We often overlook our car tyres and expect them to keep running until they finally wear out. However, proper tyre inflation is a fundamental aspect of proper maintenance that can affect performance, handling, tyre wear and safety. Understanding what is the difference between overinflated and underinflated tires can go a long way in a smoother and trouble-free driving experience.

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Understanding Overinflated and Underinflated Tires

There is a fine balance that has to be maintained when it comes to the right tyre air pressure. And it is not uncommon to find yourself in a situation where tyres deviate from their recommended air pressure ratings. Overinflation occurs when the tyres are filled with excess air pressure while underinflation refers to the condition of tyres have less than the recommended air pressure. Both situations can have negative effects on your driving and safety.


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Over Inflated Vs Under Inflated Tyres

Overinflation reduces the traction and surface contact with the road, which cause instability and loss of vehicle control, especially on slippery surfaces. The car will respond poorly to steering inputs and may not react as the driver intends. An overinflated tire by 5 PSI can be dangerous in certain high-speed situations.

The effect of over-inflated tyres stresses sidewalls which results in a harsh and bumpy ride. This puts stress on suspension and wheels, leading to increased wear and tear, possibly even premature failure of components.

Overinflated tyres are also susceptible to tyre blowouts or sudden failure at high speeds which can be a safety risk. Fuel efficiency will see a decline over time as tyre struggle to maintain proper grip, with the driver tending to accelerate and brake more aggressively.

Finally, overinflated tyres will wear out sooner than because of an uneven contact patch with the road. You will likely have to replace an overinflated tyre before its normal lifespan.

On the other hand, under-inflated tyres occur when there is insufficient air pressure which can have adverse effects on performance, fuel economy and safety.


With an increased contact patch on the road surface, the vehicle’s ability to grip the surface will be comprised. The driver may find it difficult to steer the vehicle, and this could lead to instability and unexpected handling.

An underinflated tyre will generate more heat than usual which will cause increased wear and tear as well as the risk of a blowout. Under-inflated tyre’s fuel consumption will be higher due to the increased rolling resistance which results in poor performance. The vehicle might find it difficult to achieve top speed with tyres that are underinflated.

The difference between overinflated and underinflated tires is quite obvious. Overinflated tires and underinflated tires can both cause negative driving effects, so it is best to maintain the correct tyre pressure rating as stated by the manufacturer.

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Overinflated and Underinflated Tires Pros and Cons

Tyre manufacturers often state that there are almost no pros to over and under-inflation. The only time overinflation can be beneficial is for new cars that are parked in showrooms. This is because they are not driven and as time goes by, there is a slight drop in tyre pressure which brings them back to normal.

Underinflation is sometimes used in offroad conditions, especially deep sand where it can be advantageous to have a larger contact patch with the surface. It may prevent the wheels from sinking into the sand.

The Disadvantages of Overinflated Tyres Include:

  • Reduced traction which can be dangerous on wet roads ice or snow. Also, overinflated tires gas mileage shows a drastic drop over time.
  • Harsh ride quality caused by increased stiffness. Overinflated tyres are not able to absorb impacts on the road.
  • Increased risk of tyre damage and tread wear. It could be possible for overinflated tyres to blow out at high speeds.

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Underinflated Tyres Can Also Have Several Negative Effects Such as:

  • Poor fuel efficiency as the tyre has increased rolling resistance. Even acceleration and braking will be affected.
  • Instability and unpredictable handling with unresponsive steering and difficulty in manoeuvring.
  • There is a good chance that underinflated tyres will wear out quickly, potentially reducing their lifespan and resulting in expensive tyre changes.
  • Additionally, flexing of sidewalls in tyres with low pressure can generate heat and cause failure or damage.

It is clear to see that both underinflation and overinflation pose serious risks to driving. Always fill your tyres to the recommended tyre pressure to ensure optimal performance, efficiency, safety and long life of components.

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A Look At Underinflation And Overinflated Tires Symptoms

By understanding symptoms of excessive and less tyre pressure, you can be better prepared to tackle your daily drives.


