If you’ve filled your car tires with too much air, or you need to transport or change them for some reason, you’ll want to know how to deflate them safely. Typically, car tires come with valves that prevent air from escaping, which we can also use to deflate them.
In this article, we’ll teach you how to let air out of a car tire without damaging your wheel. If you happen to own a BMW, you should also check out this article about BMW tire pressure by models.
How to Let Air Out of Car Tire
Follow these simple steps to safely deflate the tires on your car:
Step 1: Locate the valve on your tires. It should resemble a small pipe and be sticking out of a hole on the wheel between the spokes. The valve is around an inch in length and has a black cap on the end.
Step 2: Remove the cap from the end of the valve. You will notice a metal pin located in the interior of the tube–this is used to deflate the tire. Make sure not to lose the cap, as it is an essential component of the valve, preventing external residue from settling on and blocking the valve opening.
Step 3: The primary function of the metal pin is to keep air inside the tire. Using a screwdriver or another similar tool, press the pin inside. You should hear the air whistling as it escapes. If you want to completely deflate the tire, press the pin until the air has completely escaped.
Reasons to Deflate Your Tires
There will be times when you don’t need to completely deflate your tires. Below we’ll go over a couple reasons why you might need to let out some air from your tires, without completely deflating them.
Heat: If it gets particularly hot where you live, the air in your tires will expand, leading to over inflation. This can also happen if you drive fast or recklessly, as the friction between the rubber and the road can cause heat and air expansion within the inner tube. By releasing air, you relieve the pressure in your tire, improving its durability and performance.
Sand/Snow/Mud: To drive more effectively on loose surfaces, you’ll want to increase the area of contact between your tires and the ground. Letting some air out of your tires will make them flatter, giving you more surface area and a stronger grip on loose surfaces. If you’re off roading and your car gets stuck in fresh snow, sand, or mud, deflating your tire can help you get out without having to get towed.
Right pressure: Every car comes with its own tire pressure limits that you should adhere to. Overinflated tires can affect your handling and control of the vehicle, making it unsafe to drive.
If you’re deflating your tires for one of these reasons, you’ll probably need to use a pressure gauge. A gauge tells you the amount of air pressure in your tires, helping you determine if you need to inflate or deflate them.
How to Use a Pressure Gauge
To use a pressure gauge effectively, you should follow the steps below:
Step 1: Find the valve and remove the cap.
Step 2: As mentioned in the above steps, putting pressure on the pin will deflate the tire. Use this same method, except instead of using a screwdriver or a similar tool, use the pressure gauge.
Step 3: As air starts slowly escaping from the tire, the gauge will show a PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) reading indicating the remaining pressure in your tires. In this scenario, the pressure gauge will act as the valve and can be preset to stop letting out air once the optimal pressure is reached.
Pressure gauges typically come with a scale and dial showing the PSI. Pen gauges are the most common, although digital gauges have become more widespread in recent years.
Check the number on your gauge against the tire’s recommended PSI, following the manufacturer’s instructions on how to achieve the ideal tire pressure for your particular car model. You can learn more about this by checking out this related video on how to use a pressure gauge.
Variables that Affect Air Pressure Levels
The recommended amount of air pressure in your tires is determined by a number of variables. We’ll go over these and explain them.
Tread life: If you take a close look at your tires, you’ll notice that they have grooves running along their surface. These grooves are called treads and they provide traction, giving your car the grip it needs while in motion. Overinflating your car tires will significantly reduce the life of your tire treads, causing them to wear out sooner.
Comfort: Your car’s suspension is what ensures the smoothness of your riding experience. However, the amount of air in your tires can also affect how your vehicle responds to bumps and textures on the roadway. Overinflating your tires can increase the bumpiness of your ride, as the tires will become ridge and less shock-absorbent.
Handling: Inflating your tires to more than the recommended levels makes them harder and decreases the amount of surface area that comes in contact with the road. This means that there is less of the tire gripping the road, making it more difficult to handle. There is a higher risk of accidents for cars with overinflated tires.
Fuel Usage: Although it is true that keeping your tires below their recommended PSI can decrease fuel economy, it is a common myth that overinflating them can improve your mileage. The recommended PSI levels are there for a reason, and both under or overinflating your tires can increase your fuel usage.
How to Use a Car Jack
If your wheels are still attached to your car and you want to deflate them completely, you’ll need to use a car jack. A deflated tire with the weight of the car on it might end up damaging your wheel arch and injuring you. A car jack will help elevate your car and prevent this from happening.
Step 1: Park your car on an even, flat surface. This ensures that it won’t roll. If you can’t find one and have to park on an incline, use some wedges behind your wheels. This is important, not just to keep your car in place, but also to avoid injury. The surface should also be hard to make sure that the jack is stable.
Step 2: Pull the handbrake/emergency brake of your car.
Step 3: Put the jack under the frame of the car just behind the wheels (in front of the wheels if you’re deflating the back wheels). A good rule for safety is to set the jack in the middle of the front or rear suspension.
Step 4: For scissor jacks, rotate the jack until it comes in contact with the car frame, continuing to rotate it until it reaches the desired height.
Step 5: For hydraulic jacks, pump the handle until it comes in contact with the car frame, continuing to pump until it reaches the desired height.
If you’re not sure about which kind of a jack you need for your car, you can take into consideration how many times you’re going to use it and how often you need to deflate or change your tires.
Hydraulic jacks have a lot more power than scissor jacks. They are designed for multiple uses in a variety of cars. If you own a huge truck or you use jacks regularly in your workspace, you’ll want to get a hydraulic jack.
However, these jacks are also a lot heavier and more difficult to transport. You cannot carry around a hydraulic jack in the trunk of your car for easy access. Their durability also comes with a hefty price tag and a ton of extra weight.
On the other hand, scissor jacks are lightweight and portable, making them portable and easy to use. Although more affordable than hydraulic jacks, these jacks are not meant for heavy or large vehicles, as they do not have the clearance that hydraulic jacks offer.
The Bottom Line
Letting air out of your car tires is not a difficult job, but there are certain steps to follow to ensure its done properly and safely. As we’ve gone over, using a pressure gauge, setting your car on a jack, and deflating it slowly are the necessary steps to take when doing it correctly.
We hope that this article has helped you understand how to deflate your tires and how to use a pressure gauge for the best possible driving experience. If you want to learn more about cars and their accessories, Automotive Driving Belt has a number of informational posts that you should check out!