One of the key elements of good car maintenance is keeping the vehicle’s tires filled with the correct amount of pressurized air. The specified amount will vary from one car to the next, but the benefits of keeping tires accurately pumped remain the same across the board.
Simply speaking, the more precisely tires are filled, the better they’ll grip the road. This improves fuel economy, helps with braking performance, allows for better cornering, and helps reduce wear and tear. Tires that are optimally filled will also create a smoother, quieter, and more comfortable ride.
To achieve perfect pressure, the tire pressure gauge is both a mechanic and car owner’s best friend. Here are five facts you should know about this very important measuring device!
The Gauge Works by Measuring Air Atom Collisions
When we talk about tire pressure, we’re actually talking about air atoms colliding with a tire’s interior walls. Tire pressure can be increased by raising the temperature of the atoms, which is why it’s important to take a reading when they’re cold.
The other way to increase tire pressure is by adding air atoms to the tire as you do whenever you pump up a tire. Adding more air atoms to a constant volume causes a greater number of collisions on the tire’s interior walls. A tire pressure gauge reads this effect as higher pressure.
An Airtight Piston and Spring Produce the Measurement
The tube of the pressure gauge contains a small piston, made of soft rubber that creates an airtight seal in the chamber. Between the piston and a stop located at the end of the tube is an internal compressed coil spring.
When we insert the gauge into a car’s tire valve, the pressurized air from the tire enters the piston of the gauge and starts to expand, pushing the piston. In turn, the compressed spring inside the gauge chamber pushes back in a predictable manner. This, in turn, produces the tire pressure reading.
The Reading Can Be Impacted by Elevation and Temperature
Tire gauges measure gauge pressure, which is the pressure relative to outside atmospheric pressure. This means that the reading will change from mountain to sea level and with changing temperatures as atmospheric pressure is greatly affected by both altitude and weather conditions.
There Are Different Gauge Types for Students in Automotive School to Know About
Tire pressure gauges come in many varieties. The least expensive and most commonly owned by car owners is the analog pencil gauge. While this gauge is decent for taking an accurate reading, many of those with an auto mechanic training background are likely to prefer a digital pressure gauge, which reads in half pound increments for even more precise measuring.
TPMS Is an Important Evolution
If you’re interested in automotive school, you might be interested in the evolution of tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). Lots of modern cars are now sold with built-in tire pressure sensors.
Since 2007, most new cars sold in the U.S. have been required to incorporate a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). This innovation measures all four tires simultaneously, with pressure readings that can monitored from inside the vehicle. The driver will be alerted to any instances of 25% under-inflation, and can act quickly to ensure the tires are optimally inflated at all times.
Even with the introduction of TPMS, the many other varieties of tire pressure gauge remain an important and long-standing standard device of the mechanic’s toolkit.
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