What should my car tire pressure be? Is 40 PSI good?

Since cars are such costly investments, it’s no wonder that every car owner pays special attention to maintenance. Your tires are just one component that you must take care of. However, they are incredibly important. If you neglect them, they will wear out prematurely. It may lead to unexpected expenses you could have easily avoided. With proper care, you’ll ensure your vehicle will be safe to drive. It’ll also last much longer.

An important part of tire maintenance is proper pressure. If you pump in too much air, your car will be difficult to steer. Too little air will cause you to lose control when driving on a wet road. Are you worried about messing up this delicate task? Well, worry no longer. In this article, we’re going to delve into every matter related to car tire pressure. The good thing is that most newer cars have a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), so you avoid driving on a flat tire. Here’s what you need when the air pressure is off.

top of a tire

How much air should I put in my tires?

Putting the right amount of air in their tires can seem challenging for new car owners. Well, we all started somewhere. With the right knowledge, keeping them inflated properly will become second nature.

But what is the right pressure? Is 40 PSI good? Or is it too much? Although the exact amount varies from car to car, the recommended pressure varies from 32 to 40 PSI. To find the precise value, check the inside of your driver’s door – you should see a sticker with the value written on it. But if you bought a used vehicle, odds are the sticker’s faded. In this case, you can consult the owner’s manual.

An important fact to note is that people measure the pressure when the tires are cold. Thus, you should examine it only after your car’s been parked for a sufficiently long time. The ideal time to do this is in the morning, before the temperature rises. If you do it while the wheels are hot, you will not get an accurate reading. It is because gas expands with heat. And as it expands, the air exerts more pressure against the rubber.

How is tire pressure measured?

car tire standing up

All this knowledge might seem great, but what’s the point if you can’t take proper care of your car? Luckily, measuring their pressure is no nuclear science. All you need is a tire pressure gauge. Some inflators come with inbuilt gauges, making your job that much easier. The gauge will conveniently display the things you need to know on a screen to regain optimal tire performance and avoid a blowout.

Remember that while this pressure might be measured in PSI here in the US, other countries might use metric units. Don’t be surprised if you see bars or kilopascals on your foreign car.

To check it, follow these simple steps:

  1. Wait for your vehicle to cool down. It should be at least a couple of hours since your last trip. Otherwise, you will get inaccurate readings.
  2. Uncap the air valve
  3. Press the tire gauge against the valve stem. You might hear hissing until the pressure stabilizes. It is completely normal.
  4. Mark down the value that appears on the gauge.
  5. Compare your reading with the recommended PSI. Read the manual thoroughly, as front and back wheels need different amounts of air.
  6. Replenish or let out air as needed.
  7. Close the air valve.
  8. Repeat for the other three wheels, and you’ll be well on your way to great fuel efficiency again.

What should my tire PSI pressure be?

As a rule of thumb, your pressure should fall between 32 and 40 PSI. If it’s outside of this interval, you might run into some problems while driving your car. For example, your vehicle won’t be as responsive to steering. You’ll also be more vulnerable to slipping on the road. Worst of all, the constant friction will erode your tires well before their time. That’s not something any wallet likes to hear, right?

However, you might want to keep them underinflated in certain scenarios. Car racing is one such example. When you deflate the tires, they will drop down a little. It increases the driver’s grip on the road. Proper traction is necessary, especially for turning sharp corners. But for day-to-day drivers, low pressure causes more problems than benefits.

How often should I check my tire pressure?

car tire center

In an ideal scenario, you should check your pressure every two weeks. But we understand that not everyone has so much time on their hands. Maybe you have to take care of your family. Or perhaps it’s your work that’s keeping you busy. Whatever the case may be, make sure you check it once a month at the bare minimum. Believe us. It will spare you a lot of trouble in the long run.

In general, your wheels lose about 3 PSI of pressure every month. On paper, it may not look like much. But take a look at this example. If your recommended pressure is 35 PSI, it will drop to 29 PSI in two months. It is much lower than normal. You should replenish the air in your tires routinely to avoid problems that may be life-threatening.

Whenever you inflate them, do so while they’re cold. Otherwise, the air will contract once they cool down.

Normal tire pressure for a car

32 to 40 PSI is what experts consider a normal pressure for your car. You should check your tire pressure regularly to keep your trips smooth. Your car will consume more gas if it is higher or lower than this recommended value. The rubber will also wear down faster.

You can look inside the driver’s door to find the value recommended by your car’s manufacturer. Usually, that’s where you can find a sticker containing all the relevant information. Alternatively, you can check your vehicle’s manual.

Did you know tires even lose air through the sidewall over time?

