Tire Inflation

The sticker inside my 2006 Toyota Camry LE, 4cy. recommends “29PSI.” I have kept it at that level with a monthly check and a compressor at home. Now at 30,000 miles the shoulders of the tires show excessive wear indicating underinflation. I weigh 130 lbs, am the lone driver 95% of the time and I don’t transport or keep heavy items in the car. Toyota’s attitude is, “We are confident that our recommendations are proper for the Camry’s weight and suspension system.” Clearly 29PSI is a poor recommendation. 44PSI is the max listed on the tires but what is the point between 29 and 44 where I should keep the tires inflated? What would be an appropriate inflation level for my Camry?

Put 32-34 PSI in and you’ll never have a bit of problem with them in the future.

Steer tires tend to wear on the shoulders and drive tires tend to wear in the center.

That means the FWD cars will have even wear front and rear, but the fronts will wear more rapidly - about 2 1/2 times faster - EXCEPT:

It is possible to cause more wear in the shoulders by making more and/or harder turns than the average. So a couple of questions come to mind:

  1. Are all 4 tires showing the same wear pattern or just the fronts?

  2. Did you rotate the tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles like Toyota says you should?

  3. Would either lots of turns (city driving) or …Ah… let’s call it “spirited” driving fit your driving pattern?

Are you checking them cold or hot?

You may need to tweek them up a few pounds. Never go to the max listed on the tire. That’s a max safe pressure, not a recommended running pressure.

Another possibility: we used to have a saying when I was young…“if your tires aren’t wearing out on the edges first, you’re not cornering fast enough”. How’s your driving style?

When a vehicle manufacturer recommends a tire pressure spec, it’s a result of testing that was performed that gave the vehicle the best ride, handling, and tire life for that tire. But there are variables that can come into play. For example, if somebody takes freeway clover-leafs at 40 MPH, the outside of the tires are going to wear more rapidly.

What I would try is bumping the pressures up to 32 PSI and see if this has a drastic effect on ride and handling. But don’t run the tires at the max pressure displayed on the side of the tire. This is max pressure that the tire manufacturer recommends for safe operation for that tire. And that’s because that tire can be applied to many other vehicles besides your Camry.


My '96 ES300 does fine with 30. One possiblilty - do you have an accurate gauge (they’re about $10 for this digital one at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00080QHMM )? If it’s off, the tires might be low. Ignore 44 psi, it has nothing to do with your car.

And I second the ‘check when cold’, that means before any driving, first thing in the morning.

Think of tire pressure as being a little bit similar to blood pressure. If your MD told you that your blood pressure should not exceed XXX, that would not mean that he/she wanted you to maintain your blood pressure at that stated maximum level. So, the maximum inflation pressure listed on that tire merely means that the tire may explode if that pressure (44 psi, in the case of your tires) is exceeded. Also, bear in mind that this particular tire size will fit a variety of car makes and models and one pressure (such as 44 psi) could not possibly be correct for all of those makes and models–many of which call for different inflation pressure in the front and rear tires.

That being said, the tire pressure specified by most car manufacturers is biased toward ride comfort, and that pressure will inevitably take its toll on both handling and tread life. I have always followed the “+3 rule”, and I maintain my tire pressure at 3 lbs. over the car manufacturer’s recommended pressure. In addition to giving me better handling, better tread wear and better gas mileage, this gives me a slight “edge” on those unexpectedly cold mornings when your tire pressure goes down by a couple of psi.

If you wish to add 4 lbs. or perhaps 5 lbs. more pressure than Toyota recommends, do so as long as you can tolerate the ride, but remember that if you go higher than 4 or 5 lbs. over Toyota’s recommended inflation pressure, you will be putting more stress on your ball joints and other front end components when they hit a pothole. More air pressure is not better if it means premature replacement of expensive front end components.

I think Tester and others have covered it well. I will add only one thing. Modern suspension and tyres designs are a lot different than the old days when you could accurately judge the correct tyre pressure based on wear patters.

That wear is normal because the sticker is going on the low side to make a softer ride. Yes, you are right about underinflation. I like 33 PSI for Camry tires. I base this on opinion. My truck and the Yaris both have lousy rides anyway.

I agree. I would look for other causes. Sometimes symptoms that point to one cause can be misleading.

Here is a good place to start:

  1. How accurate is your tire gauge? Is it one of those pencil shaped stick gauges? I would recommend a dial gauge or a digital tire gauge if you don’t have one. Accugage is a good brand.

  2. Try checking the pressure once a week for a while. See if that makes a difference. Professional truck drivers and motorcyclists are supposed to check their tire pressure once a week. If it seems like overkill based on your findings, you can go back to once a month.

Increasing the tire pressure beyond the manufacturer’s recommendation might only treat the symptom instead of the real problem.