Cold temperatures and winter weather can be the biggest enemy to both a tire and a driver due to tire pressure and performance changes that must be monitored.

The exact PSI level of your tire will depend ultimately on your vehicle specifications, but the general rule is for your tire pressure to be between 30 and 35 PSI in the winter. This allows your tires to remain at optimal levels for better safety, driving performance, and fuel efficiency.

With the onset of winter, it is important to know what the right tire pressure should be so you can get the right performance out of your car. Tire pressures vary significantly depending on the type of tires and driving conditions. This guide will help you understand how tire pressure changes during different seasons and what it means for your tires.

If you have ever driven in the winter when your tire pressure light came on, you have experienced what it is like for your tire to lose air to the cold temperatures. In this guide, you will learn how to properly inflate your tires so they can drive at safe levels during the winter.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

HideShow

What Should Tire Pressure Be In Winter?

Most people are not aware of how much pressure their tires require in various seasons. Most drivers, especially those who do not know how to check their tire pressure, will most probably over-inflate them to compensate for the lack of traction on ice and snow.

This is why it is advisable to keep your tire pressure between 30 and 35 PSI in the wintertime. It will help you drive with ease on icy roads without skidding or sliding out of control.

The main reason for this is that snow and ice on the ground can make it harder to maintain proper tire pressure. Maintaining this level of pressure can also prevent damage to the car if you hit a patch of ice.

The tire pressure should be between 30 and 35 PSI in the winter months to ensure that your vehicle runs smoothly on snow-covered roads. This is due to the fact that at lower pressures, your tires are more likely to get stuck or cause hydroplaning, which can lead to loss of vehicle control.

By maintaining this tire pressure level, your tires will be more reliable. When you drive on underinflated tires, you run the risk of experiencing flat tires or vehicle issues.

How Does Cold Weather Affect Tire Pressure?

In the winter, tire pressure can decrease as much as 1 PSI per 10 degrees that the temperature drops. This means you need to constantly pay attention to your tire inflation levels when the weather gets colder.

With colder weather comes a potential decrease in air pressure of your tires, which means that they may not be able to provide you with reliable traction on icy or snowy terrain.

If your car is equipped with a TPMS, you may not have to worry about it too much because most cars have sensors that keep track of your air pressure and notify drivers when something is off.

It is often confused with the notion that air is escaping from inside the tire, but this is not the case. Instead, the air inside the tire will condense when it gets colder.

This lowers the air pressure in the tire which can cause problems for drivers and their cars. When this occurs, your PSI will drop, and the performance of your tires may drop along with it.

What Should Tire Pressure Be In The Winter For SUVs & Trucks?

In the winter, tire pressure should be at a higher level to ensure a safe drive. Increasing tire pressure in SUVs and trucks is not just about safety but increases tire performance and longevity.

The tire pressure of SUVs and trucks in the winter should be higher than the summer tires. It is estimated that it should be between 35 to 40 PSI in the winter tires to accommodate for the heavier load capacities and cold temperatures that will alter the tire pressure.

The average vehicle in this category will operate under 35 PSI nearly all year, but in the winter more air needs to be added to tires to maintain performance and keep tires safely on the road.

40 PSI is the maximum we recommend for these vehicle types, and any higher can potentially pose some risk to both your tires and your vehicle. If you inflate the tire too much, it can become too hard or firm causing your suspension to suffer on your vehicle.

Beyond just suspension issues, your tires will also lose the traction on the ground that you desperately need in wintry conditions. By sticking between 35 to 40 PSI levels, you can ensure proper vehicle control, handling, and steering responsiveness during freezing temperatures.

What Should Tire Pressure Be In the Winter For Sedans?

The tire pressure for sedans can be lower because they are lighter to drive. It comes down to the load capacity on a vehicle and how heavy they are driving on the road consistently.

It is best to add between 1-3 PSI to your tire based on whatever the recommended level is by your vehicle manufacturer. This accounts for the amount of PSI you are losing based on the temperature drops and should keep you covered.

Compared to SUVs and trucks, sedans are much lighter vehicles that require less PSI to maintain high-quality driving.

The estimated PSI should be between 30 to 35 PSI. As you will notice on most sedans, this is higher than the initial PSI levels the tires are at, but it is necessary because of the colder temperatures that cause the air to condense inside.  

Tires are designed to provide traction but they can't provide it without air in them. If you're driving on thin ice, you need more air in your tires, or else they will fail. The importance of tire inflation is paramount for your safety on the road.

Since the levels are lower on sedans, you have a bit more room to spare if you overinflate the tires before you experience issues. However, it is never recommended because the softer winter tire rubber is more susceptible to blowouts or flats when overinflated.

Recommended Vehicle Tire Pressure Levels

Vehicle tires can lose up to 10% of their air pressure when the temperature is below freezing. This is due to air condensing inside a tire due to the temperature drop.

The recommended maximum cold tire pressure for most passenger cars and light trucks is 30-35 PSI, but as you will see below this is not always true. Some vehicles like sports cars use a higher PSI in the tire than you would expect.

Every vehicle will adhere to the rules and guidelines set by the manufacturer. This is why all vehicles come with a recommended PSI that can either be found on the side of the vehicle near the driver or in the manual.

It is recommended to always check the recommended PSI on your vehicle before making any alterations to the tire. The winter level should add a few more PSI to account for the temperature drop that will cause air to condense.

The winter season brings its own set of challenges when it comes to tire pressure management. If you don’t know what your tire pressure should be in the winter, you can use our recommended tire pressure levels for winter driving.

Vehicle Recommended PSI Winter PSI
Ford Explorer 32-35 PSI 37-40 PSI
Honda Civic 30-33 PSI 33-36 PSI
Nissan Sentra 33 PSI 35 PSI
Toyota Camry 30 PSI 33 PSI
Acura MDX 35 PSI 38 PSI
Audi A4 34 PSI 36-37 PSI
Chevrolet Blazer 35-36 PSI 38-39 PSI
GMC Canyon 35-36 PSI 38-39 PSI
Jeep Cherokee 36-37 PSI 40 PSI
Lexus IS350 35 PSI 37-38 PSI

About THE AUTHOR

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

Read More About Charles Redding