Dave's Cars, Computers, Great Links

A Small Contribution to the World Wide Wasteoftime

Volvo 850 Tire Pressure Label

Do not be misled!

If you're driving a Volvo S70, V70, or 850, chances are excellent that you are running the wrong tire pressures, especially if you read and followed the manufacturer's recommendation on the label on the inside of the fuel filler door.

In an apparent attempt to boost EPA mileage numbers or minimize potential legal liabilites (this failed by the way; a Class Action Suit forced Volvo to pay damages to 40,000 850 owners in the Volvo Tire Litigation Settlement), Volvo has printed the label in such a way that the top line is supposedly for a full load, while pressures more suited to the real non-autobahn world are among enough other information, further down the label, which prevents the "optional" line from looking as if it is related to the pressures on the top line. (An anti-chart, so to speak.)

The "optional" (less-than-full-load) pressures found further down the label are still for a pretty good load (2 front passengers and 1 rear) and are significantly (5 - 7 psi) lower.

So if you're alone in the car and you're using the pressures on the top line (for a full load, but it also says recommended "for fuel economy"), your tires are significantly over-inflated.

Since of course you own an accurate reliable tire pressure gauge and you know to check pressures when the tires are cold, I recommend you base your settings on the "optional" Volvo recommendations found further down the label. The sedan needs less pressure in the rears than in the fronts to perform athletically.

In my opinion, the top-line recommendations are for top speed fully loaded autobahn fuel economy runs, a contradiction in terms if ever there was one.

If you try the "optional" pressures you should experience longer tire life, more comfort, and maybe even better handling.

Too much pressure can be as bad as not enough.

PS: I continually hear of/from those poor, automotively-unenlightened souls and Darwin Award aspirants who have noticed the "maximum inflation pressure" embossed in their tires' sidewalls and can't seem to rid themselves of the misguided notions that 1)this maximum pressure has anything whatsoever to do with operational pressures, and 2)more is always better, so too much must be best. NOW HEAR THIS: the "maximum inflation pressure" is for the tire installer who inflates the tire when it is first mounted. IT IS NOT to be used on the vehicle. It is not to be used, period. It is a limit, to be avoided. Using it would be like specifying a 15A fuse for a electrical circuit that regularly carries 15A -- it is asking for trouble/failure. And if you don't believe in (margins of) safety, then why are you driving a Volvo, anyway?

Bottom line: If you want to know the maximum pressure your tires can hold, look to the sidewalls, but if you want to know how much tire pressure for safe and proper operation of your vehicle, you must refer to information from the manufacturer of the vehicle and not the tires (the tires have no clue what vehicle they're mounted on, how its suspension works, how much it can weigh, nor how its weight is distributed...!).