While driving, the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) ignition can turn on when you have low tire pressure. In such a situation, you may wonder how long you can keep driving on it and how safe that attempt is.
First off, between 20 and 30 PSI is considered low tire pressure. You can drive, at most, 50 miles in this condition safely. However, the acceptable distance you can drive with low tire pressure will also depend on the driving conditions, e.g., during snow, summer, and off-road.
|Driving condition||Safe driving distance with low tire pressure|
|Paved Roads||Not farther than 50 miles|
|Off-road||Not longer than 10 minutes or 10 miles|
|On snow/winter||Not longer than 30 minutes or father than 40 miles|
|In Summer||Not more than 30 minutes|
In the rest of this post, we will explore the factors that come into play when driving in different conditions with low tire pressure and how to avoid low tire pressure while driving.
Table of Contents
Driving long distances on low tire pressure – Explained
The general safe zone for driving on low tire pressure is not driving for very long. But the best way to give a definite answer is to throw in more context, such as the driving conditions, weather, and handling capacity of the driving experience.
For example, if you get low tire pressure while driving on paved roads, you can keep rolling for as long as 50 miles before it becomes a danger zone. But the situation is different when it comes to off-road driving conditions.
In the latter, you could end up somewhere in the end, so you will only want to go up to 10 minutes or 10 miles after you notice a low tire pressure.
As you already know, gaining traction is more challenging in snowy conditions, so having low tire pressure is an added difficulty. You want to drive up to 30 minutes with low tire pressure in such conditions.
Even with these estimations, the possibility of driving on low tire pressure is still in doubt for some car owners. We will touch on this in the next section.
Can I drive with low tire pressure?
It is possible to keep driving at low tire pressure, but it is not always safe. Drivers do this daily, so it is nothing new under the sun. However, you need to prioritize safety when in such a situation.
Do your tires appear deflated? Is the pressure loss due to a minor puncture? After you examine the tire’s status, it may not be too dangerous to keep driving on low tire pressure, but you’ll need a fill soon.
You should stick to the safe side and get to the nearest gas station instead of taking the risk of driving on. And if you absolutely must do it, there is a certain pressure level at which it is never safe to continue driving.
What is PSI too low to drive on?
If you must keep driving on a low-pressure tire, ensure it is not below 20 psi because anything below that benchmark is considered a flat tire. Driving on a flat tire is risky.
Safety standards do not recommend even 20 psi, but it is the least you can keep driving on before adding air. It is best to stick to the recommended tire pressure.
What low tire pressure can you drive on?
Most vehicle manufacturers recommend that you drive with 32 psi to 35 psi tire pressure, but the specific recommendation for your car will depend on the size and weight of your vehicle and how much load it can carry.
Other handling parameters, like the tread contact patch shape of the car, will also determine how low tire pressure you can safely drive with.
What happens if I keep driving at low tire pressure?
It is better not to find out. However, driving on low-pressure tires beyond the safe distance coverage can result in tire failure, such as a blowout, endangering drivers’ and passengers’ lives.
Imagine driving with 20 psi at 60 mph, and the tire blows out. That will lead to a loss of control at high speed and eventually end in a tragic situation.
Aside from that, driving with low tire pressure jeopardizes the tread of your tires and prompts untimely tire replacement, which means more dollars out of your purse.
For these reasons, it is not smart to keep driving for longer distances when your tire pressure is low, especially at high speeds.
How to avoid low tire pressure while driving
Apart from punctures, factors like changes in driving conditions (temperature), damage to the rim, faulty valve stems, potholes, and prolonged car sitting can cause low tire pressure.
So, avoiding these factors can help prevent low tire pressure while driving. By extension, you will reduce the risk of heat buildup and tire blowout.
The bottom line
Courtesy of the TPMS light, you can always know when your tire is losing air pressure. When that happens, it is unsafe to keep driving long distances.
How long you can keep driving on low tire pressure will also depend on the driving condition, but neglecting this fact can lead to rapid fuel consumption, excessive tire wear, or even worse, such as tire failure, loss of control, or even an accident.
When you notice your tire has low pressure, the next action will be to adjust the inflation pressure with an air pump as soon as possible.