How to check your car's tyre pressure

The correct tyre pressure is essential for safe and comfortable driving; it also improves fuel efficiency. Should a car become involved in an accident and it is found that incorrect tyre pressure was a contributing factor the driver could face prosecution and his or her motor insurance company could refuse to provide cover. It is therefore important to regularly check the car's tyre pressure; in fact it should be done at least once a week.

Checking the tyres

There are several ways to check tyre pressure. The easiest, though least precise method is to push the thumb into the side of the tyre; if there is any 'give' then the chances are it is under-inflated. At least this will give a very basic indication that the tyre needs inflating, but much more precise methods are available.

Many petrol station forecourts have automatic air pumps. All the driver has to do is input the required pressure into the machine, which then reads the tyre pressure and pumps in air through the nozzle until the correct level is reached.

The pressure of the car's tyres can also be read at home. Portable pumps, which can be foot or electrically operated, have a gauge, which indicates the tyre's current reading. There are also simple and inexpensive tyre air pressure gauges, which can be used to give a reading.

Inflating the tyres

Before inflating the tyres it is important to know what the correct pressure is. This can be found in the car's handbook and may also be printed on the inside of the driver's door ledge or inside the petrol filler cover. There will usually be different recommended pressures depending on the load the vehicle is carrying.

If there is an automated pump for inflating tyres in a petrol station forecourt it is a good idea to use it to both check the pressure and re-inflate the tyre. They cost very little to use; very often there is no charge. The only inconvenience is if there are other cars waiting to use it first.

Tyres can also be inflated at home, provided there is some kind of foot or electric pump available. Foot pumps are particularly useful, as they can be carried in the boot and used while you are out and about, if necessary.

Before the tyres are inflated the car should be parked on as level a surface as possible. This will ensure that the weight is evenly distributed and that a true air pressure reading is given. Once the tyres have been inflated double-check to make sure they have the right pressure.