Measure tire inflation monthly to save at the pump
Surging gas prices have made fuel efficiency a higher priority for Canadian drivers, according to a new national survey conducted by Leger in mid-April for the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC).
92 percent of drivers surveyed say fuel economy is now a higher priority for them and 90 percent understand that proper tire inflation maximizes mileage and reduces fuel costs.
Drivers are right to think they can save at the pump by ensuring their tires are properly inflated. Industry studies show motorists can improve their gas mileage by 0.6 percent on average – up to 3 percent in some cases – simply by keeping their tires inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure. Additionally, underinflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2 percent for each one PSI drop in the average pressure of all tires. Driving a vehicle with just one tire underinflated by 56 kPa (8 psi) can increase vehicle fuel consumption by four percent.
$348 million wasted on fuel
According to Statistics Canada, in 2017 Canadians purchased 43 billion litres of gasoline. With a 0.6 percent gas mileage improvement resulting from proper tire inflation, drivers would have avoided having to buy 258 million litres of gasoline and saved about $348 million. Saving this much gasoline would also avoid the release of 593,000 metric tonnes of CO2into the atmosphere, which equals the emissions of 125,000 vehicles in a year. (Based on $1.35 per litre and one litre of gasoline producing 2.3 kilograms of CO2)
Tire industry research shows that one-third of drivers typically have at least one tire underinflated by more than 10 percent and one in ten have at least one tire underinflated by 25 percent or more.
A disconnect between knowledge and practice
The survey’s findings reveal a clear disconnect between understanding proper tire inflation improves fuel economy and knowing when and how to measure tire pressure.
- Only 21 percent of drivers measure their tires’ inflation pressures monthly, which is the industry-recommended interval for pressure checks.
- 63 percent are unaware inflation pressures should only be measured when tires are cold.
- 34 percent refer to the air pressure stamped on the tire’s sidewall when identifying the correct pressure for their tires. (The imprinted sidewall pressure is the maximum pressure a tire can contain under maximum load. Prolonged driving at this inflation pressure can result in uneven tread wear and reduced traction, particularly on wet surfaces.)
- 11 percent rely on visual inspections to determine the correct inflation pressure for their tires. (A tire can be underinflated by 20 percent or more and look normal.)
“With gas prices surging to a five-year high, it is not surprising Canadian drivers want to make smart fuel efficiency choices,” says Glenn Maidment, president of TRAC. “Consumer education is clearly needed now more than ever to bridge these persistent tire inflation-related knowledge gaps that prevent optimal fuel efficiency, cause drivers to waste their hard-earned money and help protect the environment.”
Easy, four-step approach to measuring tire pressures monthly:
Find the recommended inflation pressure for your tires on the vehicle placard. If you can’t find it, check the owner’s manual for its location.
Remember to only measure pressure when the tires are cold. If you have been driving more than two or three kilometres, wait three hours before measuring.
Use an accurate tire gauge when measuring pressure. The gauges at gas stations can be notoriously inaccurate. 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-check the pressure.
How accurate is your Tire Pressure Gauge?
It is important to use an accurate tire gauge when measuring pressure. The gauges at gas stations can be notoriously inaccurate. Remove the cap from the valve stem, press the tire gauge onto the valve and take the pressure reading.
Getting great performance or saving money doesn’t have to be choice. Having an exact measurement of your tire pressure is oftentimes the difference between lighting up the win lights and blowing your tires off at the line. AutoMeter’s professional grade digital tire pressure gauge provides the most accurate measurement available in a durable package designed for the rigors of life at the track.
Tire pressure is important to much more than just fuel economy
Softer tires are more likely to “roll over” when cornering or changing lanes, as the sidewalls are extremely poor at providing traction. Low pressure also increases the chances of hydroplaning in wet conditions and increases braking distance.
Any way you look at it, reducing traction increases your chances of losing control of your vehicle. Keeping tires at the proper pressure ensures consistent tread contact with the pavement, particularly when cornering, braking and accelerating.
Don’t forget: Just 6 PSI underinflation can lead to a tire blowout and possible loss of vehicle control.
This is the primary reason that tire-pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) are mandated in all new production vehicles. Preventing tire blowouts could prevent thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities every year.
3. Tire LifeLow tire pressure increases tire wear and reduces the lifespan of your tires significantly. If you drive around with underinflated tires consistently, you’ll be faced with replacing them well ahead of schedule.
Manufacturing new tires also adds to a vehicle’s impact on the environment. Producing carbon black, a critical component of tire rubber, requires crude oil and generates carbon dioxide emissions in the process.
Even if you’re accustomed to performing maintenance tasks like regularly changing your vehicle’s oil, these generally only happen every few months, while tire pressure can fluctuate weekly — even daily. Take 10 minutes a week to check and adjust your tires, and you’ll save more than a few visits to the fuel pump and tire store. You may even avoid calls no one wants to make — to tow trucks or even ambulances.
Beyond tire pressure: fuel efficient tires
With growing environmental concerns globally, tire manufacturers continue to work on designing more fuel-efficient tires. These tires are designed with specialized tread patterns, advanced rubber technologies, lighter materials, and improved aerodynamics. The result is improved fuel economy in the range of two to four percent. For motorists who drive 25,000 km per year, this translates to $50 to $100 in fuel savings per year, so the average motorist can expect to save hundreds of dollars over the lifetime of the tires. Find the fuel-efficient tire for your driving lifestyle here: www.fuelsavingtires.ca.
TRAC has developed an informative ‘Get Fuel Fit’ Guide to help motorists save fuel. The guide also offers valuable tips on tire selection and maintenance as well as driving habits that lower fuel consumption, advance safety and protect the environment.
Canadians can learn more about maximizing the value and performance of their tires by visiting www.betiresmart.ca.
An online survey of 1,255 Canadian motorists was completed between April 12 and April 15, 2019, using Leger’s online panel. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of ± 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
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