Canadians make these tire care mistakes the most often

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Tire inflation mistakes can cost you dearly

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Improper tire pressure can cost you dearly, and most drivers know it. But according to the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC), an alarming number of drivers are making some pretty serious mistakes when it comes to checking and adjusting tire pressures. Here we’ll dive into the association’s latest survey results, which reveal which inflation-related mistakes Canadian drivers are making the most often, and we’ll hear from a tire shop owner on his best tips for checking and maintaining your tires yourself.


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Findings from a recent Leger survey for the TRAC reveal, in part, that a significant number of motorists have neglected their tires during the pandemic. 18 per cent say they haven’t checked tire pressure in the last year, with the worst offenders being drivers aged 35 to 44, where the figure rises to 27 per cent.

Curiously, the survey also sees 95 per cent of drivers agreeing that proper tire inflation is essential to vehicle safety. Some 91 per cent understand it’s better for fuel economy, and 71 per cent understand that proper tire inflation pressures lower emissions, too. According to TRAC, the survey reveals — at least in part — a disconnect between understanding the importance of proper inflation, and knowing how to do it.


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Based on 2019 data, TRAC says that only 21 per cent of drivers check tire pressures once a month as recommended in the owner’s manual of your car, and that a whopping 63 per cent were unaware that inflation pressures should only be measured when tires are dead cold. Checking tire pressures within a few hours of even a short drive can create an inaccurate reading.

Further, 34 per cent of drivers say they refer to the air pressure stamped on the tire sidewall which is actually the maximum pressure rating. Driving on a tire at maximum pressure for extended periods can cause wear and damage, and the proper inflation pressure is in your owner’s manual or door placard, not on the tire sidewall, cautions TRAC. 


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Finally, 11 per cent of survey respondents said they rely on visual inspections for tire pressure, which is, not surprisingly, a really bad idea.

RAM 1500 door stickers
RAM 1500 door stickers Photo by Elliot Alder

So, remember to only check your tires when they’re cold, such as first thing in the morning when the car’s been parked overnight. This should be a monthly ritual, and automatic before a road trip for maximum confidence. Check each tire pressure, and adjust accordingly.

A well-equipped inflator can check and adjust tire pressures at the touch of a single button, and many units come with built-in charging provisions and other accessories that make them handy for summer travel, too.

Your vehicle might have an electronic Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), but a regular manual check is still a great idea to confirm that everything’s in good order with the sensor system and tires.


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mechanic Checking and torch tire in maintainance service center which is a part of showroom, technician or engineer professional work for customer, car repair concept
A mechanic performing a tire inspection. Photo by Tzido /Getty

To help drivers focus on the most important checks for a car that’s coming out of pandemic ‘lockdown’ in a parking garage or driveway, I talked to Shafin Perwani, the owner of OK Tire in Pickering, Ontario. 

Automobile health starts from the ground up — in this case, a properly inflated tire. The only thing standing between your car and the road is tires, so it’s easy to see why proper tire maintenance is so essential” he explains.

Perwani suggests that drivers check tire pressure at least monthly, remembering that under-inflated tires wear out faster and result in uneven tread wear. This, in turn, increases fuel consumption. Point is, under-inflated tires cost you money, so the five minutes a month it’ll take you to check and adjust your tire pressures is a good investment. 


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Rotating your tires is an essential part of the regular maintenance of your vehicle” Perwani adds. 

“The purpose of rotating the tires is to achieve a more uniform wear for all of your tires, saving you money in the long run. The more you pay attention to tire rotation and tire inflation, the longer the tires will last”.

Regular use can help tires last longer, too. During the pandemic, with cars parked for weeks and months on end, tires can deflate, rot, crack, develop flat spots, and otherwise suffer. If in doubt, get them checked out by a professional.

“Have a certified technician look for uneven tread wear, shallow tread, punctures and damaged valve caps” Perwani says. 

“If any of these elements are not up to par, tires should be replaced. Remember, when the tread wears down, your vehicle has less traction to adhere to the road. It is imperative to check your tire treads for signs of wear. Good treads allow for normal handling of your vehicle and help prevent skidding and hydroplaning”.

For maximum peace of mind, if you’re driving (or buying) a car that’s been sitting parked for weeks or months, assume its tires are under-inflated and may be unsafe until you have confirmation to the contrary.

Next, Perwani cautions readers to take unwanted or unusual vibrations seriously — as they could be symptoms of trouble with various parts of the vehicle, or a sign that an alignment is required. 

“When wheels are misaligned, your tires will drag instead of rolling smoothly — again, causing your tires to wear out quickly and unevenly, as well as increasing your fuel consumption.”


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