Study says 71% of European drivers need more air in their tires

Study says 71% of European drivers need more air in their tires
The Bridgestone study checked 38,000 cars in 9 European countries
The Bridgestone study checked 38,000 cars in 9 European countries
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Image by Ildar Sagdejev
Image by Ildar Sagdejev
The Bridgestone study checked 38,000 cars in 9 European countries
The Bridgestone study checked 38,000 cars in 9 European countries

With the spotlight shining on of hybrid vehicles, kinetic energy recovery systems and stop start functionality, it's easy to forget that a very effective way to reduce fuel consumption and cut emissions is right in front of us – air. A study recent study by tire manufacturer Bridgestone suggests that it's not only easy to forget, most of us do forget. The company checked 38,000 cars in 9 European countries during 2010 with results showing that 71% of the drivers were driving on under-inflated tires.

Bridgestone equates the 71% figure to wasting €2.8 billion per year (2 billion liters) due to improper tire usage. And the environmental impact – 4.8 million tons of additional and preventable carbon emissions per year or 1.8g/km for every car on the road.

Low tire inflation means poor tire rolling resistance, which is a major factor in how much fuel a car uses. Bridgestone estimates that taking into account road and weather conditions, tire rolling resistance represents 18% to 26% of the total force on a car. Low tire pressure also impacts on safety by reducing a vehicles' handling ability, increasing drifting and making tires wear out faster.

Other key findings of the study include:

  • 7.5% of vehicles checked were using seriously under inflated tires (0.5 % severely under inflated)
  • 1 out of 14 motorists are putting their safety at risk due to seriously under-inflated tires and/or worn out tires
  • 2% of the tires checked have 30% reduced mileage due to under inflation
  • 11.7% of tires checked had a tread depth below the legal level of 1.6 mm
  • 12.2 million tires are lost because of premature wear
  • 7.5% of checked drivers face significantly higher fuel consumption because of low inflation pressure.
I thought this was a metaphor. Like if an English person comes off with an attitude, I tell her, \"You need more air in your tires.\"
I don\'t trust this study. Bridgestone wants to sell as many tires as possible. They do not mention how many tires were over inflated. Why? Over inflation increases mileage. It also increases wear and instability. They don\'t define what \"under inflated\" is or how it is determined.
Gregg Eshelman
How about a public service announcement with the Aflac duck quacking \"Half flat!\"? ;)
I\'m not sure I understand how if \'over-inflation increases mileage\', it also increases wear. I understand the point about instability, but am I missing something? Ian Colley.
Each car manual tells you the recommended tire pressure. This is normally the presssure for best comfort - not for best handling or economy. If set to this pressure the tire is not under-inflated. But be aware that if you pump a hot tire to this pressure then it will be under-inflated when the tire is cold unless you use N2 instead of air. Be also aware that you loose ~1psi or 7kPa each month. So check the pressure each month or before longer travels.
Never exceed the maximal pressure stamped onto the side wall of the tire. Most modern tires you can use with pressures between 200 and 320kPa (29-46psi). My car manufacturer recommends 220kPa for front and 200kPa for the back tires which is comfortable but not optimal for precise handling. At this pressure my Peugeot shows a consumption of 6.1 l/100km (38.6 mi/gal) diesel at 100km/h (62 mi/h). If I pump them to 300kPa and 280kPa the handling is perfect and consumption drops by 0.3 l/100km respectively I can drive 40.6 mi/gal.
I do this already for 20 years and tires still wear equally over the whole surface.
Where did I learn this? At an advanced drivers course. Go yourself it\'s worth it.
Chris Hostettler