How Long is it Safe to Drive a Car with Low Tire Pressure?

Car with low tire pressure

How long is it safe to drive with low tire pressure?

It’s not safe to drive with low tire pressure beyond 20 minutes or 10 miles. The TPMS (Tire-Pressure Monitoring System) light of your car may turn ON indicating low pressure in one or more tires.

The best way to avoid any kind of hassle or risk is to drive the car at the lowest possible speed, avoid potholes, and take it to the nearest repair center to refill the air or get the tires fixed in case of any damage caused.

What happens if you drive with low tire pressure?

Driving with low tire pressure can lead to unfortunate events like accidents and blowing up of the car.



Numerous accidents occur every year as a result of poor maintenance and low level of tire pressure or other tire problems.


Blowing up of the car tire

The actual peril of driving on tires with low pressure is that it raises the probability of them blowing up. This poses a grave threat especially if you are driving at a high speed or even close to 25 miles per hour.

If you are driving in the left lane of a freeway when this occurs, it could cause alarming repercussions.


What is considered low tire pressure?

An overall decrease in tire pressure up to 25 percent compared to the ideal level is considered to be severely low.

On average, an ideal level of pressure for any car should be between 33 to 36 PSI.  In 2008, a law was established in the United States calling for car manufacturers to come up with TPMS as a criterion to ascertain low pressure.

A warning light indicating low tire pressure will show up in this system when the air pressure of the tire drops to 25 percent or below the manufacturer’s recommended PSI level.


How low can tire pressure be before it is unsafe?

On average, 20 pounds per square inch (PSI) is the lowest tire pressure that can be considered safe for a car tire.

Any level below 20 PSI is regarded as a blowout and puts the car at the risk of a potentially destructive puncture.


What causes low tire pressure?

Some causes of low tire pressure factored in by car experts are nail piercing in the tire, anticipated refill, temperature alterations and worn-out tires.

  • Nail piercing in the tire
  • Anticipated Refill
  • Temperature Alterations
  • Worn-out Tires


Nail piercing in the tire

It’s natural for the nails on the road to puncture the car tire. As a result, the car starts to slowly let out air that makes the low tire pressure light switch on.


Anticipated Refill

Your car tire may have run out of air and needs a refill. Firstly, the tire pressure light will give out a reminder of the necessity of a tire refill. You may be required to lead your vehicle for a refill to the nearest gas station. This is possibly the most frequent and manageable tire pressure problem.


Temperature Alterations

When there is any change in the atmospheric temperature, it can affect the air density of the car tires. This may not pose a major problem but it is something that needs to be attended to in due course. This is specifically relevant during cold weather.

The cold temperature can impact your tire air and it may drop the tire’s solidity, which will result in tire deflation.


Worn-Out Tires

When your tires stretch out to the end of their life, they may not hold as much quantity of air as they used to earlier. If your tires are run down due to extensive usage, or have worn grip, and are facing problems maintaining the air pressure, then it will be an ideal time for a tire replacement.


Effects of driving with low tire pressure

Some effects of driving a car with low tire pressure are a drop in mileage, elevated level of fume secretions, low traction level and decline in tread life or high probability of tire failure.

  • A drop in mileage
  • Elevated level of fume secretions
  • Low traction level and decline in tread life
  • High probability of tire failure


A drop in mileage

A low tire pressure causes a considerable drop in the mileage. For instance, if the pressure is as low as 6 PSI, the car’s mileage is bound to lower down by at least 5%. Accurate tire pressure will only have a positive impact on your car’s handling and mileage.


Elevated level of fume secretions

Low tire pressure also leads to high fume secretions because of low fuel economy. As a car owner, you may be forced to refuel more often and also do away with the fact that the tires will absorb a lot of energy to run the car. This spikes up emission levels of the exhaust system.


Low traction level and decline in tread life

Small tread life leading to low traction is a result of low tire pressure. Insufficient pressure in the tires can cause close to a 25 percent decline in tread life.

You will have to switch the tires frequently to avoid safety hazards by using them past the lowest tread block.


High probability of tire failure

A failed car tire is the most detrimental effect of low tire pressure. When the exterior coating of the tire comes in contact with the road more than required, the abrasion level rises.

Abrasion led by heat can additionally cause the tire to puncture or the tread to split. The most evident outcome could be an accident.


Low tire pressure Vs high tire pressure

A low-pressure or high-pressure tire loses the steadiness of the tires, negatively impacts car control and brings the car to a halt. Below are a few points to be considered while comparing both kinds of pressures in the car


  • Worn-out tires – Low-pressure tires display signs of wear on the exterior edges of the tread while high-pressure tires display damage in the midst of the tread. Both situations lead to a worn-out tire and add to the expense of tire replacement.


