Driving with low tire pressure is expensive and dangerous. Not only does low tire pressure reduce fuel efficiency and cause your tires to wear out prematurely, but it's also a major safety concern. For these reasons, all new cars are required to have tire pressure monitoring systems. However, what about older cars that don't have these nifty systems?
Answer: Believe it or not, you can check your tire pressure with your iPhone. All you need is a clear photo and a special app from NeoMatrix.
How The Tire Pressure App Works
“Our technology is based on computer vision”, explained Kfir Witman, Neomatrix founder and CEO . The app uses your iPhone’s camera to scan the tire and analyze the shape. If the app determines your tire pressure is low, it provides the nearest service location and how much pressure you need to inflate them properly.
The TireCheck app is currently free in the iTunes store. After downloading and launching the application, select the make then model of your vehicle. You’ll need to know the size of your vehicle’s tires (NOTE: If you're not sure how to read your tire sizes, check out What Do Tire Numbers Mean). If you don’t see your information listed in the app, you can enter it manually.
How To Use TireCheck Lite
Once the app is set up for your vehicle, select the tire location you wish to scan. The app defaults to the front driver’s side tire, but you can swipe to change the location. Align the circle on your screen with your tire and select the play button. You’ll need to be looking at the tire straight on with the tire lined up with the circle. Keep your phone vertical. Proceed to the next tire or shake your phone to erase the previous reading and rescan the tire. You can review the app’s reading at any time by selecting the summary button.
Does It Work?
Yes, but it takes some practice. Lining up the scanner with the tire is a bit tricky. Frankly, in the time it takes to figure it out the first time, you could have checked your tires with a tire pressure gauge...but with practice, the time needed would decrease.
- The first time you use the app, do it in a warm location. Trying to calibrate TireCheck Lite while shivering is an effort in futility.
- The readings aren’t dead-on, but within reason of what you’d get from a tire pressure gauge.
Once you figure out the proper scanning distance and angle, TireCheck becomes pretty handy.
While the app isn't perfect, it can help the everyday person keep tabs on their tire pressure without getting their hands dirty.
The TireCheck Lite app is available for the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and iPad mini. Neomatrix is currently working on a version for the Android marketplace as well.
Why Should I Care About Tire Pressure?
According to EPA estimates, low tire pressure can reduce fuel economy 2-3% - which means low tires can cost you a few dollars a month in wasted gas...not to mention that low tire pressure means your tires will wear out faster. (More about fuel economy in this article.) One university study of a trucking fleet found that proper tire inflation lengthened tire life about 10% - nothing to ignore considering a set of tires cost $500+.
More important than money, low tire pressure puts you and your passengers in danger. Under-inflated tires have greater rolling resistance, which means they heat up faster than a properly inflated tire. As tire temperature increases, the risk of catastrophic tire failure (blow-outs, tread separations, etc.) increases as well. Whether you have an iPhone or not, you really should take the time to check your tire pressure regularly (every time you fill-up is a good practice).
Now that you know why and how, go check your tires! Your wallet will thank you.