Tyre air compressors (tyre inflator) are cheap now, it's worth having one lying around at home in order to keep your tyres properly inflated during this lockdown.
The ongoing lockdown has really made us car enthusiasts worry about our cars.
Being immobilised for long periods is not healthy for our mechanical friends, especially when we're not prepared to rest it for more than two months.
The batteries have depleted, the tyres have lost air, and only God knows what the condition of the oil and fluids are like. Saying that however, it's best to change oil and fluids when we can properly finally get our cars back on the road, but in the meantime, the only thing we can do to keep it tip-top is to stay on top of its battery voltage and tyre pressure.
One cause of tyre pressure loss is the permeation of air molecules right through the rubber, as the air inside the tyre tends to equalise itself with the air from outside. This will happen regardless of whether the tyre is being used or not, but it's worse when the tyre has not moved.
Rotating tyres absorb external air pressure created in the area of contact between tread and road, which is why they lose much less tyre pressure compared to ones that have not moved.
Pic credit: Rezulteo tyres
The problem with losing tyre pressure is that underinflated tyres are more susceptible to flat spotting. A flat spot is a condition that occurs when a tyre has been stationary for a prolonged period-i.e. like most cars in Malaysia right now. The tyre can get a flat spot on the area in contact with the ground.
Maintaining the correct tyre pressure is an effective way to lessen the chances of flat-spotting. Continental tyres say that you should keep the correct tyre pressure to avoid flat-spotting. They also say that If you're about to park your car for a long time without driving, then slightly increasing the tyres' inflation pressure by 3 PSI before parking will help to reduce the chances of flat-spotting.
This might not be easy for you to do if you do not have an air compressor at home, but the world of internet shopping has really made them accessible as well as affordable.
But before you explore the web for one, if you have one of those fancy cars, it's worthwhile checking your boot to see whether it is equipped with a mini air compressor. We know that some of the German manufacturers include them as part of their spare tyre package.
But if you don't, do not worry, as you can get one from Shopee or Lazada at an affordable price.
Most portable or mini tyre air compressors are priced between RM150-RM200 these days. They can be had either in plug-in or rechargeable form. The plug-in air compressor gets its power through the lighter socket in your car, while the rechargeable one is battery-operated.
The advantage of the plug-in air compressor is that technically, it should never run out of steam since it is plugged straight into a power source. The disadvantage of the plug-in air compressor is that it relies on your car's power source, so if the battery is dead or weak, you might not be able to get it working correctly.
The good thing about a battery-operated tyre air compressor is that it is more portable as it is not plugged into a power source, but the limitations of its power through the capacity of its battery is its main weakness. What this means is that it's probably got enough juice to pressurise four tyres before the batteries run out. However, portable tyre air compressors are a bit more convenient than a plug-in compressor.
Since it is portable and does not need to be attached to a power source constantly, you can pretty much use it anywhere, for many different things, such as inflatable balls, bicycle tyres, motorcycle tyres, and even blow up swimming pools.
Even though they are small, they still pack a punch. As an example, the Xiaomi Mi Portable Electric air compressor that I own can pump up a tyre all the way up to 3.5 bar. That's around 50 PSI, and with cars averaging around 32 PSI to 35 PSI when they're cold, you could say it has enough power to inflate them properly.
If you feel like you need a more powerful air compressor, there are many out there that can provide that, but since this is all about maintaining tyre pressure on the cheap, we're pretty sure most can stomach around RM150 for the sake of their car's well being.
If not that, you could also consider the air compressor as a lifesaver, as there have been many times it has saved me or my friends from being stranded due to a flat tyre. It's just a piece of equipment that will come in useful one day, and you'd be glad you own one.
It is recommended that you check your tyre pressure once every couple of weeks, especially if you're planning to drive it out after a long period of it being stationary. If they aren't checked regularly, you can get flat spots as well as the excessive and uneven wearing of the treads.
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