What Happens If Your Tires Are Overinflated?

Tire pressure might be something you don’t typically think about when getting into your vehicle unless the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) activates the warning light on your dash. But tire pressure is extremely important when it comes to getting good gas mileage, as well as getting the most out of your tire life. Each vehicle has a recommended tire pressure that will provide the best and safest ride for you. 

Pounds per Square Inch, or PSI, is the unit that is used to measure the air pressure inside your tire. Most cars and trucks typically range from 27 to 35 PSI. To determine the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle, check the sticker located inside the driver’s door. If there isn’t one, you can default to using the owner’s manual. The best way to measure your vehicle’s air pressure is using an air pressure gauge. There are three main types of gauges: stick or pencil gauges; dial gauges; and digital gauges.

What is Considered an Overinflated Tire? 

Overinflation occurs when there is excessive air pressure within a tire. This causes the tread section of the tire to round out, leaving less surface area to be in contact with the road. Like over pumping a basketball, overinflating a tire makes the tire stiffer and causes the tread center to wear out much faster than the outer edges. Overinflation causes the tire to take on a distorted shape and prevents the tire from being able to isolate road irregularities well–leading to a harsher drive. 

Image source: ProtectMyCar

What happens when you drive with overinflated tires?

  • Loss of Traction and Reduced Braking

With overinflation comes loss of stability through less contact points of the tires on the road. The result is a loss of traction, less grip and a reduction in break performance. Overinflating tires also causes a decrease in braking performance on wet and slippery roads. 

  • Uneven Treadwear 

When there is too much air in the tire, it causes the tire to distort, leaving all the traction to be between the center of the tire and the road. This causes the center of the tread to wear first and will cause you to need new tires more frequently.

  • Reduced Ride Comfort 

The extra pressure in overinflated tires causes a reduction in the cars ability to absorb the impact from any road imperfections. Your vehicle might also vibrate a lot or you may feel less in control. 

  • Tire Blow Out

This is the worst thing that could happen from overinflation. If a tire blows out, you and other passengers are at risk of being injured in an accident. An overinflated tire has the potential to explode, especially if you hit a bump, pothole, or curb. 

  • Damage to Front Suspension

The engine and front suspension are forced to work harder when there’s limited contact surface area of the tire with the road. 

How to fix overinflated tires

  1. Locate your valve system on the overinflated tire. Look for a small black cap–1 to 2 inches in length–located in the middle of the tire, between the spokes. Twist the cap off counterclockwise to expose the metal pin inside. 
  2. Check the tire pressure with an air pressure gauge. Attach the gauge onto the valve and take note of the pressure. This will give you a better idea of where you need to adjust according to the vehicle’s recommended pressure.
  3. If using a stick/pencil gauge, use the back end of the gauge to press the metal pin in the center of the valve system down to release some air from the tire. Only release a little air at a time, checking in between to see what the air pressure is at.
  4. Once you have reduced the tire pressure to the recommended level, screw the cap back on the valve system and you’re all set to drive.

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Linzi Martin
Linzi Martin has worked as a content manager, consultant, and writer for the past six years. She's handled everything from blogs and articles to e-books and social media content. Her work has been featured in various publications including Apartment Guide, The Startup, and Voyage Magazine. Outside of work, Linzi enjoys staying active, frequenting new restaurants around South Florida, and spending time with her family.

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    1. Always use the correct tire pressure!

    2. Check your tires frequently and adjust the pressure according to the recommended levels for the uses you intend to put the car through. Trucks often have higher pressures recommended for increased weight capacity and high performance vehicles have increased pressure recommendations for driving above 100 miles per hour.

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