  • Flex – A low-pressure tire will have an increased level of flex while cornering and halting. The tires do not show resistance as rapidly as they would if they were accurately inflated.

    Eventually, you end up losing performance and safety gains built-in by the carmaker. High-pressure tires can drop traction because of the deformity in the shape of the tire due to unnecessary air pressure and deplete the tire’s track on the road.


  • Degree of Damage – High-pressure tires can be susceptible to higher damage as they are harder and may not respond well to road pitfalls like potholes. The drive could be noisier and harder. In comparison, if a low-pressure tire is driven around potholes, it may result in a flat tire.


How to fix low tire pressure?

Refilling the air in the tires is a fast and simple way of fixing the low tire pressure problem of your car. However, to do it accurately, it is good to be well-prepared.


Tools required:

  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Automatic air pump
  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench



  1. Pullout the cover of the valve stem

Ensure that the tires are cold while filling the air and monitor the pressure. After this, unfasten the plastic top situated on the valve stem. On rims made out of steel along with wheel covers, you may be required to detach the wheel from the cover. The plastic top must be stored properly to screw in its place again and also to avoid any dirt collection in the system.


  1. Evaluate the pressure

The next step is to measure the air pressure already present in the tire. The edge of the hose of the gauge must be positioned on the valve stem. Push hard enough to prevent a hissing sound. Observe the reading and check the needle if it leaps instantly. While using digital gauges, you should press a button to initiate it.


  1. Scrutinize the ideal tire pressure

After determining the pressure reading inside the tire, it’s ideal to equate it with the recommended pressure. It can be found in the owner’s manual. Don’t fill the air in the tire if the tire pressure matches the recommended level.


  1. Fill the tires with air using a pump

Position the edge of the hose on the valve stem and secure it properly. If there is a hissing noise, then the inflation process cannot be initiated. With some air pumps, you may be required to tightly press the point of the hose and firmly push it against the valve stem.


Subsequently, begin pumping the air for some time. Inspect the tire pressure in a gap of every 15 to 30 seconds as overinflated tires will also be an issue.

In case of over-inflation, hold down the center of the valve stem with a pointed item so that the tire will begin to release some air. Once the air level touches the recommended pressure, reposition the cap securely on the valve stem.


Is 26 too low for tire pressure?

Tire pressure of 26 PSI may not be a big issue. It may be a problem if the ideal tire pressure in your car is above 36 PSI. In this case, 26 PSI pressure could cause a blowout. It’s best to check the air pressure level in your tires regularly and ensure that the level is as mentioned in the car manual.


Is 27 PSI too low?

Tire pressure at 27 PSI on average is manageable and may not pose a risk to immediate damage. However, if you sense crumbling friction, it may indicate that the tire is feeble and can cause a puncture.

It’s also best to not completely rely on the TPMS warning light as it’s displayed only once the pressure level is close to a risky level.


Is 28 PSI too low?

At an air pressure level of 28 PSI, the air pressure is running slightly lower than the required level in most cars and at this point, you should consider re-inflating the tires.

The majority of passenger cars recommend 33 to 35 PSI level air pressure. The tire pressure level of 28 PSI is not alarmingly low but anything lesser than three or four pounds of the normal level may cause issues with handling the car and may also result in a blowout.


What’s the lowest PSI you can drive on?

The lowest PSI you can drive on is 20 PSI. Any range lower than 20 PSI is regarded as a puncture and poses a risk for a dangerous blowout.

Over ninety percent of cars are equipped with standard passenger tires and the lowest tire pressure on such tires is 20 pounds per square inch.


Why is my tire pressure light still ON after filling tires?

If you have filled the air in your tires to the accurate pressure but the pressure light stays ON, then you may have a rupture.

Another reason could be due to a problem in the TPMS of one or all tires. It’s recommended that you first inspect the rupture in the tire. You can utilize a tire gauge to examine the air pressure in all four tires of your car.


Can low tire pressure cause wobble?

Yes, low-pressure tires can cause wobbling of the car. Low tire pressure can often cause low reverberence pulsation, which can cause the wheel to wobble.

When a car’s right tire has low pressure, its resonance frequency reaches around 40 mph. Hence, the wheel imbalance clubbed with this speed results in a noticeable wobble.


Why is low tire pressure light ON with new tires?

The low tire pressure light comes ON with new tires as the tracking system may need to refresh its memory about the wheel placement of every sensor. This can also happen when the tires are rotated.

Few modern cars are equipped with this function to automatically activate the light when the car is in motion.

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