Here's Why Tires Go Flat in Cold Weather

It’s a chilly morning in Seattle. Your Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) springs on immediately after cranking your car. Panic ensues. Have you been here before? Seeing a car dash light come on is never fun. Lights are meant to register emergencies or car failure only…or so you’ve been told.

Don’t panic. You might be able to blame your Tire Pressure Monitoring System alert on the weather and science—and you might not need a mechanic!

Why Do Tires Go Flat in Cold Weather?

What does weather have to do with it? Here’s why tires go flat in cold weather (and why you shouldn’t panic when you see a TPMS light on your Subaru!).

Tire Air Contracts When it’s Cold Outside

The least complicated reason to explain why your tires lose air when it’s cold outside? Air contracts whenever it is cooled. When the outside temperature drops, air molecules don’t move as quickly and they don’t take up as much space inside the tire—remember this from science class? Less space means smaller molecules are pushing against the tire walls, which leads to a drop in tire pressure. When it warms up, you’ll likely see your tire pressure light go off because the molecules will re-expand.

If your tire light comes on—it’s best to just go ahead and top off your tires with a little extra air. The tire pressure light going off, even in cold temperatures, could indicate a need for more air. It’s better to be safe than sorry. (Just make sure you check your tire pressure by hand first!)

checking tire pressure to improve gas mileage

How to Check Tire Pressure (And What To Do Next)

First and foremost, always check your tire pressure when your car is “cold”, or before you begin driving. Don’t add air after a long drive. Air molecules expand when it’s warm (even after a few miles of driving!) and can give you an inaccurate read of tire pressure.

Second, you’ll need an air pressure gauge to check the air pressure in your tires. You can pick up one at any automotive store—or even your local market. Remember: It’s best to check your tire’s air pressure after it’s been sitting for an hour or more—you’ll get the most accurate reading and you’ll be able to put in the accurate amount of air.

Last, you want to maintain proper tire pressure moving forward. Tire pressure is important for preventing a flat or tire blowout—but it also helps you to achieve optimal handling of your vehicle. Improper tire pressure can, instead, place unnecessary stress on your rubber wheels.

Choose Suburb Service: Your Subaru Tire Pressure Experts Near Seattle, WA

Keeping your car maintained in the winter is so important. Before it gets too cold, it’s best to winterize your Subaru—and check the tire pressure ASAP. Avoid waking up to a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) warning on a cold Seattle morning by preparing your tires now.

Need help with tire maintenance? Ready for a new set of tires on your Subaru? We’re always here to help. Suburb Service offers excellent maintenance and repair service to Subaru owners in and around the Seattle area. To schedule a maintenance appointment or to schedule a repair service, contact us at (206) 364-8089 or fill out our online appointment request form. Show your Subaru some love.

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