Knowing how to inflate tires properly can save you quite a few dollars at the gas pump, plus it will help the tires last longer and improve the comfort and performance of your ride. If you aren't sure how to inflate tires, for instance how much pressure or how to measure it, read on to learn just how simple this vital bit of vehicle maintenance can be!

Tire Tread

The most important part of how to inflate tires is measuring the tire pressure. Do you have a tire pressure gauge? If not, any auto parts store, hardware store, or large discount store will have them for no more than a few dollars. This little bit of money is well spent, though, as many air compressors don't include a pressure gauge and those that do are often inaccurate. For a few more bucks, you would do well to get a digital gauge.

The first thing you have to know is how much pressure the tires should have. Your vehicle owner's manual should have a section about how to inflate tires, or you can check the label just inside the driver's door or look on the car maker's web site. There is also a maximum pressure listed on the side of the tire, but you will usually be putting in a bit less air than that.

If the tires are inflated to the pressure listed by the manufacturer, the improvement in gas mileage will be noticeable, 2-5% better than under-inflated tires. That's up to 1.5 miles per gallon for a car that usually gets 30 MPG. To put that in terms that are easier to understand, if it costs you $30 to fill up, you'll save $1.50 each time. That adds up!

Even more important than fuel savings are the safety and reliability of your vehicle. Under- or over-inflated tires will wear out unevenly. In time there will be less tread towards the edges or middle of the tire and the tire won't grip as effectively, especially in turns. This can be dangerous! Also, once part of the tread is completely worn down, the vehicle won't pass a safety inspection even if the rest of the tread is fine, meaning you'll have to replace the tire before it's even completely worn out.

One trick the pros know about how to inflate tires is this: less air means a less bumpy ride and more air means better gas mileage. So if you want better mileage at the cost of a little bumpier ride, inflate a bit more - but never beyond the maximum listed on the tire.

Learning how to inflate tires means getting a little dirty, but not very. You must press the tire gauge directly onto the valve, firmly enough that the air stops hissing around it. If the air is still hissing, the reading won't be accurate and you'll be doing yourself more harm than good. If the pressure is low, add a bit and check again. Simple as can be!