When it comes to car maintenance, most guys believe its enough to simply change their oil on time and keep their ride fueled with premium gas. Unfortunately, proper maintenance requires you to be a bit more engaged if you are going to keep your prized possession in top shape. Maintaining proper tire pressure consistently is absolutely critical. The key is knowing how to set it correctly. Get it right and you’ll have a smooth ride. Get it wrong and you’re likely to end up in a ditch on a rainy day.

Always use a gauge

Most guys eyeball their tires quickly to check for low tire pressure. You probably watched your father doing this back in the day and assume you can do the same thing. The problem is most tires today have considerably stronger sidewalls which won’t sag like they did back in the day. If you’re riding on run-flat tires, they’re likely to appear norman even when they’re down to 0 psi. So just to be safe, always use a gauge. You can find a good quality one for as little as $20. An under-inflated tire doesn’t have enough air pressure to completely push the tread out against the weight of your vehicle, and it will curve inwards. As a result, you’ll have less tread in contact with the road – not a safe situation to be in.

Use the PSI guide on your car door as a starting point

Most people take the tire pressure numbers on their car door at face value, while some never realize there’s a placard on the door to begin with. Those numbers reflect the absolute minimum pressure required, based on a combination of how much weight they’ll have to carry (more weight requires more pressure), and how much pressure is needed to ensure all of the tread hits the ground.

Increase the pressure over the recommended minimum

Measure your tire pressure before you drive. This is when the tires are at their coldest and thus the pressure is at its lowest. Consider exceeding the recommended minimum by several PSI, then take the car for a drive and take note of how it feels. Decrease the pressure slightly, and drive it once more, repeating until you find your car’s ideal pressure. You’ll experience a more comfortable ride, which will absorb bumps and potholes without feeling overly stiff. Just a few PSI can make a major difference in both ride comfort and handling. Give it a try and you’ll get a better ride out of your car while extending the life on your tires.