Breaking News
More () »

Why does your tire pressure warning light come on when the weather gets cold?

Have you noticed a low tire pressure warning light, even though your tires seemed fine? You're not alone - and here's why it happens.
Credit: ABC24

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Many of us are probably guilty of ignoring a warning light or two on our dashboard. But there's one light you probably don't want to ignore - a low tire pressure warning message.

Of course, this message may be telling you that you've driven over a nail and have a slow leak in one of your tires. Or, interestingly enough, it could be an indication of a recent change in the weather.

October is a big transition season for weather in the United States. We tend to see more frequent cold fronts that bring drastic temperature swings in short periods of time.

But what does this have to do with your tires?

The Ideal Gas Law is a fundamental equation of meteorology. It states that as temperature decreases, so does pressure. In layman's terms, as temperatures decrease, air condenses and takes up less space, causing your tire pressure to decrease.

In fact, for every 10 degrees the temperature falls, you lose one pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure in your tire. 

Since the recommended PSI for many tires is 32 to 35, a drop of 35 degrees can cause the tire pressure warning light to illuminate on your dashboard. 

Experts recommend that you check the recommended PSI for your tires, usually found inside the driver's door, and keep your tires at that level.

This will likely mean taking a trip to the gas station to add air to your tires as temperatures begin to get cooler.

Low tire pressure could lead to poor braking, less traction on wet roads, or even a blowout. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out