An under or overinflated tire pressure when towing can result in a serious challenge. While an underinflated tire will affect the handling, an overinflated tire could cause a blowout. These occurrences can be scary in an unladen vehicle, let alone a towing vehicle with a heavy load wagging behind it like a fishtail.
Safety must be your number 1 priority when towing a load. Overlooking the importance of safety will be to your detriment. An improperly inflated tire increases the chances of a road accident. Therefore, you must take this seriously.
This post will show you the correct tire pressure for towing. You’ll also be learning how to calculate tire pressure on a trailer and how to fix tire pressure on a tow vehicle. So, let’s jump on it!
When towing a vehicle, maintain the maximum tire pressure recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. This information is in your owner’s manual or on the driver’s side door jamb.
Contrary to what many vehicle enthusiasts may claim, you don’t need to overinflate your vehicle’s tire when towing. This is because the manufacturer already considered the load capacity of the vehicle. That already determined the max tire pressure recommended.
Maintaining the correct tire pressure in a tow vehicle and the trailer is crucial when towing. The correct tire pressure ensures optimal handling, stability, and safety while on the road.
Most people have a misconception that increasing the tire pressure when towing will enhance stability and improve fuel efficiency. However, this is not the case. So, if you’re asking, “Should I increase tire pressure when towing?” Overinflating tires can reduce traction, an uncomfortable ride, and uneven tire wear.
The tire pressure listed in the owner’s manual or the label represents the optimal pressure for maintaining balance and stability while driving or towing. It is important to note that different vehicles have uniquely recommended tire pressure.
For optimum traction, fuel economy, comfort, and load-bearing capabilities, Ford recommends 35 PSI for most Ford F-150 trucks. Likewise, Chevy Colorado has a similar recommended tire pressure of 35 PSI.
Meanwhile, the 2020 Toyota Tundra truck has a recommendation of 30 PSI for the front and 33 PSI for the rear wheels. For Grand Cherokee owners, your Jeep Grand Cherokee max tire pressure should be around 33 PSI – 36 PSI.
Does Tire Pressure Matter While Towing?
Yes, your tow vehicle’s tire pressure matters a great deal. This is because incorrect tire pressure can cause unnecessary early wear. It can also result in additional rolling resistance (friction between the tires and the road) and reduced gas efficiency.
Therefore, verify the recommended pressure for your vehicle’s tire before attempting to tow a load.
Maintaining the recommended tire pressure isn’t for your vehicle’s safety alone. Your life could depend on it because inadequate tire pressure is one of the causes of tire blowouts.
So, whether or not you’re towing a load, always stick to the recommended tire pressure for your car.
How Do You Calculate Tire Pressure on a Trailer?
Here’s a simple arithmetic calculation to determine a trailer’s tire pressure:
Multiply the tire’s weight rating by the number of tires on the trailer. The weight capacity is usually written on the tire’s sidewall. This is the maximum weight you can put on the trailer tires.
Determine the trailer’s weight. You can weigh your trailer at any truck scale or a salvage yard.
Determine the PSI rating on the tires. You can also find the numbers for the tires printed on their sidewall.
Divide the trailer’s weight by the maximum tire load weight. Whatever answer you get is the percentage of the maximum tire pressure you should have in the tires.
Lastly, multiply the maximum PSI rating by the percentage you got in Step 4 above. The answer you get is the tire pressure you should have on your trailer.
How to Fix Tire Pressure on a Tow Vehicle
Maintaining proper tire pressure is crucial to ensure fuel efficiency, optimal handling, and extend the tire service life. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to fix your tow vehicle tire pressure.
Step 1: Confirm the correct tire pressure
Firstly, locate the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. You can find this information on a sticker on the driver’s side door frame or in the owner’s manual. Note that the recommended tire pressure may differ for the front and rear tires.
Step 2: Get the necessary tools
To fix an incorrect tire pressure on your tow vehicle, you will need a tire pressure gauge, an air compressor (if necessary), and a tire inflator.
Step 3: Test the tire pressure
Now, remove the valve cap from each tire. Then, firmly press the tire pressure gauge onto the valve stem. Ensure a proper seal, as any air leakage can result in an inaccurate reading. The gauge will display the current tire pressure. Compare this to the recommended pressure in Step 1 above.
Step 4: Add or release air
If the tire pressure is too low, you must add air. If this is the case, attach the air compressor to the valve stem and turn it on. Monitor the pressure on the gauge as you inflate the tire.
To avoid over-inflating, periodically check the pressure to ensure you do not exceed the recommended level.
Conversely, if the tire pressure is too high, you will need to release air. To do this, press the center pin inside the valve stem with a small tool like the tip of a pen or a key. Slowly release the air and periodically check the pressure to know when you reach the correct level.
Step 5: Repeat the process for all tires
Check and adjust the tire pressure for each tire, including your vehicle’s spare tire (if applicable). Remember to refer to the manufacturer’s recommended pressures for the front and rear tires, as they may differ.
Step 6: Check for leaks or damaged tires
If you experience any challenges while fixing the tire pressure, carefully inspect each tire. Take some time to check for signs of leaks, punctures, or damage. Look for embedded objects like screws or nails, cuts, bulges, or excessive wear.
If you notice any of the issues above, contact an expert auto technician to fix them. You may also need a new tire replacement (if necessary).
Step 7: Recheck the tire pressure
Once you have adjusted the tire pressure on all tires, use your gauge for verification. Ensure to recheck the pressure to ensure it matches the recommended level.
Step 8: Replace the valve caps
Once you’ve verified the tire pressures, securely screw the valve caps back onto each tire’s valve stem.
Step 9: Go for a test drive
After fixing your tow vehicle’s tire pressures, ensure to go for a short test drive. This will enable you to assess the handling to ensure everything feels normal. Meanwhile, carefully listen for any unusual vibrations or noises. These could indicate underlying issues with the tires.
Following the information in this article, you can effectively determine or fix your vehicle’s tire pressure when towing. This will help you ensure proper handling, safety, and fuel efficiency.
Also, always remember to check and maintain the correct tire pressure regularly. Again, this practice will help to extend the tire’s lifespan and provide optimal performance for your tow vehicle.