Science With Sabrina: Car Tires In Winter

You can expect frigid mornings as we head into winter. If it gets cold enough, we can also expect the “low tire pressure” light to turn on in our vehicles. It’s common knowledge that this happens. On this week’s Science With Sabrina, Meteorologist Sabrina Bates explains why.

The visual look of a tire becoming flatter is because of a temperature and pressure relationship.

This has to do with the ideal gas law. Each letter represents a part of the equation. A scientist would move variables around to get the right relationship. This is what you need to know: as the temperature drops, pressure drops; and as the temperature rises, pressure rises.

A basic way to explain this is with a balloon. There's a lot of pressure inside of it, since it's blown up. The temperature of the outside surface is near 88 degrees.

Now, I release the balloon and let the pressure lower. The temperature reading dropped a bit to near 80 degrees.

Let's say the temperature drops overnight from a cold front. Not only will you likely wake up to cold temperatures, but you'll also likely notice a small drop in your tire's pressure. A 10 degree temperature drop will cause the tire pressure to drop about 1 to 2 PSI.

To be safe, it's always good to check your tires for low pressure during big temperature drops.

Segment Sponsored By: Sylvan Learning


Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.