Tire pressure monitor light on? It might be the cold weather

Car dealerships overwhelmed during cold snaps


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you got in the car this morning and were greeted by an illuminated tire pressure monitor light, it might just be the colder weather. According to Firestone Tires, tires lose or gain 1-2 pounds per square inch (PSI) for every 10℉ change in temperature. So theoretically, your tires could lose 4 PSI over the weekend if the temperature drops by 20℉.

Last weekend, we saw temperatures starting in the low 60s and warming into the 70s and 80s. After the cold front swept through we got down to 31° at the airport this morning and we only expect to warm into the mid 50s. That’s roughly a 30° change in temperatures, which could mean up to a 6 PSI change in your tires.

Firestone Complete Auto Care’s blog says low tire pressure should not be ignored, pointing out the potential hazards associated with low tire pressure.

  • Increased stopping time: Underinflated tires can increase braking time and skid more easily on wet pavement.
  • Poor fuel economy: Underinflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2% for every 1 PSI drop in the average pressure of all tires, notes the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Decreased tire lifespan: Underinflation can decrease the lifespan of your tires and make them more vulnerable to damage—all leading to you having to buy more tires, more often.

If your tire pressure monitor light is on, you might not need to visit the dealership, they are typically overwhelmed during cold snaps with tire pressure monitor light visits. You can check the tire pressure yourself and then add air if needed at most gas service stations.

You’ll need a tire pressure gauge or an air filling station with one attached. You’ll also need to determine the recommended tire pressure for you tires and vehicles. According to Firestone Tires’ Auto Care blog, you can find it written in your owner’s manual or on a sticker attached to your door edge, glove box, or fuel hatch. Recommended tire pressure usually falls between 30-35 PSI.

Check each of your tires to see how the pressure in each tire compares to the recommended tire pressure. Add air to any tire that does not meet the recommended tire pressure until it matches that PSI.

A few minutes after you add the air and all of your tires have the recommended tire pressure, your tire pressure monitor light should go off.

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