Tyre pressure in cold weather| Continental tyres

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Checking tyre pressure in cold snowy conditions

Tyre pressure in winter

Tyre pressure in winter

Vehicle on a slippery curvy road

Tyre pressure affects the handling of your vehicle on slippery surfaces

Does cold weather affect tyre pressure?

The short answer: yes! Here’s how to make sure your tyre pressure is always right in cold weather

  • Find your vehicle’s recommended tyre pressure
  • Check your tyre pressure every two weeks
  • Air pressure drops by 1-2 PSI or 0.07 to 0.14 bar with every 10°C
  • Studded winter tyres also need regular maintenance  
  • Check your air pressure even if you have a tyre pressure monitoring system 

Maintaining correct tyre pressure not only ensures optimal traction and grip on any road surface, it also gives you more mileage for your fuel and even reduces COemissions. However, as soon as the temperature drops during cold winter months, it’s important to be vigilant of your tyres’ inflation pressure. Once you‘ve prepared your car for winter and fitted it with winter tyres, you also need to adapt your tyre pressure checks to the seasonal conditions.

Let’s take a closer look at how cold weather affects air pressure and how you can effectively monitor it for maximum driving comfort. 

Infographic: when the temperature drops, tyre pressure drops with it

When the temperature drops, tyre pressure drops with it

How does cold weather affect tyre inflation?

As a rule of thumb, when the temperature decreases by 10°C, tyre pressure drops between 0.07 to 0.14 bars or 1 to 2 pounds per square inch (PSI). Furthermore, if you live in or travel to a location where there is high elevation, tyre pressure is further reduced with every added metre of altitude. For this reason, it’s important to regularly check and maintain all four of your tyres’ inflation levels.

Not sure what your tyre pressure should be? There are several places you can find it in your vehicle:

  • On the fuel filler door
  • On the door frames of the driver’s and passenger sides
  • Your vehicle’s manufacturer’s handbook

Inflating your winter tyres according to your car manufacturer’s recommendation helps maintain good traction and handling on slippery icy surfaces, no matter the temperature change. Obviously, the same goes for all-season tyres

I have a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), do I still need to check air pressure?

In short, yes, you need to regularly check the inflation levels. As the temperature drops in cold weather, you might notice your TPMS symbol illuminating more often than usual – particularly in the morning when the air is cold. This is most likely due to the temperature dropping overnight, along with the bar or PSI level. However, this is no reason to become complacent when it comes to maintaining your wheels. You should check the air pressure at least every two weeks. In fact, while your tyres might look fine, a tyre can be under-inflated before it’s visibly noticeable! When checking your tyre pressure, you can also take a minute to check the condition and tread depth of your winter tyres

How important is inflation pressure for winter tyres with studs?

If you live in a region where roads often get covered in ice and where studded tyres are allowed or necessary in winter, maintaining the correct air pressure is just as important as it is for non-studded tyres. Maintaining the correct levels will provide maximum performance and safety. Poor maintenance can lead to premature stud loss.

How to check and adjust your tyre pressure

As inflation tends to drop with the temperature in cold weather, it’s important to check tyre inflation every two weeks. Here are some simple tips to help you check and adjust your tyre pressure:

Start
  • Ensure your tyres are cold.
    You’ll get a more accurate reading if you check the pressure first thing in the morning or when they haven’t been used for some hours.
  • Always check your vehicle’s handbook.
    If you’re not sure, refer to the vehicle’s manufacturer’s handbook. It will specify the minimum amount of air pressure needed in cold tyres to support your vehicle.
  • Use a quality gauge and air compressor.
    You can buy a reliable gauge and air compressor from an auto store or you can often find them at your local petrol station. Try to make a habit of checking your tyres every time you fill up.
  • Check the pressure and adjust the inflation properly.
    Place the gauge onto the valve stem and press down firmly until the hissing sound of air escaping stops. The gauge will show a reading of the pressure in PSI or bar. Make sure it matches the manufacturer’s recommendation. If it’s too high, push the valve to let out some air. If the air pressure is too low, attach the air compressor to the valve and fill the tyre until it reaches the recommended level.