Under Pressure

Feeling a bit under pressure about where to set tire pressures for a Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack event?  Have no fear!  With the help of Falken Tires, we will walk you through how to gauge when you have them set correctly, and what steps to take if you don’t!

One of the most common questions we get at a Track Night in America event is about where to set tire pressures. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as just recommending one pressure for all.  All the different tires, not to mention the vehicle types and their weights, all play a part in where a particular tire should be set to help it last longer and perform better.

We always suggest starting with the vehicle’s recommended tire pressures, which can usually be found listed either on the car or in the owner’s manual. These cold pressure settings should get you started down the right track. Andy Hollis, a TNiA coach who has done multiple tire tests for Grassroots Motorsports Magazine, says, “The cold pressure settings found on a placard on the driver’s side doorjamb is a good pressure setting to start with, knowing that the tire is typically going to increase in pressure by around 6-8 psi once on track.”  He added, “For front-wheel drive cars, I would add another 3-5 psi above the recommended pressures, however.

While that is a great place to start, that doesn’t mean you are finished. When done with your first session, you will want to observe the wear on the tires to see if the pressures are high enough, or still too low.  How do you do this?  Luckily, most tires have a handy visual to help you see if you are getting the appropriate amount of rollover from the tire.  Using the Falken RT615+ we have pictured, you will notice there is a small triangle located at the sidewall transitions to the tire tread. Most tires will have a marker like those found on the RT615K+. But if they don’t, you can always use the line that delineates the sidewall from the tread. These mark the spot where you should see the wear stop.  If the wear goes further down the sidewall, you should add pressure. If it isn’t near the mark, you can begin bleeding pressure out of the tire. But you don’t want to be too hasty to let pressure out.  For this Andy recommends a slow and steady process.

“When you observe the sidewall rollover, you can reduce pressure to bring it closer to the edge. But only reduce pressure one or two PSI at a time,” Hollis said. “You don’t want to let too much out and end up rolling the tire over more than it should be.”

Following these steps should set you up for success, and will help prolong the life of your tires as you head out to experience the thrill of driving on track!  For a deeper dive into tires, and what to inspect between sessions, our friends at Tire Rack put together a great article you can find by clicking this link.  So, sign up, come out, and join us for a great track experience, pressure free!