Correct Tire Pressure is Crucial
Braking and Driving Characteristics Alter Depending on Tire Pressure
There are a variety of myths and half-truths in circulation surrounding the question: what tire pressure do I set? “Some drive with a lower pressure for the supposedly better grip, while others increase it by 0.5 bar to reduce rolling resistance and thereby fuel consumption”, explains DEKRA tire expert Christian Koch. New DEKRA tests now lead to a clear recommendation. In collaboration with the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University and as part of a bachelor’s thesis, the expert organization tested braking and driving characteristics on a dry road at different tire pressures.
“Several hundred braking maneuvers showed that the lower the pressure is, the shorter the braking distance. However, that is just one side of the coin,” the tire expert pointed out. “Because conversely, our road tests involving slalom courses and evasive maneuvers, for example, showed that lower pressure also leads to a noticeable reduction in steering precision.” The ride becomes spongy. The vehicle is sluggish in responding to steering commands. At higher speeds, it becomes uncontrollable. “Moreover, braking behavior is reversed on wet roads. There, a high pressure yields the shortest braking distances,” said Koch. The results of the series of tests are no surprise to the tire expert: “The requirements that a tire has to meet are very wide-ranging. That is why even the best tire always represents a compromise that must reconcile the various requirements in the best way possible.”
His clear recommendation to vehicle owners and drivers is therefore: “Use the pressure that vehicle and tire manufacturers jointly specify for the respective load condition of the vehicle.” These specifications are generally listed on a sticker on the fuel filler flap or on the B-pillar in the area of the driver’s door. “The compromise works best with the specified tire pressure. As a rule, significant deviations from that have a negative effect due to unbalanced tire behavior.”