How to Put Air in Your Tires

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There are a few skills out there that every person should have that will make their lives much easier, like being able to do taxes or fold a fitted sheet. But there’s one skill that will come in handy for anyone who drives on a regular basis, and that’s being able to air up tires. Here’s a foolproof way to keep your tires up and running:

  1. Buy a tire pressure gauge. This might seem obvious, but it’s a really common thing that most people don’t realize they need until it’s too late. Most auto parts stores have them for relatively cheap.
  2. Use the gauge to measure each tire’s pressure and then determine how much air they’re going to need. Usually, tires need a pressure of roughly 30-35 psi. However, lighter trucks might need a higher pressure than the average car. The side of the driver’s door typically has the recommended pressure for the car, so check here first. After checking that, make sure the tires are relatively cool by not doing too much driving before checking the pressure. Hot tires will have a higher air pressure than they would cold, and this might trick you into thinking that your tires have more air in them than they actually do.
  3. Remove the valve stem caps (the small caps sticking out from the tire), making sure not to lose them. They’re fairly small and are commonly misplaced. Placing them in your pocket might be the best plan. Alternatively, leave the valve caps on until you start pumping and only take the cap off the tire that is currently being filled.
  4. Hook up the air pump to the valve and be careful to keep the pump flush to the valve, screwing the pump in securely. If you hear air coming out, that’s a sign that there’s not a good seal on the valve. A poor seal means that the air isn’t entering the tire efficiently, and you might end up spending a lot more time putting air in than you need to.
  5. Depending on the amount of air you need in the tire, airing them up can take anywhere from a few seconds for a quick top off, to a few minutes for tires that are seriously flat.
  6. Recheck the pressure after adding the air. If the pressure is too high, release a bit of air. If too low, keep pumping! It can be easy to think you’ll be fine if the psi is off by one of two numbers, but this decreases fuel efficiency and makes the tire more susceptible to damage. Deflated tires also make it harder to drive, especially in poor weather when it’s already easy to be in a collision.
  7. Repeat this process for every tire that needs to have air put in it.

Keep your tires in the best condition possible by checking their pressure every few months, especially when the weather is changing.

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