The height of winter is right on top of us, and with it, even colder temperatures looming. Maintaining correct tire pressure in this cold weather takes a bit more vigilance, but will reward you with a safer and more fuel-efficient driving experience.
As the outside temperature drops, the air temperature inside your tires does too. The decrease in temperature causes the air to contract, which lowers the air pressure in your tires. For every 10 degrees Fahrenheit the temperature drops, your tires can lose about 1 pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure. Since it’s generally recommended to keep your tires within 5 PSI of the recommended pressure, it becomes more important in winter to check your tires regularly.
Tire pressure can be affected by variances in temperature throughout the day as well. Checking your tire pressure at midnight and again in the warmest part of the afternoon would surely give you different readings. And, after driving for a bit, the air in your tires will heat up and also affect the PSI.
The key to maintaining correct tire pressure in the winter is to keep an eye on fluctuating temperatures and adjust accordingly. If there are slightly warmer days in the forecast, you can lower your tire pressure to compensate. If you find yourself in the middle of a cold snap, increasing tire pressure is recommended to maintain control and grip on icy roads. Most importantly, keep in mind that a manufacturer's recommended air pressure for your tires is the cold temperature, not the pressure after you've been driving for a few minutes.