How do I know what my tire pressure should be?

car tire that is lying down

Finding your car’s specific tire pressure is quite easy. Most cars have it listed on a sticker located on the inside of the driver’s door. If you find it illegible or damaged, consult your manufacturer’s manual. All of your vehicle’s metrics and specifications will be listed there.

If you decide to check your car’s tire pressure, do so only once the wheels have cooled down. Otherwise, you won’t be able to measure it properly. Because air expands at higher temperatures, your readings will be greater than normal.

You may have stumbled upon a number while you were checking out your tires. It indicates the tire’s maximum capacity. Whatever you do, do not inflate it until you reach this value. Too much air will lower your traction. As a result, you’ll have difficulties manipulating your car. The excessive air will also cause the rubber to expand in the center. And because it will touch the road only in the center, the rubber will erode much faster than usual.

Tire pressure normal range

In general, it should be from 32 to 40 PSI. Each vehicle requires a different value, but it will most of the time fall within this range.

new car tire

Best tire inflator

Now that you know everything about this topic, the time’s come to add air to your tires. But wait, aren’t you forgetting something? These are not balloons – you can’t just blow air into them. You’re going to need an inflator. Unsure where to start looking? We’ve reviewed the following products for you, so you no longer have to go to gas stations to take care of the job. Handling the job is easy after you unscrew the valve cap.

A smart air compressor can save you from both underinflation and overinflation, which helps with braking and driving safety. Summer or winter, you still need to make sure you maintain the right pressure in your SUV!

DEWALT

Although filling your tires with air isn’t difficult, some people aren’t cut out for manual labor. Others might simply lack the time. Thankfully, you don’t need to do this menial chore yourself. This DEWALT inflator will do the job if you find manual labor tiresome (no pun intended). Just set the desired pressure and watch as it breathes life into your tires. All the while, you’re sipping on a tasty cocktail. You only have to plug the hose in and out until you go through all four wheels.

But what if you need to pump in some air while you’re on the road? Not to worry, DEWALT’s got you covered. Thanks to its battery, you won’t have to rely on an external power source. And when the sun sets behind the horizon, you won’t even notice it. Its powerful LED light will brighten even the darkest night.

Thanks to the rubber feet, the machine will also remain stationary as it does its work. In the world of inflators, it truly is crème de la crème. Even though it’s not the cheapest option, it’s certainly the best.

NameDEWALT 20V
BatteriesNot included
Item Dimensions10.5 x 7.7 x 2.2 inches
Sound Level92 dB
Voltage20 Volts

Pros

  • We love that it’s battery-powered, so you don’t need to be near an outlet.
  • It’ll make tire pumping a lot easier than doing it at a gas station.
  • It performed better than expected when it arrived.
  • It’s very easy to set up.
  • The reading are very accurate.
  • It’s made by a trusted brand.

Cons

  • There are cheaper, worse alternatives out there.
  • The battery is not included.
Sale
DEWALT 20V
7,690 Reviews
DEWALT 20V
Provide the air your car needs.

AstroAI

Storing large electric inflators can be frustrating. Due to their size and weight, they’re not exactly the easiest to manipulate. Do we even need to mention the exorbitant prices? If you’re looking for something small and affordable, why don’t you try this AstroAI inflator? Thanks to its small size, you can store it in even the tiniest of garages. And despite being so small, it packs quite the punch. It will certainly fill your tires up to the recommended pressure.

How can you check? Just look at the in-built digital pressure gauge!

The AstroAI inflator is easily the best budget-friendly option on the market.

NameAstroAI
Batteries‎2 AAA batteries required. (included)
MaterialStainless Steel, Brass
Product Dimensions‎1.23 x 1.45 x 4.92 inches
tem Weight‎10.6 ounces

Pros

  • We love how easy it is to tell the pressure with this device.
  • It’s very easy to ensure you have the right amount of air entering the tires.
  • It’s well worth the money.

Cons

  • You will never want to pump tires in any other way.
  • We wish it felt like it was made of a better quality.
Sale
AstroAI Digital
23,649 Reviews
AstroAI Digital
It's convenient that it has a gauge.

Max pressure on tires

Don’t mistake the recommended pressure for max pressure. The maximum pressure indicates how much a tire can hold before it bursts. On the other hand, the recommended pressure is the optimal amount of air you should put in them. It’s generally lower than the maximum capacity.

For most cars, the max pressure will be about 40 PSI. But smaller vehicles can’t handle this much air. On average, their max pressure tends to be about 35 PSI. In case you’re unsure, you can find this value inside the driver’s door. You can also find this information in the owner’s manual.

