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For just about every car, there's at least two different "maximum tire pressure" ratings.

  • The vehicle manufacturer's rating. This is usually found on a sticker attached to the driver's door.
  • The tire manufacturer's rating. This is usually found on the side-wall of each tire.

Given this, I've actually got two questions here. I'm fairly certain I know the answer to the first, but would rather the answerers here respond to confirm. The second is really the meat of things, though.

Which rating should be followed when filling one's tires? Should you use the vehicle's rating, the tire's rating, the lesser/greater of the two, or somewhere in between?

What variables can affect the maximum pressure rating that should be used for the tires? Could some major vehicle modifications, such as drivetrain or suspension changes, make the true "best" fill level deviate from one or both of the manufacturers' ratings?

EDIT: For specificity's sake, I added the tag. I'd like this issue more addressed from a safety/vehicle health standpoint, than a racing/performance perspective.

4 Answers 4

10

Bit of background: you can run your tires at various pressures, either under or over the recommendations. Over inflating the tires leads to overwear down the middle of the tire but a nice rigid tire - which is great for track days, smooth roads etc. Under inflating wears the outside edges more, and weakens the sidewalls meaning the tire can move about more - which is good on bumpy roads as they soak up bumps.

The tire manufacturer rating is usually a recommended 'do not exceed' from the manufacturer in order to avoid tire wear.

The vehicle rating is based on the weight of the car and the handling characteristics (including the suspension travel) so is more around handling/comfort.

As an example, my vehicle recommendation is 32psi on the rears and 34 at the front, but I use 36 at the rear and 38 at the front as I prefer the handling characteristics - it points more on corners and is slightly more prone to oversteer. I still keep it under the tire manufacturer recommendation, which on these ones is 44psi unless I'm on a track racing - then I crank em all up to 44/46. Those pressures on the road make it very skittish and uncomfortable.

(caveat - it is a performance car, and I err more on the side of precise control and less on comfort)

Update based on @Iszi's safety request:

If you are within the tire rating you keep the tire safe and reduce the risk of damage. As you raise the pressure, you make the tire harder and increase the pressure on the sidewalls which could be more likely to blow out in the event of hitting the tire off a kerb or pothole. Also, a higher pressure tire will place more load on the shocks/dampers/mounting brackets as it won't absorb so much of the impact from road bumps, so you can expect a shorter life for your shocks.

Realistically, unless you are pushing the performance, I wouldn't expect this to make a dramatic difference to safety or wear and tear. Keep pressures somewhere below the two maxima.

2

Follow OEM. The max rating that is on a tire is usually given to prevent people from over filling, and also it goes along with a weight limit. This means if it says 55, but 80 when maxed roll with 55. If pulling a heavy boat, then you roll with 80 because the extra weight would require the extra pressure for the tires to hold up properly. Bottom line, if you are simply driving your vehicle normally, stick to manufacturer recommended pressure.

0

You only overheat an overloaded tire. I have been in this business since 1969 and taught the trade for a few years. The information is available from the tire manufacturers. I have a table I got somewhere that has like a spreadsheet with pressure across the top and load index down the left with the load per tire for each intersection. A load range 96 tire supports 1104 lb at 24psi,1277 at 28, and 1518 at 35 psi., Maximum load of1565 lbs requires 36PSI.

A load range 106 tire supports 1479 lbs at 24 psi,1541 at 26 psi, which is more than the 96 supports at the factory specified (1996 ford ranger) 35psi. At 35psi the 106 supports 2039 lbs per tire - and believe me, it rides like a bloody plank wagon and bounces all over the road when you hit bumps - which makes for REALLY HAIRY handling. With the tires at 26PSI it rides almost like a car and handles EXTREMELY well - much better than with the stock tires. (The truck has a set of pretty husky sway bars - both ends - as part of the "handling package") Nokian states not to run under 24psi, regardless of load (or lack there-of). And the truck now has 378000km on it - never ANY tire problems (current tires are the 4th set - NONE of which have worn out or failed - they have just "timed out" with sidewall cracking starting at about 8 years on the last set (Michelin) and I do NOT baby it. (Remember I rallied competetively in years past)

I found one reference from Toyo Tires that supports my statement:

https://www.toyotires.com/media/3729/application_of_load_inflation_tables_20200723.pdf

-2

Tire pressures should be reduced when tire size is increased.Simply put, it takes a fixed amount of air (mass) to support a given weight and a given mass requires less pressure in a larger volume and more pressure in a smaller volume. Generally speaking, running a few pounds more than the sticker pressure on a stock tire helps handling and mileage, as well as tire wear, buts rides a little more harshly and MAY be noisier. Going from the stock 215/70 14 tires at 35PSI sticker pressure on my little ranger to 235/65 16 tires requires decreasing pressure to 25 or 26psi. The original tires are load rating 96 and the new ones 106. I have been a mechanic since 1969 and also taught both high school auto mechanics and trade school - and (successfully) rallyed competitively for several years.

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  • Just curious if you have any references to back your idea that the air mass inside a tire changes anything? I'm sure running your 265's at 25psi is a comfortable ride, but you're not doing yourself any favors. Seems like a great way to overheat them and cause a blowout. May 21 at 2:49
  • I gave you the information from Toyo. That is real information, not opinion. Take it or leave it - but now you can't claim ignorance. May 24 at 2:29
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    With all due respect, you "saying" it's from Toyo doesn't make it fact. Please include your references with answers such as this. Maybe Toyo says it is the way to go, but other manufacturers and safety experts would disagree. Running tires below recommendations is why Ford got into so much trouble with their Explorer a decade or so ago. The tires would overheat and blow out, which caused many traffic fatalities. May 24 at 11:30
  • I gave you the link to the Toyo document - did you read it??? I suspect not. What are your qualifications to question Toyo's data?? Maybe other experts would disagree?? I could look up the information from at least 5 other manudacturers that would agree but I'm not doing all your homework for you. The explorer issue was a combination of a poor Firestone tire, mismatched to the vehicle by Ford, with too low a pressure recommended - a true trifecta of bad engineering. May 25 at 19:46
  • I'm not here to argue about it ... realizing you are new to the site, I think you don't understand how StackExchange works. Part of the reason for what I'm asking you about is to bring the information here. That doesn't mean to include a link. It means to bring the information here to SE and provide the link as a reference. I guess you didn't read anything about the site before you started posting, so I'll cut you some slack. You'll probably want to take The Tour and examine the Help Center. May 25 at 21:17

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