Driving on under-inflated tires: What happens if you keep driving?

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Driving on under-inflated tires is a very dangerous thing to do. One of the first things drivers should do when they get into their car is check that both front and back tires are inflated correctly. If you find that your tires were under-inflated, it’s important to stop driving immediately and contact emergency services for help. In this article, we’ll discuss what can happen if you continue driving on under-inflated tires, how often people forget to inflate their tires before getting in the car, and some other tips on tire safety!

The optimum tire pressure for a typical passenger car is 30-32psi. A tire pressure less than this value is considered under-inflated and is considered a hazard that should be avoided. Have you had this before? Sometimes we wake in the morning and find out that one of the tires isn’t looking right, a bit lower than the others.

But since you are in a hurry, you drive to work without getting that pressure pumped up. Do you know how much danger in which you were putting yourself and others? This article explains what happens when you drive on under-inflated tires and other effects of low tire pressure while driving.

What happens if you drive on under-inflated tires? If you drive on under-inflated tires, the tires will wear unevenly and eventually fail. A little more or less than the optimum tire pressure does not cause any severe effect. But driving with as low as 6psi tire pressure increases the chances of tire failure.

Effects of driving on under-inflated tires

Premature wear

When a tire is under-inflated, too much of its surface comes in contact with the road surface. A lot of friction raises the heat on the tire’s surface, thus causing premature wear, separation of tire treads, and blowouts.

A blowout is an instance of an under-inflated tire exploding and letting out the remaining air in it. A blowout can occur so suddenly that it causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle, causing them to swerve to other lanes or crash. By doing this, the driver puts his life and that of others in danger.

Side Note: If you have wear, and need to replace your pickup’s tires, this article here would be worth a read!

Vehicle Damage

An under-inflated tire exerts excessive pressure on the chassis and suspension components of the vehicle and may lead to damage to these parts. Part repair or replacement incurs unnecessary costs on the owner. Thus driving on under-inflated tires is costly.

Excessive fuel consumption

The rolling resistance increases upon driving on an under-inflated tire. Increased fuel is thus consumed in compensation for the opposition, which increased the expenditure on fuel.

Signs of an under-inflated tire

Of course, like many things on your vehicle, if your tires are under-inflated there will be some tell tale signs that this is the case!

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

The purpose of the TPMS in a car is to alert you when the tire pressure is below the ideal value. Once the tire pressure falls below the set value, the TPMS light blinks to indicate something wrong. This is a call to you to check the pressure of each of the four tires.

Longer Stopping Distance

When under-inflated, tires offer minimal grip on the road surface to facilitate stoppage. The car moves for a longer distance before making a complete stop. If you’re experiencing this challenge, you are probably driving on an under-inflated tire and should change it immediately.

Challenges with steering

Steering ability may decrease when driving on an under-inflated tire. If you find difficulties with turning or general maneuvering with the steering wheel, check the tire pressure; one of the four may be spoiling your driving time.

What to do to avoid drive on under-inflated tires

Tires may look fully inflated even when running at low pressure. Tires should never be checked visually and assumed to be inflated. Take the pressure gauge and check to ensure that the pressure is correct.

Pressure checks may be done monthly or after two weeks, depending on how often you are on the road. Also, don’t forget to check the tire pressure when embarking on long road trips. Such trips require proper preparation to avoid getting stranded.

Tips for maintaining a proper tire pressure

  • Check the tire pressure in the morning when it is cold, and pressure is not affected by heat or movement.
  • When measuring tire pressure, choose an accurate pressure gauge to avoid over or under-inflating the tire.
  • Inflate to the required content. Do not overload or under-inflate.
  • When checking pressure during the day, ensure the tire is cooled for at least three hours before using the pressure gauge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does cold weather affect nitrogen filled tires?

Much like normal tires, nitrogen tires will also be affected by different air temperatures. In cold air you will likely want to add some air, and in warmer air you will want to lower them back down to what you car manufacturer calls for.

Should I put air in my tires when it’s cold?

You should always be paying attention to your tire pressure, and cold weather generally does result in lower tire pressure. This isn’t because you lose any air, but because air tends to expand in the summer heat, and contract in the winter cold.

How often should you put air in your tires?

Most people recommend always checking everything on your car every time you drive, however a weekly basis you should at least be checking the tire pressure. This generally will result (if you have good condition tires) in adding or removing some tire pressure every couple of months.


Driving on an under-inflated tire causes wear of tires due to increased friction with the road surface. It may also lead to tire failure with puts the driver and passengers in the car in danger.

We should learn to check our car pressure routinely to avoid the risks and costs that result from driving on an under-inflated tire.

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