JustAnswer Blog: Automotive

You are here

True or False: Low tire pressure impacts fuel efficiency

True or False: Low tire pressure impacts fuel efficiency

By Carolyn Hauck on August 18, 2015

Assuming you’re like most people, you have a laundry list of tasks and errands to do each week. Also, like most people, checking the pressure on your car’s tires probably isn’t on that list. But should it be?

It sounds a little crazy, but does low tire pressure affect the fuel efficiency of your car? We asked ASE certified technician K. Wiggins on JustAnswer to verify that low tire pressure impacts fuel efficiency. Here’s what he had to say:

“Yes, low tire pressure can decrease fuel economy due to the increased rolling resistance of the tire at a lower pressure. This makes the engine work harder and use more fuel.”

In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that Americans waste nearly 2 billion gallons of gas annually due to underinflated tires. 2 billion gallons is certainly a significant number.

Stay on top of tire pressure

Technician Wiggins suggests checking the tire pressure of your car weekly, making sure to do it while the tires are cold, or haven’t been run for awhile, either in the morning or on the weekends.

He also points out that if your vehicle has an actual digital read out of tire pressure, you can trust that, however, if it only has the light that comes on when the tires are low, he suggests using a tire gauge as the light system can have a small margin of error.

You can purchase a tire gauge at an auto parts store for around $10. And it’s a good idea to adjust the pressure of all the tires at the same time. Even if you see one tire that’s significantly lower, take the time to adjust all the other tires at the same time.

Final verdict? True. Low tire pressure affects the fuel efficiency of your car.

Taking care of your tires can go a long way in taking care of your vehicle, and keeping it safe on the road. You can check pressure, inspect your tires’ tread and even rotate them yourself at home with the help of mechanics.