low tire pressure

Low Tire Pressure: The Common Causes and Solutions

Low tire pressure not only affects the performance of the vehicle but also endangers the driver’s safety when partaking in traffic.

Tire pressure is a measurement of the air pressure in a tire. This is an indispensable aspect of vehicle maintenance, as the wrong pressure can affect safety, performance, fuel economy, and tire life in both the short and long term.

Therefore, you need to regularly check the tire pressure of your RV or car because the effect of low tire pressure will cause many problems for vehicles. If you are constantly running on tires with less than necessary air pressure, it can be dangerous for you.

What Does Low Tire Pressure Mean?

Normally, the standard tire pressure (recommended by the manufacturer) will usually appear in the vehicle’s owner’s manual or on the signs posted on the car door.

Tire pressure needs to be offset against the amount of cargo and passengers in the cabin. So in general, the driver can let the actual tire pressure be 10 to 15% lower than the pressure pre-recorded on the vehicle, which will be reasonable and safe. Moreover, this number only refers to the pressure when the tire is cold. Therefore, you should know the basics to quickly identify whether your tires are in a bad state or not.

In the current digital age, many vehicles are equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system with updated information about the tire pressure status on each driving route. This technology is even a safety-standard accessory in some rich and developed countries, which come with the wheel-performing structure of modern cars.

With this monitoring technology system, any driver, experienced or novice, can quickly check and monitor the low tire pressure occurrence and refill it when necessary. Note that when the parameter drops about 25%, the TPMS light on the dashboard will light up.

In case your RV/truck is not equipped with the TPMS, choose to purchse an RV TPMS now or buy a hand-held tire pressure gauge. When using external tools, there will be no automated system or sensors to remind you every time there is a problem. You need to periodically check to avoid the tire pressure being too low, affecting the tire durability in particular, and the car in general.

what does low tire pressure mean
And if you doesn’t turn to any electronic system, you can try to determine the low tire pressure by feeling. (Photo: Depositphotos)

If there is a problem with the two front tires, the steering wheel may vibrate and become more difficult to control, and the car may also go out of the way when cornering, which you can feel immediately. The two rear wheels with low tire pressure are often more complicated to detect. In this case, the car may lose grip or tail a little when cornering.

Overall, fast detection of low tire pressure will help the vehicle roll on the road with a comprehensive and safe experience, keeping the tire surface used optimally, showing the best smoothness, and stable cornering while minimizing all possible harms.

Read more: How Does a Tire Pressure Monitoring System Work?

Unexpected Effects When Tire Pressure Is Low

Constantly running on tires with pressures below standard can not only cost you more money than usual but also endanger the whole driving experience.

The vehicle is slowing down

Drivers only retain about 80% of the tire pressure, which will cause the car to slow down. For example, when the air pressure in your tires is 6 PSI below the vehicle’s regulations, your vehicle speed can decrease by up to 5%.

Emission increase

Low tire pressure also causes the car to emit more emissions because it needs more energy to roll smoothly. It means you have to put more fuel in your tank each period. And this act does no good to the environment at any time in the long term.

Tire life reduced

Shorter tire life can be attributed to low tire pressure. This results in a 25% reduction in tire life. You will have to replace them more often because the tire surface is not of the minimum thickness, leading to unsafe.

Increased risk of causing an accident

Tire pressure that is too low is a danger when participating in traffic. When the tire surface is in more contact with the road than necessary, friction increases.

At this point, the friction causes additional heat, which can cause the tire to explode or the tire to split.

what causes low tire pressure
Not enough air pressure will increase the risk of an accident.

Take you a long time to stop

Increased stopping periods and taking longer to stop the car are also the effects of low car tire pressure. According to many maintenance experts, underinflated tires are the leading cause of rollovers on SUVs.

What Causes Low Tire Pressure And Possible Solutions

Low tire pressure is a typical issue that plagues car owners all over the country, from the cold upper depths of the North to the sunny land in the South. More often than not, the temperature changes are the most likely-to-endure cause of tire pressure decrease. And in the end, a simple touch from an air compressor can partly solve the issue in no time.

However, if car tires constantly witness low pressure and the temperatures are consistent, there could be an underlying issue that you should have your eyes closed. Here are common reasons and some most possible discussions on how to fix low tire pressure.

Wheel corrosion

Some wheel types, such as aluminum or magnesium alloy, are more likely to rust and corrode. Low tire pressure is not easy to detect and may be caused by a rusty wheel rim.

If a wheel and beading seat gets damaged, the vibrations from the road can cause the wheel to become worn. The tire’s wear and tear will cause the side walls to break down, resulting in decreased handling and braking capability, and the air pressure will gradually become less.

If your wheels start to wear down, it’s usually a good idea to replace them. However, if the effect isn’t too severe, you can only remove the corrosion on the bead area. In either case, your tire service advisor or mechanic will be able to provide a more comprehensive explanation and solutions.

