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Car Tires smSome people argue that putting air in their tires is an easy task, though many drivers could benefit from a step-by-step guide. Everyone has to start somewhere, and when new drivers have simple steps they can follow, it can alleviate the potential stress of the situation and make ordinary “fill-ups” just as quick and easy as others describe them.

How Often Should You Put Air in Tires?

There is no strict timeline for how often to fill your tires, but some good rules of thumb include the following: Tires can lose up to one pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure a month; check and fill them more often in the winter than in warmer weather, and if you drive on older tires, be aware that they’ll lose air more quickly than brand-new ones.

What Happens if Tires Aren’t Kept Inflated?

Running a vehicle on underinflated tires can be equal parts unsafe and expensive. When your tire’s pressure is low, its sidewalls move and flex more than they should, generating excess heat. If the temperature increases too much, it can cause part of the tire’s rubber to separate from the fabric and steel it’s built upon, causing a sudden blowout.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Fill Tires with Air

Understanding how to fill your tires is vital to improving your driving experience and your safety, as well as avoiding costly mishaps. Thankfully, the process is straightforward once you get down to it:

Step 1: Locate an Air Dispenser

Most car wash facilities and gas stations have air machines installed at the sides of their buildings or at designated air-filling stations. Pull up next to one and ensure that the machine’s hose can reach all four tires.

Step 2: Prepare the Valve

Your tire valves should each have a tiny cap on top that screws on and off (don’t fret if your cap is missing; it will not negatively affect the tire). Remove the cap from the valve of the first tire.

Step 3: Attach the Air Hose

Attach the end of the air hose to the open valve and press down until you hear air streaming into the tire. Air flows automatically once you push down on the end of the hose, and it's properly seated on the tire valve. Fill the tire with air for about ten seconds.

Step 4: Check the PSI

Use a tire gauge to check if your tire pressure matches the PSI written on its outer sidewall. The gauge will attach to the tire valve the same way as the hose. Repeat the previous step if you find that the pressure is still too low.

Step 5: Repeat

Once you have the right pressure in the tire, replace the tire valve cap and repeat each of these steps for the other tires.

Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated

Filling your tires with air doesn’t cost much — you can typically fill them up for between $1.00 and $2.00 at gas stations — though prices do vary depending on the specific location. Just keep some quarters handy and follow the steps above, and you’ll have full tires in no time.

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