Ahh summer in Saskatchewan. We just experienced our first thunderstorm of the season this week in our province (and #SKStorm on Twitter lit up like the sky!) and it feels like that was our official kick-off to the summer season from mother nature. Families are busy with spring activities and planning summer vacations, along with impromptu weekend adventures – all to take advantage of every minute of summer we get.
Recently, I was invited by Kal Tire to rainy Pitt Meadows, BC to see for myself the difference in something I thought was ‘minor’ but learned could not only affect my gas mileage this summer, but my family’s safety too. Before you head out on a road trip (even a quick 200km trip like we’re taking this coming weekend) what do you do to check over your vehicle ahead of time? While ensuring your tires are fully inflated makes total sense, how do you assess that? If you’re like our family, a quick visual check is the answer.
“After a long winter, we see a lot of drivers coming in to our stores with tires that are significantly under-inflated because tires can be deceptive,” says Vibhor Sharma, zone manager, Kal Tire. “Many drivers don’t regularly check their vehicle’s tire pressure and it’s impossible to tell just by looking at a tire if there’s a slow leak.”
Transport Canada warns drivers that even if tires “look fine, they could be underinflated by as much as 20 per cent.” And it turns out a lot of Canadians could be experiencing that safety risk: In a study referenced by Transport Canada, “50 per cent of vehicles on the road in Canada have at least one tire that is either over or under-inflated by more than 10 per cent. In fact, 10 per cent of all vehicles surveyed had at least one tire under-inflated by 20 per cent.”
Until now, I really didn’t give much thought to my tire pressure. After all, vehicles are equipped to give you a warning light/ding/signal/whatever when the tire pressure is low, right? This is true, I learned, but when your tire pressure hits that point it’s an emergency situation where your tire pressure needs attention NOW.
When your tire pressure is low, but not at that bells-and-alerts-point, it doesn’t mean they’re okay. Low tire pressure is a hazard and here’s a great video taken at an event in Toronto to explain the difference that I experience in the two test vehicles I drove in Pitt Meadows – one with optimal tire pressure and one with low tire pressure (yet not enough to give you an alert in your car): Click here to view!
Journalist Ross McLaughlin at CTV Vancouver did the exact same driving test I did and explains it all in this segment:
As you can see, right before your eyes (and mine in the driver’s seat in Pitt Meadows) the difference is clear. You simply can not handle as efficiently with underinflated tires.
Not only that, you’re damaging your tires and wearing them out well before their optimal life span. Take a look above at the rubber debris inside a tire that was driven on while underinflated for far too long, yikes!
So, what’s a mom to do ahead of a family trip when she’s packing the vehicle, and suitcases, and food, and all the other things? Well, you can either learn to check your tire pressure at home yourself which takes literally just seconds, or you can always take your vehicle to your friendly local Kal Tire location and they will check your tire pressure and fill your tires for free!
This is a great plan if you’re already out and about, but Kal Tire recommends that you check your tire pressure monthly or alternatively every time you fill up with gas. So, here’s a very simple step-by-step guide on how to do it: