Proper tire inflation and high skiing techniques

Checking Tire PressureI check my tires once a week with a pressure gauge. Now, while some may think this is a bit silly, I think you can never take too many precautions, especially when you love your car and don’t love paying for extra gas. (And there was that one incident on a road trip to New Hampshire – you can drive with 10 PSI, right?)

When I was new to cars, I asked a lot of questions like that, but recently I’ve seen that some internet chatter is circulating about over-inflating tires to maximize fuel economy. The theory being, that since inflating the tires increases the total amount of the tire that makes contact with the road, this will offer better mileage.

Still, while there is some support for this theory – namely from the science behind some of the best movie stunts – most experts won’t advise you to over inflate your tires, unless you know what you’re doing. Stunt drivers inflate their tires to 80 PSI, almost three times what I put in my tires, to perform skiing or high skiing, the trick you’ve seen on TV and in the movies when a car goes up on two wheels.

“When you are driving high skis, you have flat tires,” Tony Petersen, a Danish-born stunt driver, recently told Car and Driver Magazine. “Tires explode, and the car goes one of two ways depending on the surface, potholes and soft spots.”

Over-inflating can be dangerous even for professionals. Petersen, who has never been injured, has blown his tires more times than he can count. And even he uses special tires built for skiing.

Now, while the merits of over-inflating tires is debatable, I’ve found that even going a few PSI over can change the feel. The best recourse is to simply follow the guidelines located on your car door or in your owner’s manual. After all, the Environmental Protection Agency indicates that trucks with 10 pounds per square inch below the recommended tire pressure lose up to 1 percent of their fuel economy.