Which tire pressure gauges are best?
Maintaining proper air pressure in your vehicle’s tires is critical for safe driving. Operating your vehicle on either under-inflated or overinflated tires is hazardous. To make sure you are safe, you need to check the air pressure in your tires with a reliable tire pressure gauge.
The best tire pressure gauge will be accurate and durable. The JACO ElitePro Digital Tire Pressure Gauge, for example, is a top choice for consumers because it can measure tire pressure down to 0.1 pounds per square inch, and it is made with premium steel and brass components.
What to know before you buy a tire pressure gauge
Never eyeball your vehicle’s tire pressure
It is impossible to tell if your vehicle’s tires are properly inflated just by looking at them. The only way to know for certain is to use a tire pressure gauge. However, it is not recommended that you rely on public tire pressure gauge readings at a gas station because it is impossible to know how accurate the gauge is. The best option is to purchase your own tire pressure gauge. The buyer’s guide for tire pressure gauges at BestReviews offers a comprehensive look at these essential auto tools.
It is dangerous to operate your vehicle with improperly inflated tires
It doesn’t matter if your tire pressure is too low or too high because both conditions are hazardous.
Low tire pressure: If your tire pressure is too low, your tires will wear out more quickly. Additionally, handling won’t be optimal, your fuel consumption will increase and under-inflated tires can get hot and experience tread separation or blowout.
High tire pressure: If your tire pressure is too high, not enough of your tire’s surface will be in contact with the road. This means your tires won’t be able to grip the road as well as they should, and the center portion of your tire will wear out more quickly.
What to look for in a quality tire pressure gauge
Analog vs. digital tire pressure gauge
The two basic types of tire pressure gauges are analog and digital.
Analog: There are two types of analog tire pressure gauges: a pencil gauge and a dial gauge. The pencil gauge is small, thin and inexpensive. It can reach the inner tires on trucks and RVs. On the downside, it can be hard to read and isn’t as accurate as other options. On the other hand, the dial gauge is easy to read, durable, reliable and accurate. It features a tube that can connect to hard-to-reach valves. However, it won’t fit easily in a glove compartment and isn’t as precise as a digital gauge.
Digital: A digital tire pressure gauge is lightweight, easy to read, very precise and features an automatic shut-off to prolong battery life. On the flip side, it requires batteries — which are an additional cost, may run out and might not work in low-temperature weather — and is more expensive. Additionally, a digital tire pressure gauge is not as rugged as other models.
Pressure reading range
All tire pressure gauges have a range that they can measure. Some models may only be designed for cars and motorcycles, while others may be suitable for trucks, RVs and bicycles. The rule of thumb is to buy a tire pressure gauge that offers twice the pressure you need. For example, if your car tires require 30 pounds per square inch, a gauge that can go up to 60 pounds per square inch is recommended.
How to use a tire pressure gauge
It is best to test your tire pressure in the morning before driving your vehicle.
- Unscrew the stem cap from your tire.
- Carefully line up the tire pressure gauge and quickly place it over the valve stem on your tire, making sure you get a good seal — there should be no hissing sound.
- If possible, you can check the tire pressure now. If not, quickly remove the tire pressure gauge and check the reading.
How much you can expect to spend on a tire pressure gauge
The price range for tire pressure gauges runs from roughly $5 for a basic pencil gauge to $30 for a top-end digital gauge.
Tire pressure gauge FAQ
Where do I find the correct tire pressure for my vehicle?
A. The first and best place to look is your owner’s manual. If you do not have access to your owner’s manual for any reason, the information should also be listed on the placard that is attached to the door edge of the driver’s door, the glove box or the fuel door. This is an important aspect of how to use tire pressure gauge properly.
What is cold inflation pressure?
A. When your tires are rolling, they build up friction and heat up. When they are hot, the air pressure inside your vehicle’s tires will increase; when they are cold, the air pressure will decrease — this is why the Tire Pressure Monitoring System alerts drivers that their tire pressure is low when temperatures drop in winter. Cold inflation pressure is the pressure your tires should be at when they are cold. Tires are considered cold after the vehicle has been parked for more than three hours or driven less than a mile at moderate speeds. This is why the best time to check the air pressure in your tires is first thing in the morning before driving.
What’s the best tire pressure gauge to buy?
Top tire pressure gauge
What you need to know: This well-built, highly accurate digital tire pressure gauge is a top choice for dependability.
What you’ll love: This model features a durable build with a swivel design for convenience. It has a wide range, making it suitable for measuring the air pressure in any type of tire. The display is easy to read, protected by a rubberized case.
What you should consider: When the gauge is removed from the valve stem, some users noted the reading decreased slightly – for most, this was just a decrease of 0.5 to 1 pounds per square inch.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top tire pressure gauge for the money
What you need to know: This affordable, dual-head tire pressure gauge is designed for truck and RV tires.
What you’ll love: This tire gauge is best for dual wheels or other difficult-to-reach valves. It has been calibrated to register tire pressures ranging from 10 to 150 pounds per square inch in 2-pound increments. The built-in hook makes hanging a storage option.
What you should consider: This tire pressure gauge is larger and heavier than other options.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: For the individual who doesn’t want to worry about the battery in their tire pressure gauge dying between uses, this analog model is the perfect solution.
What you’ll love: This is a top-rated, highly accurate tire pressure gauge. It has a hefty feel in your hand and features a 360-degree swivel chuck for convenience. The large glow dial is easy to read, and the unit is suitable for pressures up to 60 pounds per square inch.
What you should consider: While it doesn’t affect the performance, a few users would have preferred a braided hose for increased durability.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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