Tire pressure, that is. Everyone agrees that by simply keeping the tires of our cars properly inflated, we can reduce greenhouse gases. Tires lose air over time so chances are, yours may need more air. Unless, of course, you have already taken this step and incorporated it into your routine car maintenance.
I, on the other hand, am embarrassed to say that I can’t remember the last time I checked my tire pressure, even knowing that my car could be 3-4% more fuel efficient. If everyone who drives in the US would start taking this simple action, it would mean a monthly reduction of over 90 million gallons of gas or 1.8 billion lbs of CO2 released into the earth’s atmosphere. Even if you didn’t care about doing something for the greater good, saving money on the gas you consume is an incentive.
Just in case there are other dummies out there (like me) who have deferred car maintenance to their significant other, I’m going to walk you through the steps to help you get started. Krista dropped by and was willing to go to the gas station with me since her tires needed to be checked. Princess Lily waited patiently while we documented this.
The best time to check the air pressure is when the car is cold or hasn’t been driven for at least 3 hours.
First step is to locate a pressure gauge. If you don’t have one, you can buy one from any auto supply store. You might want to check your glove box just in case it is buried underneath the maps, etc. If a gas station has air for tires, they may also have a gauge on the hose. Some people say these are not as accurate.
Next you need to find out how much pressure your tires need. The PSI number (pounds per square inch) may be on a placard in the driver’s door jam or in the car manual. This is a point of some controversy. The mechanics in the gas station say to use the PSI number on the side of your tires instead of the number in the door jam since it is very likely you have replaced the tires that originally came on the car. I checked several websites and they don’t agree on this point. We decided to use the PSI number on the tires.
Unscrew the plastic cap on the air valve. Press the tire-pressure gauge on the valve and hold it down firmly. If you hear a hissing noise, you are letting air out. Press down harder.
Look at the gauge to find out how much pressure each tire has.
Add air if needed until you have the correct amount.
Make sure to check all four tires and your spare. It is recommended that you do this once a month.
Traffic volume was down in Washington for the month of June as compared to June 2007 by 6.8%. That is a significant reduction. If you are driving less, you are already taking a step toward reducing greenhouse gases. Checking tire pressure is one more small action we can all do.