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Tire Gauges Under Pressure

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The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration ruled that all passenger cars must have tire pressure monitoring systems starting in Model Year 2006. The group says many lives will be saved with the new addition, and as local tire businesses will tell you, having the right pressure is critical to your car's safety.

"Their handling, their cornering, their braking -- all of these aspects are engineered with a specific tire pressure in mind," said Mike McAleese, the manager of Discount Tire Company. "It's very important for that vehicle to handle the safest way it was designed to do, that the tire have that amount of pressure in them."

Discount Tire was kind enough to make sure one of our news vehicles had the proper PSI of air pressure in the tires, and also gave us a complimentary tire gauge. We then headed out to six gas stations around town. Why?

The NHTSA reports 20 percent of the nation's stations that provide customers with tire gauges on their air pumps over-report tire pressure by at least four PSI.

At the six stations we stopped at, four of their gauges came within two PSI of what our gauge told us. However, at the other two stations, the air pressure was over-reported by eight PSI.

Tire experts say a monthly check when the tires are cool with your own personal gauge is a must.

"I think we would sell a lot less tires if people would check their air pressure more frequently," said McAleese. "It's the number one cause of tire failure. It's the number one cause of premature wear."

And one more reason to use an accurate gauge monthly: having low tire pressure means you use more gas, and that's something no one wants to pay for right now.