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2010 - How much does change in tire pressure affect tire circumference?

29984 Views 25 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  TTiimm
We know that it is important to maintain tires with close to the same circumference on AWD cars, and pay a lot of attention to keeping identical tires with similar tread depths on the car. I have often seen it mentioned on the forum that maintaining proper tire pressures is also important as tire pressures affect tire circumference. I have not noticed any numbers regarding how much a drop in tire pressure in a tire affects circumference... so I did a little experiment.

I attached a bar clamp to a tire with a long nail taped to the end to act as a pointer. I taped a ruler to a board and positioned the board vertically next to the point of the nail. I inflated the tire (a cold 225/55 17 Geolander G95) to 36 psi and noted the pointer position on the ruler. Then I dropped the pressure in 2 psi increments down to 20 psi...noting the change in position every 2 psi. Then I reinflated back up to 36 psi in the same 2 psi increments.

The pointer dropped 1/32" every 2 psi from 36 psi to 26 psi, then dropped about 2/32" every 2 psi from 26 psi to 20 psi. The measurements were the same while reinflating.

So.... a 2 psi change in tire pressure (above 26 psi) results in a 1/32" change in radius... and therefore a 2/32" change in diameter. 3.14 X 2/32" (pi x d) = a little over 3/16" change in circumference. Double that for pressures between 26 psi and 20 psi.
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I think this whole test is flawed. The chord length of the perimeter circle increases as you decrease pressure, so you cant simply take the measurements as radius and apply the pi*d calc.
Well if you do the math....the fact that it rises and presuming it stays raised as the wheels turn the effective circumference will be effectively the calculated value done by the OP
That would hold true only if the contact area between the tire and the ground was curved. Its flat, so you have to calculate the circumference taking into account the chord length (flat area) increases as pressure decreases.
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