The brand might also affect the maximum value. For example, Michelin might need more air than Goodyear.

Best tire pressure for highway driving

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to increase your pressure when driving on the highway. While it’s through them doing might improve your mileage, this improvement is insignificant. You should only consider it if you’re carrying some extra load. A full trunk with two backseat passengers would be a good example. Otherwise, stick to your manual’s recommendations.

car tire seen from up top

What tire pressure is too high? (& what to do if it’s too high)

No matter the vehicle, you should never exceed the maximum pressure. For smaller cars, this will be about 35 PSI. Average cars can handle a bit more than that – up to 40 PSI. You will have lower traction while driving if you go over this number. Expect a bumpy ride too. And in the worst-case scenario, your Goodyear tire might even blow out.

Fortunately, the solution is quite intuitive. Let some air out if you suspect you have this problem. Just make sure you tested the pressure while the wheels were cold. Otherwise, you might accidentally underinflate your tires.

Because they have to bear greater weight, trucks often need more air in their tires. On average, this is about 55 PSI. In the case of heavy-duty vehicles, it can go up to 75 PSI. As always, check the recommended value in your manual.

Dangers of underinflated tires

Insufficient air will cause the rubber to sag and droop at the sides. As a result, your traction will increase. Although this is useful in car races, it will do you more harm than good if you’re a regular driver. As your traction increases, your mileage does the opposite. Expect frequent stops at the gas station. The rubber will also wear down faster at the edges, so you’ll have to replace your tires more often.

But perhaps the most dangerous phenomenon associated with underinflated tires is hydroplaning. Since the rubber sags, it’s much easier for water to get under it. When it happens, the water will severely reduce your overall traction. Many drivers get into accidents because of this. To ensure your safety, always inflate them properly. If improperly inflated, they’ll also affect the fuel economy and could ultimately lead to tire failure.

Risks of overinflated tires

car tire

While not as bothersome as underinflated tires, overinflating them is not ideal either. As the rubber expands, the contact patch between your wheels and the ground decreases. Thus, they will only touch the road in the center. The friction will be more pronounced in this area, so your Goodyears won’t last as long as they should. You might also experience difficulty controlling your vehicle. The poor traction will hinder your ability to brake properly.

But the issues don’t end there. Normally, rubber is a very flexible material. If you drive over a bump, it can absorb some of the shocks. Well, you can kiss flexibility goodbye if you overinflate your tires. We wouldn’t be surprised if the bumps knocked out your teeth.

Have you made sure that you’re not

  • Paying for extra gas
  • Wearing down the rubber faster
  • Avoiding hydroplaning
  • Avoiding unnecessary wear
  • And other things by having the right pressure?

FAQ

Make sure you know the type of tire you have. Whether they’re all-season or not, get your rims working perfectly. Here are some frequently asked questions.

coin shown next to tire
What is considered low tire pressure?

Anything below the recommended value can be considered low pressure. However, you’re unlikely to experience any major issues until it drops below 20 PSI. Such alarmingly low amounts will reduce their longevity. Even worse, driving your vehicle in this condition can be life-threatening.

All told, it’s a good idea to make checking the pressure a habit. You’ll never have to worry about any of these problems by inflating them at least once a month.

Should all tires have the same pressure?

Typically, the wheels closer to your engine will have to work harder. It is because they carry a heavier load. In most cars, the engine is located in the front so that the front tires will need some extra air. Although rare, some models carry the engine in the back. If so, then the back wheels will have higher PSI.

All this information can be found in your driver’s manual. Before you start your maintenance, make sure you consult it first.

What is the recommended tire pressure for 50 PSI max?

Since the recommended value is usually lower than the maximum one, your recommended tire pressure should be about 35 PSI on average. You can check the values in your owner’s manual if you have doubts.

Should I put nitrogen in my tires?

You might have heard that nitrogen may help your pressure stay up longer. While this is not wrong, we recommend against it. Nitrogen already makes up the bulk of air, so you have no reason to spend extra money on its purified form. It’s just not worth the price.

Should tires be filled to max PSI?

No, they should be filled up to the recommended PSI. If you fill it to the max capacity, expect lower performance on the road. It is because of reduced contact between the wheels and the road. The tires will also wear out much faster in the center. Always stick to the recommended value.

Conclusion

All told, maintaining a proper amount of air in your tires is essential for every car owner. By doing so, you can prevent frequent visits to the mechanic. Moreover, you make your vehicle safe to drive. Although the recommended PSI varies from model to model, it’s seldom higher than 40. You should inspect your pressure at least once per month. The process is simple, and the gadgets meant for the job are cheap.