Quick! How’s your car’s tire pressure?
Don’t know? Better go check. Which, if you’re like most people, means going out, kicking the tire, saying “seems good” and forgetting about it until something is clearly wrong.
Here’s a damned clever alternative: tire caps that change color when the pressure gets too low.
While easily forgettable, tire pressure is actually kind of a big deal. When it’s too low, you’re wasting gas (low tire pressure = extra tire touching the ground = extra friction) and potentially overheating your tire. When it’s too high, you’re screwing up your traction and making it harder for your car to come to a stop. Either way is bad news.
Using a spring-loaded mechanism tucked inside of a sealed housing, a ring around the core of the cap changes from red, to black, to yellow depending on your tire’s pressure. Red means too low; yellow means too high. When the cap is black, you’re good to go.
One catch, though: these things have to be tuned for your tire’s optimal PSI before they leave the factory, which means if you want to swap them onto a different car or you buy different tires, you might need a new set. The company claims they can tune the cap to any PSI level, but it can’t be changed post-production.
And what about thieves? Back in high school, a bunch of kids I grew up with would snag each other’s tire caps for fun on a regular basis (Lamest prank in the world? Quite possibly. It was a small town. There wasn’t much to do.) Surely, a cap that’s quite a bit snazzier than the standard 2 cent plastic plug would make for an easy target?
The company is aware of it, and is working on that. For now, there’s a hex nut at the base of the cap that can be tightened to make it tougher to steal without a hex wrench — but that’s not exactly a huge barrier. They’re prototyping a model with a more complicated locking mechanism, but they’re not yet sure how much they’d need to raise (beyond their original $20k goal) to get it done.
The price varies a bit depending on how many you want (Two for a motorycle? Four for a car?), but at $30 for a four pack, they come in around $7 or 8 bucks a cap.
RightPSI set out to raise $20k on Kickstarter, and has raised nearly twice that since launching the campaign around two weeks ago. If they hit that $40k mark, they’re pledging to add a glow-in-the-dark option for folks who want to strap these on their bikes. Either way, they expect the caps to start shipping in July.