With the weather turning my definition of frigid in the past few days, I’ve become minorly paranoid that my car tires were inadequately inflated. To the point where I’d look at them every time I went somewhere and think, “Is that rear tire softer-looking than earlier? Yes. No. I can’t tell. Blast!”
My car’s dashboard—which keeps tabs on the tire pressure, among other things—led me to believe my tires were in fact low. So, I drove to a local gas station, bought a tire-pressure gauge
for $1.99 and pulled up to an air dispenser that had a large sign on it: “Air – 25 cents”
My first thought? “How much air does one get for a quarter?” That was quickly followed by, “Who gets paid to analyze how long it takes the average person to unscrew four caps, fill four tires and check them to make sure the right amount of air was added? And, “Is air really worth something?” I also thought, “Surely someone has created a self-inflating tire!”
And, it turns out, someone has. Winner of a 2008 Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) World Congress Award, a self-inflating tire system from Coda Development inflates a tire automatically when a vehicle is put in motion, compensating for natural loss of pressure and maintaining constant pressure over the tire’s lifetime.
What a fantastic idea! It turns out at least 27 percent of cars and 32 percent of trucks in America have at least one tire under-pressured by more than 25 percent. This affects vehicle occupants’ safety, a vehicle’s fuel economy and tire longevity. Each year, Americans spend an extra $3.7 billion in fuel because of low tire pressure. Kudos to Coda for figuring out yet another way to make the lives of American people simpler and, of course, safer. Too bad the design is only a prototype.
But then, if my tires self-inflated, I wouldn’t be able to experience the fun of dropping teeny-tiny tire caps and exasperation of a pressure gauge registering six different PSI numbers in six consecutive tries on one tire. In the end, I decided just to eyeball my tires and guess.
Magically, my car’s dashboard agreed with all four of my guesses. Guess I got my 25 cents worth.