The air pressure in your tires supports the weight of your vehicle and thus has a significant impact on their performance, regardless of the weather. When your tires are properly inflated, they provide an even distribution of load across the contact patch of the tire, helping stabilize the structure of the tire. Properly inflated tires have a maximized contact patch, meaning the area of the tire that touches the road provides optimum contact for the best possible traction and handling response.
If a tire is underinflated, there is not enough air pressure to support the center tread area or the sidewalls. This will force the shoulders of the tire to support the weight of the vehicle. If the air pressure is low enough that the sidewalls do not have sufficient support, steering response and handling are compromised, and there is even risk of sidewall damage.
If the tire is overinflated, the tire will balloon out, shrinking the contact patch and forcing the center tread area to support the weight of the vehicle. When the contact patch shrinks, there is less rubber making contact with the driving surface, reducing the tire’s ability to grip.
Both overinflation and underinflation can cause irregular treadwear, reducing the overall tire life. Overinflation causes irregular wear in the center tread area. Underinflation typically leads to irregular wear in the shoulder areas of the tread. Underinflation also increases rolling resistance, making the tires less fuel-efficient. Learn more about the effects of air pressure on treadwear.
For the best possible tire performance in dry conditions—or any weather—we suggest referring to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended air pressure, which will provide the best wear and handling conditions for your tires.
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