is about two planting zones north of us. The weather was warm when we left Southeast Missouri that morning, but thanks to a cold front moving in from the north, the temperature dropped about 40 degrees in the span of 200 miles, and as we headed home that night, the low-pressure warning light came on about 15 miles from my in-laws’ farm. We pulled into a gas station and discovered all four tires were running at 30 to 35 psi — well below the recommended pressure of 40.

Half a percent might not seem like much, but it adds up quickly — especially when you consider the cumulative environmental impact of millions of cars rolling around on underinflated tires — and it’s well worth the five or 10 minutes it takes to check your pressure a couple of times a week and top it up as needed.

Emily

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