Summer is most people’s favorite season, and that’s because the weather is warm and there are so many more outdoor activities to enjoy. It’s also the most common time for most of us to plan road trips. Even if you’re not driving far, chances are you're driving around more than usual and could benefit from some helpful summer driving tips.

Most drivers know to check fluid levels and make sure their air conditioning is working well for the hot summer driving months, but very few stop to think about how the heat affects their tires. The visual condition of your tires is an obvious safety check, but tire pressure plays a huge role in driving safety. Over inflation, especially when combined with high temperatures, could lead to dangerous results like a tire blowout.

How the Heat Affects Your Tires

Heat affects your tires in a few ways, and those range anywhere from a minor annoyance to potentially catastrophic tire failure that could leave you and your wallet hurting.

Your tires are the only connection between your vehicle and the road, so they play a crucial role in both safety and comfort. From the comfort standpoint, your tires are a major part of your suspension, so, when air pressure is too high, your ride and handling can suffer.

From a safety standpoint, tire pressures that are too high can cause unpredictable handling as the tires don’t flex and grip the road as well as they’re designed to. When those high pressures are combined with excessive summer heat, you’ll find steering, handling, and braking performance will all suffer. All tires have a specific maximum tire pressure stated on the sidewall. Anything beyond the stated limit is unsafe and could cause  damage to your vehicle, its occupants, and even pedestrians or other motorists surrounding you.


Here are a few common sources of increased tire temperature to be aware of:

  • Ambient temperature: For every 10°F change in air temperature, tire pressure can increase by one (1) PSI.
  • Road surface temperature: Asphalt can be 40-60 degrees hotter than ambient air temperature.
  • Friction: The simple act of tires rotating causes friction-based heat increases, with turning and braking causing the tire carcass to flex and increase heat as well.

How to Avoid Negative Effects of Tire Heat

Luckily, it doesn’t take a lot of work to avoid heat-based tire problems. Here’s a simple list of things you can do to keep you, your family, and everyone around you safe:

Cold Tire Pressure

Check your tire pressure first thing in the morning, before your tires are exposed to direct sunlight and have had time to build up heat. Adjust your tire pressures as needed to meet your vehicle’s tire pressure recommendations. Do not use the tire pressure listed on the tire’s sidewall, as that’s the maximum pressure allowed, and your tire pressure should never exceed this number. Use your owner’s manual or the driver’s door jam for the correct cold tire pressure. Invest in a quality tire pressure gauge you can keep in the car with you, as even factory-installed TPMS sensors can’t always be relied on. Keep in mind that basic versions only measure variations between tires, not always excessive changes that affect all tires simultaneously.

Summer Tires

If you live in an area that sees high summer temperatures, it’s probably worth investing in a set of summer-designated tires. All-season tires will suffice if that’s what you have and don’t want set of seasonal tires, but the rubber compounds, tread design, and overall tire construction of summer tires are optimized to summer driving conditions.

Speed Limit

This should go without saying from a legal standpoint, but avoid exceeding posted speed limits. High speeds increase friction which increases tire temperature and air pressure, so staying within posted limits will help you maintain appropriate tire temperatures and save money on fuel—and potential speeding tickets.


As mentioned previously, friction creates heat, and that increases tire temperatures. If your car’s suspension is out of alignment, that’s another potential cause of increased tire temperature. Plus, a proper alignment means more predictable handling and saves you money on tires in the long run by avoiding excessive wear. Visually examine your tires regularly for any signs of odd wear, and take your car into a qualified alignment shop for inspection if you’re in doubt.

Winding Roads and Heavy Braking

If you like driving for the simple joy of it, you might find yourself on some winding back roads, or if you have a heavy commute that involves a lot of heavy braking, that all equates to added friction and heat increases. Keep that in mind and watch for any of the previously mentioned signs of excessive heat and air pressure.

What about running extra tire pressure for better fuel mileage? 

While there are tires that have been designed for maximum fuel mileage, and have been proven to work as advertised, the idea of increasing air pressure in standard tires for better fuel mileage has been debunked. Just set your tire pressure to its recommended settings and trust that the vehicle manufacturer knows what they’re doing.

Getting into the habit of checking your tire pressures regularly can extend the life of your tires and deliver thousands of miles of stress-free driving. Contact Zohr online or call/text us at 816-800-9175 if you have questions about the condition of your tires or need recommendations on new ones. We’ll help you choose the best tires for your vehicle, and we’ll even deliver and install tires for you at your home or office.

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