Steering You Right with Sharon Peters: Over Pressured

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Q: Two tire questions. Tire shops over the years have inflated my tires, even new ones, several pounds over the manufacturer's recommended pressure. They swear by this, saying tires last longer. When I've kept them overinflated consistently, I don’t think I've gotten more wear from them than I have with tires pretty consistently inflated to the car manufacturer's recommendation, but none have shown the center-tread-wear pattern typical of over-inflation. Follow the car manufacturer's recommendation, or the tire professionals? Also, I took my wife's car to the shop because one tire was low. A sharp object was causing a leak, which they repaired. But they said the tire with the sharp in it would need to be replaced soon because of shallow hairline cracks along the edges. We bought that tire eight years ago, it still has plenty of tread (we drive it only about 6,000 miles a year). Replace or not?

A: My answer to your first question – follow the car maker’s recommendation not the tire person’s over-inflation suggestion. There are several reasons.

Aren’t you getting a pretty rough ride on those overly pumped-up tires? There’s no “give” when you overinflate. I have a friend who overinflates in the winter so the low air pressure signal won’t blink on when it’s really cold, and it’s an awful ride.

But there are bigger reasons. All the tire experts I respect say you’ll experience reduced, not improved tire life when you overinflate. I can’t say I have personal experience to confirm that because I always follow the numbers on the car door, but that makes sense to me.

Other reasons: you’ll get reduced traction with overinflated tires, and there’s a far greater chance of damaging tires when you hit road debris or potholes.

The manufacturer recommends the air pressure that makes the car most stable. That trumps all in my opinion.

Regarding your second question, I’d replace. Tires degrade over time even if they’re mostly doing just a few thousand miles a year. Tread is irrelevant. The chance of an unpleasant incident is high if a tire is more than six or seven years old.

I just don’t believe in taking the smallest chance with tires. When there’s a problem when you’re driving, it can be catastrophic.

What’s your question? Sharon Peters would like to hear about what’s on your mind when it comes to caring for, driving and repairing your vehicle. Email

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