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Last week, for the price of one gallon of gas ($3.78), I purchased a tire air pressure gauge. If properly used, my new air pressure gauge will save countless gallons of gas and put money in my pocket. It will be one of the best eco-friendly purchases I’ve ever made.
Here are the facts:
When automobile tires are not inflated to the pounds per square inch (PSI) rating recommended by manufacturers, they require more energy. According to government estimates, U.S. drivers waste 2 million gallons of gas a day due to under-inflated tires.
Fueleconomy.gov states on their website that inflating tires to their proper pressure can improve mileage by about 3.3 percent. That may not sound like much, but for a person who drives 12,000 miles a year on under-inflated tires, they will use approximately 144 extra gallons of gas, at a cost of $400-$500 a year.
Along with improved fuel efficiency, your tires last longer when they are properly inflated, which means you do not have to spend money replacing them and of course land filling or recycling them.
On top of the environmental benefits, properly inflating your tires saves lives. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration under inflated tires contribute to more than 600 highway deaths and 33,000 injuries each year.
So how do you inflate your tire correctly? Here are some instructions:
Using our trusty new air pressure gauge, check your tires’ pressure once a month. A visual check is not enough since a tire can be under-inflated by more than 20 percent and not look flat.
Check the pressure on “cold” tires – either first thing in the morning or after the tires have cooled down for about three hours. Checking tire pressure on a car with hot tires can result in a pressure difference of up to 5 psi.
Look for the recommended tire air pressure in the owner’s manual, inside the driver’s side car door or in the glove compartment. Add 2 to 4 psi when carrying a heavy load or pulling a trailer.
Now you are ready to “check” your tires
* Remove the tire’s valve cap.
* Place the gauge over the tire’s valve stem and press firmly so that no air escapes. A dial or sliding scale gauge will indicate the tire pressure. It is best to invest in your own high-quality pressure gauge because gas station gauges are sometimes misused and may not be accurate.
* Adjust the tire’s air pressure as needed. If the pressure is lower than recommended, add air using a gas station’s air line. When adding air, push the air hose into the valve firmly, until the air stops escaping. Check the pressure every 30 seconds, until you get the appropriate pressure.
* If the tire’s pressure is greater than it should be, use the nipple on the tire gauge to press the center of the valve stem and release air until the correct pressure is obtained.
* Replace the valve cap.
* Repeat the process for the other tires, circling the car. Remember to check the spare tire.
So, for the price of one gallon of gas, or a McDonald’s Happy Meal and a monthly commitment to inspect and “check” your tires, you can increase your fuel efficiency, save gas, resources, money and lives.
by Pat Byington, editor of The Green Register