Are you one of those drivers who never pays any attention to their tires unless one is completely flat? If so, you may want to reconsider this approach. The air pressure of your tires can make a significant difference in several key areas including safety. When your tires are regularly used with pressures that are either above or below the ideal pressure, their durability can be compromised and this could also lead to unexpected failure. Such a failure can lead to a serious accident.
The Problem with Over-inflating
For people who are not too fond of the trips to the gas station or some other suitable outlet to inflate their tires, putting in as much air as possible is usually seen as the best approach. However, an over-inflated tire will also be stiffer. Therefore, only a certain part of the tires will be in contact with the road and this will result in uneven wear. In this case, the center of the tire will experience more wear than the sides.
The rigid tires also reduce comfort levels in the car, causing a much 'harder' ride. However, the more immediate danger will be the increased likelihood of the over-inflated tire to get damaged on poor roads.
The Problem with Under-inflating
When your tires are under-inflated, they are also likely to wear quicker. However, in this case, the type of wear experienced will be 'shoulder wear'. This is the wearing of the tire at the sides while the middle part still has fresh treads. This happens because the under-inflated tire is much flatter on the road.
You may also have to visit a gas station more frequently if you frequently under-inflate your tires. This is because under-inflated tires experience more rolling resistance due to their greater flexibility. Your car, therefore, uses more power to move.
Under-inflated Tires in Accident Scenarios
Under-inflated tires have a more serious effect on vehicle handling than over-inflated tires. Under-inflated tires will need greater distances to come to a complete stop. The steering can also be less responsive if your tires are under-inflated, making the handling much more difficult.
When trying to avoid an accident, the shorter the distance you need to come to a stop the safer you'll be. You won't get this if your tires are under-inflated and the less responsive steering will not help. You should visit an auto shop regularly for a vehicle safety check; looking at tire inflation is just one part of the maintenance they'll do.