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What is your tyre pressure? (1)

in a survey conducted nationwide on the condition of tyres, improper inflation was identified as accounting for 78 per cent of tyre maintenance problems. Today, I wish to beam my searchlight on improper tyre which is directly tied to what is known as PSI (pounds per square inch).
Assistant Corps Marshal Kayode Olagunju, who conducted the survey, explained that ’’maintaining correct tyre inflation pressure helps optimize tyre performance and fuel economy. Correct tyre inflation pressure allows drivers to experience tyre comfort, durability and performance designed to match the needs of the vehicle.”
His findings show that only 30 per cent of all tyres surveyed had correct PSI while the remaining 70 per cent had wrong PSI. A further breakdown also shows that 34 per cent of the private vehicles tyres checked had correct PSI; 24 per cent of commercial vehicles tyres also had correct psi, while 41 per cent of government vehicle tyres recorded correct psi. The implication is that drivers of government vehicles are mindful of their tyres and regularly gauge them more than private and commercial vehicles drivers. This is made worse by the dangerous role played by vulcanizers and car owners who should know better.
Let me however focus on  a piece I did last year titled, Vulcanisers and tyre blunders, which captured vividly what obtains across board except for a handful of vulcanizers who through continuous training and retraining have upped their game through improved knowledge in their trade. The majority however, still operate with their Stone Age knowledge which is based on guess work to the detriment of the safety of the vehicle owner and occupants. In most developed countries, the law mandates that all vehicles manufactured from 2008 must be equipped with automatic tyre pressure monitoring system (atpms). This device monitors tyre pressure situation every second and alerts the driver through a monitor on the dashboard about any tyre that has incorrect pressure in it so that the driver will take action before it is too late.
Let me inform you that there are shocking blunders by vulcanizers. An experience I had with a vulcanizer paints a grim picture of the danger all motorists could be facing on daily basis. My vehicle has tyre pressure specification of 35 psi by the manufacturer. One day, I drove into a vulcaniser’s shop to pump up one of my tyres. After pumping, the vulcanizer got 35psi reading on his pencil tyre gauge. I checked with my dial tyre gauge to confirm his reading and got a whooping 60 psi. I asked him to check again with his own gauge. Again he got 35 psi while mine still read 60 psi. Why the huge differences in reading? Who was right?
The first blunder is that most vulcanizers use the worst tyre gauge – the pencil gauge – that malfunctions easily when subjected to heavy usage. How? This gauge has a calibrated piston that is pushed by air that comes out from the tyre when connected to the valve stem. The extent to which the piston is pushed depends on the pressure in the tyre. The higher the pressure, the farther the piston will be pushed and the higher the reading. Unfortunately, with heavy usage (as in everyday application by the vulcanizers), the hole through which air passes to activate the piston can be constricted by dust coming out from unprotected valve stem of the tyre and also by the rust due to moisture from the damp air coming out from the tyre.
With the air passage is so narrowed, the amount of air passing through it no more corresponds to the air pressure in the tyre and so a faulty reading results. Worse still, when this happens, there is no way the user will know. It will still be giving reading but highly incorrect readings.

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Editor, Online: Ikenna Emewu
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