Tire pressure, that is. As of today, I’m going to make sure I check my tire pressure at least four times a year — as the seasons change.
As Larry West says on About.com, “When tires are not inflated to the pounds per square inch (PSI) rating recommended by manufacturers, they are less ’round’ and require more energy to begin moving and to maintain speed. As such, under-inflated tires do indeed contribute to pollution and increase fuel costs.”
According to the website fueleconomy.gov, inflating tires to their proper pressure can improve mileage by about 3%, whereas leaving them under-inflated can lower it by 0.4% for every one PSI drop in pressure.
As West says, this means that the average person driving with under-inflated tires “uses about 144 extra gallons of gas, at a cost of US$300-$500 a year. And each time one of those gallons of gas is burned, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere as the carbons in the gas are released and combine with the oxygen in the air. As such, any vehicle running on soft tires is contributing as much as 1.5 extra tons (2,880 pounds) of greenhouse gases to the environment annually.”
On top of this, smushy tires can also lead to longer stopping distances, roll-overs and skidding (and as someone who almost ran over her boss once while he was jogging, I can attest that it is very important to be able to brake effectively).
While I acknowledge that I probably shouldn’t be driving a car to begin with, at least when I do, my tires will be treading a bit more lightly on Mother Nature’s back.