Old and worn tires

When your tires reach the end of their life cycle, they will not retain air pressure as much as they once did. Several factors can contribute to the deflation of a coming-of-age tire.

These factors can be environmental, mechanical, or physical. If your tires are old, have been ridden extensively, have worn tread, and are having trouble bearing a good amount of air pressure, it may be time to replace them.

low air pressure in tires
Air pressure loss can worsen as time goes on with old tires.

Related: Direct TPMS vs Indirect TPMS: Which One Is Better?

Temperatures changes

Changes in outdoor temperatures can affect and cause the low air pressure in tires. While this may not be a problem by itself, outdoor temperatures change is something you should keep an eye on in case it’s out of control.

When it is cold outside, pay attention to the issue because the cold weather can make your tire air lose its density, leading to a loss of air pressure. On the other hand, warm temperatures may increase the inflation in your tires, but this is okay as long as they do not become overinflated.

If temperatures are causing a tire pressure loss, bring it in for a refill. An expert will help you account for the potential for changing temperatures. Your vehicle should notify you when the pressure changes with the temperature. Yet, it is important to keep this in mind during extreme weather conditions.

Due to a tire refill

Having to go to a refill is perhaps one of the most common causes of a low tire pressure issue. Light tires will remind you of your routined tire when checks are due. If your TPMS light has recently come on, you may need to get it a tire refill.

It is important not to underinflate or overinflate your tire pressure, as this can cause flats. If you want to re-fill your tires at home, you can use a gauge to ensure the correct pressure or visit a mechanic center for help. You may be able to get a free tire pressure refill when treating your vehicle with different services.

Potholes or damaged curbs

Potholes can be a nuisance, but they can also cause tires to go flat. If you hit a pothole or a curb that has been damaged, the force of the impact will cause the tire to flex and lose air pressure bit by bit.

After unfortunately hitting a pothole, it is usually necessary to refill the tire with air right after. However, you should also check for any signs of tire damage, including sidewall bulging, slashes, or poor sealing.

Tire tread puncture

Driving over a nail or sharp object can damage the tire tread and inner liner, resulting in a slight loss of air pressure daily. Some happen-to-be-there road nails can stick in the tire for a short time without negatively influencing the air tire pressure.

But removing them is still the best option as leaving the nails there can cause tread split and, in the end, an under-pressured or flat tire. Fortunately, a stuck nail in your car tires is not as complicated to fix as you think.

With this issue, the possible and optimal fix may be a tire plug or patch with a tire repair kit and sealant. However, in this case, a tire service technician is 100% necessary to determine if you want another optimal option.

Tire specialists can check and fix the broken part in your car tire created by any anonymous nail on the road. They will then re-fill your tire’s air pressure levels, getting you back on track in no time.

how to fix low tire pressure
Mending a punctured tire is not a parable DIY project. (Photo: Lucky Business)

Tire sidewall puncture

If your tire sidewalls are punctured, you will notice inflation pressure loss at an extreme rate. You will need a new set of tires.

Deteriorated valve stem

The valve stem may be one of the most forgettable parts related to car tires. As you may only notice it when filling up your tires or washing your car, it is also a part that can wear and deteriorate, causing low tire pressure over time. Road salt and other chemicals can make the plastic and rubber on your car tire’s valve more brittle, which can lead to slow leaks of air.

Usually, if you experience consistent air pressure loss in all four of your tires, signaled by the TPMS sensor light, it’s likely that your valve stems are the problem. If it appears that the valve stem on your car wears out, you may need to purchase a new set of tires. Cleaning your car regularly can prolong the life of your tire valves.

Missing/No valve caps

The missing valve cap problem is not very popular among low tire pressure causes. There may be the case that someone may have stolen one of your tire valve caps. If that happens, 1 to 2 air pressure units will drop per month without warning.

Damaged tire bead

There are several reasons why a tire bead is damaged. A wheel may start to corrode, or the debris can get into the gap between the wheel and the tire. And the bead chunking at this point can show up as a result, when the tire bead tears apart or forms dimples. The other visible sign is a faulty seal, which is often caused by an old rubber and elasticity.

In both cases, the damage to the tires is already visible, and there is no better way than requiring new tires, and more likely new wheels as well.

Unqualified TPMS sensor

Have you ever seen the TPMS monitoring light come out on the dashboard, just to know later that all your tires are still at the standard pressure? In that case, your car may run on a defective TPMS sensor. Moreover, some metal-made pressure sensors are more likely to leak over time.

So if you are experiencing low tire pressure, consider visiting your auto service center for a full inspection and diagnosis. You may need to replace your TPMS sensor or the whole kit, which is an affordable and mind-free solution.

Wrapping Up

We have just gone through some causes of low tire pressure that you should pay close attention to and find solutions to avoid more severe problems as soon as possible.

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