Underinflation Symptoms

  • Decrease in fuel economy. You will find that you are filling up at the petrol station more often than before.
  • Poor handling, vehicle instability and rough rides. The steering will feel heavy with difficulty driving in a straight line.
  • Worn-out tyres before their lifespan, together with sidewall damage, cracks and deformations. Tyres will gain excessive heat after even a short ride.

Overinflation Symptoms

  • Bumpy ride as if the suspension is malfunctioning. Even a small speed breaker will through you off balance.
  • Even overinflated tires by 2 psi result in less tyre grip, more tyre noise and difficulty in braking.
  • The Centre of the tyre gets worn easily and may need to be replaced.

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Understanding the difference between overinflated vs underinflated tyres is crucial for maximum performance, comfort, safety and reliability. While both tyre conditions can lead to adverse driving behaviour and damage to components, regularly monitoring tyre pressure with a gauge along with daily inspection will ensure a smooth and safe driving experience.

Have a look at more informative articles on the Carorbis Blog You may be interested in reading about the Top 10 Tyre Inflators in India Learn more about tyre regrooving and wheel alignment here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is underinflated tires?

Ans. It refers to tyres having less than the recommended air pressure. Tyres that do not have the appropriate amount of tyre pressure are considered unsafe for driving. A quick visual inspection can determine if the tyres are underinflated. Underinflated tyres will appear flatter with a sagging appearance at the point of contact with the road.

Q2. How Do You Know if Your Tires Are Overinflated?

Ans. You might see a bulge on the sidewall and have difficulty controlling the car.

Q3. Why Are Under Inflated Tires Dangerous?

Ans. They can cause loss of control due to inadequate traction on the road.

Q5. Is Putting Too Much Air in Tires Bad?

Ans. It can lead to decreased traction, uneven wear, rough driving and decreased fuel efficiency.

Q6. What Do Over Inflated Tires Feel Like?

Ans. It will feel a little bumpy and difficult to control

Q7. What Happens if a Tire is Underinflated?

Ans. It will result in uneven tread wear, difficulty in handling and reduced fuel economy.

Q8. Is It Bad to Have Your Tires Over Inflated?

Ans. Yes, you will not have a smooth ride and the tyres will wear out soon. It is better to keep tyres inflated to the correct air pressure always. There are higher risks of a tyre blowout, loss of control and reduced fuel efficiency. Overinflated tyres can be a safety risk while driving. Use a tyre pressure gauge for an accurate reading of the tyre’s air pressure. Overinflated tyres are not safe and pose a safety risk while driving.

Q9. What Happens When One Tire is Overinflated?

Ans. The vehicle will feel unstable during braking and acceleration. You may lose control of the car.

Q10. Can tires be overinflated?

Ans. It is possible to overinflate tyres by mistake, so ensure that tyres are properly inflated to the right air pressure.

Q11. How much can you over inflate tires?

Ans. It is not recommended to overinflate tyres by more than the recommended air pressure rating.

Q12. How do overinflated and underinflated tires affect traction?

Ans. Both overinflated and underinflated tyres result in reduced traction.

Q13. What Does Over Inflated Tires Cause?

Ans. Increased tyre wear, reduced fuel efficiency and loss of control.

Q14. How much is overinflated tires?

Ans. Overinflated meaning refers to more than 5 PSI above recommended air pressure ratings.

Q15. At what pressure will a tire explode?

Ans. Exceeding the maximum pressure rating of a tyre includes the risk of explosion or at least a blowout.

Q16. Is it better to over inflate or underinflate tires?

Ans. Keep the pressure at the recommended level for best performance.

Q17. Can over inflated tires explode?

Ans. The tyre has a risk of blowing out under heavy stress or in an accident.

Q18. Which is worse underinflated or overinflated tires?

Ans. Underinflation has consequences on handling and stability while overinflation affects ride comfort and traction.

Q19. What issue do underinflate and overinflated tires pose?

Ans. Some negative effects include loss of control, poor ride quality, increased tyre wear and reduced performance.

Q20. What happens if tires are overinflated?

Ans. Over inflation of tyre means the car will feel unstable and handle poorly.

Q21. What is under inflation and over inflation?

Ans. Under inflation is less tyre pressure while overinflation is excessive tyre pressure.

