Maintaining optimal electric vehicle tire pressure

The simple act of regularly checking and maintaining your EV tire pressure, along with our other tips and tricks, can unlock miles of efficiency for EV owners and fleet managers.

Maintaining optimal electric vehicle tire pressure

By Marc Prosser

The importance of maintaining optimal electric vehicle (EV) tire pressure cannot be overstated. Proper tire inflation is crucial in maximizing EV driving range, vehicle safety, and tire longevity. This is doubly true in the winter months, which present their own unique challenges.

With the tips and tricks in this article, individual EV owners and organizations and companies managing fleets of electric vehicles can ensure they are optimally prepared.

The impact of EV tire pressure on range

You might be asking how significant an impact tire pressure has on EVs. A collaborative study by the Geely Research Institute, Shanglong Linglong Tire Co., and ExxonMobil set out to examine that question.

Their findings show that tire pressure significantly impacts the driving range of electric vehicles. Other findings included that 48% of the examined tires had poor air retention, with many suffering from high inflation pressure loss rates.

For EV owners and fleet managers, too low tire pressure can result in a 4% drop in range per charge. The study added the numbers and found that if EVs in China had optimal tire choices. The cumulative savings would be 90 million kWh annually. For reference, an Average American household uses 10,500 kWh a year.

Other effects of wring tire pressure

Having tires with sub-par pressure can also create various other issues and problems for EVs.

For example, it can lead to increased rolling resistance, which translates into increased wear and tear on the tires and, in turn, further reduces the vehicle’s range efficiency.

Other issues include uneven tread wear, reduced vehicle control, increased risks of tire blowouts and damaging effects on the vehicle’s suspension.

All of the above effects are magnified in fleet operations, where even a slight decrease in efficiency per vehicle can lead to significant increases in operational costs and energy consumption across the entire fleet.

Winter challenges for EV tire pressure

The cold winter months pose unique challenges for maintaining tire pressure in EVs.

Lower temperatures can cause the air inside tires to contract, leading to underinflation. This situation can often happen if an EV is parked inside when its tires are topped up with air. Cold outside temperatures can make the air in the tires contract, lowering tire pressure.

As we have described in a separate article, this can add to the issues EVs already face in winter, as the decreased tire pressure can further reduce battery performance in cold weather, leading to a noticeable drop in driving range.

Maintaining optimal EV tire pressure

For optimal tire pressure maintenance in EVs, especially in winter, the following practices are recommended:

  •       Regularly check tire pressure: EV owners and fleet managers should check tire pressure to ensure it aligns with the manufacturer’s recommendations. This is extra critical during winter.
  •       Use TPMS: EVs’ Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) can alert drivers to significant underinflation, helping to prevent driving on severely underinflated tires that reduce range and increase the risk of tire failure.
  •       Adjustments for winter: It may be advisable to add a little extra (for example, an average of 0.2 bar) to the tire pressure in winter. However, this should be done after measuring the current pressure and staying within the manufacturer’s maximum recommended pressure. Consult your manufacturer’s guidelines and vehicle professionals before adding more air pressure.
  •       Select the right tires: Using tires designed for your EV and winter tires for winter conditions can enhance safety, comfort, and performance in adverse weather, ensuring the EV operates efficiently.

EV Tire pressure checklist for fleet managers

For fleets, the cumulative effect of maintaining optimal tire pressure across all vehicles can lead to substantial savings in energy consumption and operational costs while also contributing to the organization’s sustainability goals.

A mere change of tires to those with low inflation pressure loss rates (IPLR) could result in significant yearly power savings, emphasizing the need for careful tire management in the era of electric mobility.

Steps toward ensuring correct tire pressure across the EV fleet include:

  •       Educate and train drivers to promote awareness of tire pressure’s effect on vehicle performance.
  •       Conduct frequent vehicle inspections and walkarounds to assess tire condition and pressure.
  •       Ensure tire pressure monitoring regularly and chart pressure drops over time.
  •       Prioritise early tire rotations if you notice tires losing pressure rapidly or are wearing unevenly.
  •       Prepare for seasonal changes and be ready to switch to winter tires.
  •       Adjust tire pressure as needed for colder temperatures.
  •       Maintaining optimal electric vehicle tire pressure

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