How To Stay Calm Under Pressure

One the newer vehicles in my garage has a dashboard display you can dial up with a twiddly knob on the centre console that shows the temperature and pressure of each tyre. It’s driving me mad.

The two rear tyres seem to be OK. The display shows me they’re close to the pressure I think I’ve put into them. Being slightly old-fashioned, I still think in pounds per square inch – (PSI) rather than kilo pascals (kPa); but then, I also still think in terms of miles per gallon (MPG), rather than litres per 100 km (l/100 km). But the front tyres? The display says the pressures are all over the place, and so are the temperatures.

‘There’s a limit to how much technology that was developed for the racetrack is necessary for the enjoyment and safety of road cars.’

There’s a limit to how much technology that was developed for the racetrack is necessary for the enjoyment and safety of road cars. I readily accept things like seat belts, disc brakes, various high-tech materials and certain design concepts were developed on the racetrack and found their way into road cars and have made life better, and safer. But do I really need to know, on demand, how many Gs I am pulling (and in what direction) on the run up the hill to the farmhouse, or what my tyre pressures and temperatures are? Especially when the readout is dodgy, all it does is stress me out. To be honest, I can probably barely detect the 1.5 psi difference the display tells me there is between the left and right front tyres. A better driver than I am would tell you the car is pulling one way or the other, or that its braking or how it turns into corners are being affected as a result.

luxury car

The only reason I know – or I think I know – there’s a difference is because the read-out on the dashboard tells me. It distracts me; and I can’t even be sure it’s correct. The air was put into each tyre with the same device, and inflated according to that device to the exact same pressure, yet the read-out tells me the pressures vary. I rang the dealer’s service centre to have a chat about this. I suspect that when they see my number come up on the screen of their phone system they scatter to all points of the workshop and the person left closest to the phone has to answer it.

This time it was Dom’s turn, and he was relatively patient as he explained to me that these sensors a have a range of accuracy and it’s not unusual for them to return different results to a central processing unit, which is under the floor of the boot. To which I inquired, if they’re known to produce incorrect results, why bother with them? I know tyres are important and yet I get grumpy at the expense when they wear out and need to be replaced. I know that looking after them – not over-inflating them and not under-inflating them – is the way to maximize their life; but I never really know what pressure to put in.

I always get this particular car back from the dealer with what I think are ridiculous pressures: 45 psi in the front, 40 psi in the rear, last time, when the placard on the door frame suggests 40/38 front/rear, respectively. Really, I think someone, somewhere, is guessing at this stuff. And the built-in display is not helping me work out who that is. Perhaps the best course of action is to ignore it. After all, they say that on commercial airliners, nine times out of 10 when a warning light comes on it’s a faulty light.

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