The air in your tires actually supports the weight of your vehicle, so properly inflated tires allow for an even distribution of load across the contact patch of each tire. Learn more about a tire’s contact patch.
Proper inflation provides the best tire performance, fuel efficiency, and treadwear. When tires are not properly inflated, the load of the vehicle is not distributed evenly across the face of each tire, distorting the contact patch. Driving on underinflated or overinflated tires for an extended period can lead to irregular treadwear.
When tires are underinflated, the weight of the vehicle is put on the tires’ sidewalls and causes them to bulge excessively. This also pulls the center tread area of the tires up and away from the road and forces the load of the vehicle onto the shoulders of the tire.
This means that driving on underinflated tires for too long will result in excessive wear on the shoulders of the tires and reduce the tires’ overall tread life. In addition to the treadwear issues that may develop, driving on underinflated tires can also cause excessive heat buildup in the sidewalls, leading to serious and irreparable sidewall damage. Learn more about overloading and underinflation.
When tires are overinflated, the center tread area balloons outward, reducing the contact patch and forcing the center tread area to support the weight of the vehicle. Continual driving on overinflated tires can cause irregular treadwear and reduce their tread life.
To maximize your tires’ tread life, it is best to follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended air pressure, which helps ensure an even distribution of load across the face of each tire, improve fuel efficiency, and optimize tire performance.