Cold weather have you deflated?

 

cars.com photo
cars.com photo

The AAA says it’s been flooded with calls to help drivers with flat tires since the weather turned unseasonably cold on Sunday. The auto club says it’s gotten 4,274 calls for people who need help changing their flats, a sharp uptick from the norm when the weather is behaving itself.

On Monday alone, they heard from 359 motorists with flat tire woes in Maryland, 199 motorists with flat tire problems in Virginia, and 68 AAA members with similar troubles in the District of Columbia.

“The pressure on all tires — including the spare — should be checked monthly as a matter of routine, but motorists should check the tire pressure more often when it is cold outside and those tires should be checked with a quality gauge when the tires themselves are cold,” said John B. Townsend II of the AAA. “The weather can exact a big toll on the pressure in your tires.”

Townsend says  just as hot weather causes tire pressure to rise, the opposite is true of very cold temperatures. He said that for every 10 degree change in air temperature, a tire’s  pressure will change by about 1 psi, and if you have a relatively new car, he said that’s why that Tire Pressure Monitoring System is complaining a lot about these frigid days.

Townsend, a former television journalist, is fascinated when compiling information on things like this. He says auto makers warn: “In most parts of North America, the difference between average summer and winter temperatures is about -50° Fahrenheit, which results in a potential loss of about 5 psi as winter’s temperatures set in. And a 5 psi loss is enough to sacrifice handling, traction and durability!”

Townsend does not personally provide the AAA’s road-side assistance, but he wants you to know how to change a tire, so here’s a link to the AAA’s tire changing video.

Ashley Halsey reports on national and local transportation.

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Ashley Halsey III · December 13, 2013