WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9 Call for Action): I recently turned in my 11 year old car for a new one. Of course, the new one has a lot more bells and whistles than I am used to, so you can imagine my surprise when this winter a dashboard light indicated that the tires needed air, all four of them! I took the car to the dealer and learned that this is a common occurrence in the winter because the air pressure decreases when the weather is very cold.
So whether your car is old or new, you need to check the tire pressure during cold weather and most likely add air to the tires. Especially in the severe cold we have been experiencing. In the case of my vehicle, the tires had to have about 5 pounds added per tire (they are very large tires).
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There are a number of reasons to check the air pressure when it is so cold. The first and most compelling is that the vehicle becomes sluggish to maneuver and may contribute to an accident. In addition, the wear and tear on the tires increases significantly when the pressure is too low. Also, low tire pressure decreases the miles per gallon you get on your vehicle. There is also the possibility of low tire pressure causing the tires to overheat which could lead to a blowout.
When the weather starts to warm up, you should check them again and probably let out some air. When you are making changes to the air pressure make sure the tires are cold. Do not check pressure when the tires have become heated through driving.
Written by: Shirley Rooker, Director, WUSA9 Call for Action