Pumping up your tires can save money at the pumps

One-third of Canada's 20 million automobiles have at least one under-inflated tire

Published: May 25, 2012, 5:00 AM
Updated: October 11, 2021, 10:32 AM


Want to save money on fuel? Pump up your tires.

Canadian drivers will pay an estimated $703-million in unnecessary fuel-consumption costs in 2012 simply because one or more of their tires are under-inflated, according to data from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and the Rubber Association of Canada (RAC), which represents tire makers.

This year alone, under-inflated tires will cause Canadian drivers to waste an estimated 533 million litres of fuel, they say. That's enough fuel to power 275,000 vehicles for a full year.

This needless fuel consumption will also release an additional 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

And most of that waste could be avoided if drivers simply checked their tire pressures monthly to ensure they are properly inflated, and adjusted them accordingly.

What causes all this waste is increased tire rolling-resistance. A tire that is under-inflated doesn't roll as smoothly or easily as one that is properly inflated so it takes more power to turn it.

As a result, the vehicle must burn more fuel simply to push the tire down the road.

According to RAC research, one-third of Canada's 20 million automobiles have at least one under-inflated tire.

Driving 20,000 km a year on under-inflated tires can cost an extra $100 at the pumps relative to tires that are inflated to the vehicle manufacturer's recommended level. Drivers who drive even more each year can potentially save much more.

But, according to the RAC, only 30% of Canadian drivers measure their tire pressures monthly.

Measuring and adjusting tire pressure is an easy, four step process that takes no more than five minutes. Here's how:

  • Find the right inflation pressure by wheel position on the vehicle placard, which is commonly located on one of the vehicle's inside door posts, or inside the glove compartment or fuel door. Consult the owner's manual for the exact location.

  • Remember to only measure pressure when the tires are cold. If you have been driving, wait three hours before measuring tire pressure. Tires heat up when rolling, so if they are measured after driving more than two kilometres, the pressure reading will be inaccurate.

  • Use a reliable tire gauge when measuring pressure. A visual inspection is not an effective way of measuring tire pressure. A tire can be under or over inflated by 20 per cent or more and not be noticeable. Remove the cap from the valve stem, press the tire gauge onto the valve and take the pressure reading.

  • Add air until the recommended air pressure is achieved. If you overfill the tire, release air by pushing on the metal stem in the centre of the valve, then re-measure the pressure.

You can learn more about the value of proper tire inflation and maintenance at