Q22. What does overinflate mean?

Ans. It means the tyres have more than the recommended air pressure.

Q23. What is normal tyre pressure load?

Ans. Each tyre has a unique tyre pressure rating that must be followed for optimum results.

Q24. How safe are overinflated tires?

Ans. Overinflated tyres are not safe and pose a safety risk while driving.

Q25. What is the highest safe tire pressure?

Ans. Do not exceed more than 5 PSI above the recommended tyre pressure.

Q26. How much is overinflated tires?

Ans. Tyres that are inflated to more than 5 PSI of the recommended tyre pressure are considered overinflated.

Q27. Can overinflated tires cause vibration?

Ans. It may lead to unstable rotation due to inadequate traction with the road surface.

Q28. How do you know if your tires are overinflated?

Ans. Use a tyre pressure gauge for an accurate reading of the tyre’s air pressure.

Q29. Are overinflated tires noisy?

Ans. They may cause a rumble or vibrate while driving.

Q30. What do overinflated tires sound like?

Ans. Drivers will hear a loud humming from the tyres while driving.

Q31. Where does an overinflated tire show?

Ans. Check the sidewalls for signs of bulging or irregularities.

Q32. Can overinflated tyres damage suspension?

Ans. Overinflated tyres could more stress on suspension and lead to damage.

Q33. Does high tyre pressure affect steering?

Ans. It will be difficult to steer tyres that are overinflated.

Q34. What are the benefits of higher tire pressure?

Ans. There are no significant advantages to overinflating tyres.

Q35. Does driving fast lower tyre pressure?

Ans. Tyres pressure will decrease naturally over time regardless of driving speed.

Q36. Are high pressure tires faster?

Ans. High-pressure tires do not have advantages in terms of higher speed.

Q37. What is the best tire pressure for highway driving?

Ans. The best tyre pressure is the rating recommended by the tyre manufacturer.

Q38. What is the best tyre pressure for Indian roads?

Ans. The best tyre pressure for optimum performance can be identified on the tyre sidewall.

Q39. Should all 4 tires be the same PSI?

Ans. Yes, all tyres should be at the same pressure for balanced performance and safety.

Q40. Why are front tyres higher pressure?

Ans. It is not recommended to have front tyres at a higher pressure as this will affect handling.

Q41. Is higher or lower tire PSI better?

Ans. The tire pressure should be at the recommended level for best performance. Overinflation and underinflation are not ideal for tyres.

Q42. What does H or V mean on tyres?

Ans. This is related to the maximum safe speed of the tyres. H- max speed of 210 km/h and V- max speed of 240 km/h.

Q43. Which speed rating tyre is best?

Ans. The speed rating of a tyre should match the vehicle’s speed limits, while ensuring optimum safety.

Q44. What does R mean on a tyre?

Ans. R denotes radial tyres that have a tread running in a radial direction across the tyre.

Q45. What does C mean on tyres?

Ans. Tyres with a C load range are designed for commercial use that require heavy load- carrying capacity.

Q46. What Z mean on tyres?

Ans. Z denotes a speed rating of more than 240 km/h and is a category of high-performance tyres.

Q47. What does M and S stand for on tires?

Ans. M + S refers to mud and snow designed for use in icy, off-road conditions.

Q48. What does B mean on tyres?

Ans. This refers to the noise level of the tyre with A being the quietest and C being the noisiest.

Q49. What does dB mean on tyres?

Ans. dB stands for decibels, the unit of sound, referring to the perceived noise levels of rotating tyres.

Q50. What is Li and Si tyres?

Ans. Li is the load index (maximum weight the tyres can handle) while Si is the speed index (maximum speed the tyres can handle).

Q51. Why Double Tyres?

Ans. Heavy truck and commercial vehicles use double tyres to increase load-carrying capacity, improve stability and enhance traction.

Q52. Why is There Arrow on Tyres?

Ans. This is the tyre direction arrow used to indicate the proper direction in which the tyre should rotate when installed in a vehicle.

Q53. Why Do You Rotate Tyres?

Ans. Tyres are rotated to promote even tread wear, maintain balanced handling and optimise performance.

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