Why Do Car Tires Lose Air in Cold Weather?

June 16, 2024

Understanding why car tires lose air in cold weather is crucial, especially during the winter months. The primary reasons include a decrease in air pressure, hardening of rubber at low temperatures, and ice formation between the tread and road surface. Cold temperatures cause the air pressure inside tires to decrease, which can lead to a loss of ability to hold air and potential tire rupture. Furthermore, rubber becomes harder and more brittle in very low temperatures, making it less likely for tires to regain their shape after being flattened.

Decrease in Air Pressure

why do car tires lose air in cold weather

One common reason why car tires lose air in cold weather is the condensation of air inside the tires as the temperature drops. This change causes the air pressure to decrease, potentially turning on the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) light. Typically, the TPMS light may come on in cold weather but usually resolves itself after driving and warming up the tires. It's crucial to check the tire pressure when the TPMS light illuminates, as tires lose about .19 PSI per 1 degree Celsius decrease in temperature.

Hardening of Rubber

Rubber hardens and becomes more brittle in very low temperatures. This increase in brittleness reduces the tire's ability to regain its shape after being flattened, thereby potentially leading to a flat tire. Regularly checking and maintaining tire pressure during cold weather is necessary to maximize performance, mileage, road contact, and safety.

Ice Formation Between Tread and Road Surface

why do car tires lose air in cold weather
"Porsche Tire Pressure Gauge" by fragment.fi is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/.

Ice can form between the tread and the road surface, reducing friction and leading to less heat buildup. This lack of friction increases the likelihood of tire failure. It's crucial to address any issues with tire pressure promptly to ensure safety and prevent further damage. If unsure about the cause of the TPMS light or if tires are damaged, it is recommended to schedule an appointment with a professional auto shop for inspection and maintenance.

Recommendations for Preventing Flat Tires

To prevent flat tires in cold weather, keep a close eye on tire pressure and check it regularly. Maintain proper tire pressure by consulting your vehicle’s manual or tire placard. Additionally, consider using a quality tire gauge for an accurate reading. Ensuring your tires are properly inflated will help mitigate the common issues encountered during frigid temperatures.

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