Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: What Happens if I Overinflate My Tires?

asked by on

What happens if I overinflate my tires?

Inflating tires to the correct pressure is one of the most important factors when inflating a tire. Both under and, over-inflating a tire can actually be detrimental to the performance of a vehicle and to the life of a tire.

When you over-inflate a tire, the air pressure inside the tire is increased and pushes on the inner walls of the tire with increased pressure. This increase in pressure causes along the insides of the tire causes the it to become stiffer than normal, taking away from its performance and affecting the overall performance of the vehicle in a number of ways.

Over-inflating tires causes the sidewalls and tread of the tire to become harder than normal. This can reduce the traction and performance of the tire, as well as cause uneven tire wear. When the pressure is increased beyond the recommended pressure, the contact patch of the tire actually shrinks. The increased pressure causes the center of the tread to protrude further out than the rest of the tire tread. This is a problem because now the majority of the tire’s traction is coming from only the center of the tire, reducing the overall contact patch of the entire vehicle. This is also why overly-inflated tires show signs of uneven wear along the center. Over-inflated tires will show signs of accelerated wear along the center, because the center is making more contact with the road than the outside edges are. This same decrease in contact surface can also cause a drop in mpg, as the engine now has to work harder to compensate for the reduced contact patch.

Over inflating tires can not only be detrimental to the performance characteristics of a vehicle, it can also take away from the comfort and safety of the vehicle as well. Overly-inflated tires will also cause the vehicle to have a harsher, more unstable ride than properly inflated ones. Tire sidewalls are meant to support the vehicle as well as absorb some of the shocks and bumps from the road’s surface as the vehicle drives over it. When the tire is overly-inflated the sidewalls become harder, and instead of absorbing the road bumps and shocks, they are transferred straight through to the vehicle’s suspension. This can result in a harsher ride, as well as increased road noise from the tires. In severe cases, when dealing with older or severely overinflated tires, the tire’s sidewall may even be put at risk to blowing out due to the increased pressure.

It is generally recommended that the tire’s on a vehicle always be inflated to the proper manufacturer’s suggested pressure, and never past maximum pressure indicated on the sidewalls. Keeping the tires at the suggested pressure, as well as rotating them at regular intervals, is the best way to ensure that you get the best performance as well as the longest life out of your tires.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. What Happens if I Overinflate My Tires?

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: What does the check tire pressure warning mean?

Your car’s tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is designed to alert you if one of your tires drops below the threshold pressure (PSI). It does this by turning on the Low Tire Pressure light on the dash. However, you will...

Q: I am burning WAY too much gas for the year and maintenance quality of the car

Hi, thanks for writing in. This may be a sign of a clogged catalytic converter. As you may already know, the catalytic converter converts toxic exhaust gases into less harmful pollutants that are suitable to be expelled into the atmosphere....

Q: stiff steering wheel after adjusting tire pressure.

The pressure would have to be very low for it to affect your steering effort. But maybe it is. Most auto stores have a basket of tire gauges that they sell on the counter for a few dollars. Most of...

Related articles

How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...