There are a few common causes of both car accidents and vehicle damage alike, and one of the top examples here for many vehicles is low tire pressure. Tires need the right level of pressure for several reasons, and there are a few key risks being taken if you drive without the right pressure - and this is especially true for classic cars that are still being driven.
At Andersen Restoration Parts, we offer numerous parts and services to help keep your classic car in great shape, from front-end suspension bushings and other suspension kit products to idler arms, control arm bumper sets and much more. While many of the effects of low tire pressure on a classic car are similar to those in modern vehicles, these impacts are often exaggerated and can have an even greater impact on vehicles that are already a bit more fragile to begin with. Especially as we get into the colder part of the year, where tire pressure tends to drop, here's a rundown on why it's so important to maintain tire pressure in your classic car, plus the risks you're taking if you don't.
Uneven Tire Wear
One of the first and most obvious signs of low tire pressure is uneven tire wear. As the difference between the full and underinflated tires increases, the tread on one side of your tires will begin to wear more quickly than the other, giving you an added expense in having to replace them sooner than expected. Not only that, but poor alignment due to unevenly worn tires can also lead to a more hazardous driving experience, since poor alignment reduces the car's control and responsiveness.
And the longer you drive with low tire pressure, the worse it will get. That's why it's so important to check your tires regularly and at least every few weeks if you're on a regular route.
Increased Fuel Consumption
Another issue that can be caused by low tire pressure is increased fuel consumption - something that becomes more of an issue when you're driving a classic car, which tend to get lower gas mileage than the average vehicle. This is caused by increased friction when driving with low tire pressure, and the harder you push your engine, the more gas it will need to make up for this issue.
Furthermore, there are cases where this increased fuel usage has a negative impact on certain other components of your engine, such as the spark plugs, catalytic converter and even the fuel injectors. As a result, it's important to ensure that you're keeping your tires at the proper pressure levels in order to keep your car running smoothly and efficiently.
Regular Flat Tires
Flat tires while driving are a dangerous issue, and they become even more of a risk when it comes to classic cars. The lower and weaker the tire, the less control you have over your car, which can result in a blowout or loss of control while driving on the highway. Keeping your tires properly inflated minimizes this risk significantly, so make sure that you're staying vigilant on this front - especially during the colder months.
Ineffective Vehicle Handling
Another issue that can be caused by low tire pressure is poor vehicle handling. The following issues are all linked to underinflated tires: loss of traction, reduced fuel efficiency and increased braking distance, among other risks. All these factors mean your car is less responsive in unexpected circumstances and will take longer to stop or turn - both of which can become extremely dangerous.
And once again, this danger is often heightened for classic cars, which already have a harder time navigating certain scenarios due to their age. Ultimately, you want to make sure that your tires are inflated at the proper level in order to get the most out of your car and maintain its safety during each driving experience.
While a flat tire is already a hazard, a tire blowout can be much more dangerous and cause significant damage if it occurs at higher speeds. Low tire pressure is one of the leading causes of a tire blowout, so always make sure that you're keeping an eye on your tires' pressure level in order to minimize this risk.
For those unaware, a blowout refers to a more severe issue than a flat tire, and is often only noticed after it has already occurred. This is why it's important to remain vigilant and make sure that your tires are always up to the task in order to minimize this risk as much as possible.
How to Check Tire Pressure
There are a few simple steps that you can take in order to check your tire pressure and make sure that it's at the proper level. The first is to check for any visible issues, such as bulges or flat spots, with a flashlight and look for any signs of water seepage.
The next step is to use a tire gauge to measure the psi (pounds per square inch) of each tire. For most vehicles, the ideal psi is between 30-35, though this may differ for some classic car tires. Finally, if you don't have a tire gauge handy or aren't sure how to use one, there are usually air pumps available at gas stations that can automatically inflate your tires to the appropriate pressure.
For more on the risks of leaving tire pressure low in your classic car, or to learn about any of our classic car restoration parts or services, speak to our experts at Andersen Restoration Parts today.