Keeping your tires properly inflated has many benefits. Your tires will wear evenly, which prolongs their life and can improve your vehicle’s fuel economy. When correctly inflated, your tires can perform at their best which means better handling, dependable traction and a more comfortable ride for you.
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Overinflated tires are rigid and stiff causing the tire’s contact patch (the amount of rubber that meets the road) to be reduced. That leads to a “harder” ride as well as uneven tread wear. The most common type of uneven tread wear due to overinflation is referred to as “center wear.” Exactly what it sounds like, the center of the tire will be smooth and worn down while there will be more tread on the sides of the tire. Due to the rigidity of an overinflated tire, it can be more easily damaged by everyday road hazards such as potholes and imperfections in the road.
Underinflated tires do not hold their shape and are flatter to the ground. Therefore, more of the tire comes in contact with the road, causing the shoulders of the tire to wear prematurely. That is referred to as “shoulder wear.” There will be a strip of normal tread down the center of the tire while the shoulders of the tire will be smooth and worn down. Underinflated tires are more flexible when they roll, leading to increased rolling resistance and therefore a decrease in fuel economy.