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Ensure your driving on correctly inflated tyres to improve fuel efficiency, handling and safety.
So how do you find out current tyre pressure. A device created for such a purpose is a tyre pressure gauge. Using a suitable pressure gauge in combination with a inflator will help to maintain the recommended pressure of the tyres.
Pressure gauges are widely used all over the world to perform tasks varying from measuring different regulatory systems inside a power plant to monitoring the pressure on car tyres. Similar to other measuring devices, pressure gauges should be regularly calibrated to verify they are operating correctly, particularly when they are used for safety purposes. Anyone who owns a car should be aware of a tyre pressure gauge.
Best Tyre Pressure Gauges
The TireTek Flexi-Pro is a good quality non-digital, non-electric tyre gauge that you would expect to be working well after the battery in a digital gauge has died.
This TireTek model come calibrated right out the box so you can go ahead checking your tyre pressures with confidence.
- Range – this model measures pressure between 0 – 60 psi or 0-4 bar perfect for measuring pressure of car, motorbike or bike tyres.
- Easy to Read – comes with a large analogue dial that is easy to read.
- Swivel Chuck – easily rotate the dial so the pressure reading can be read at any angle.
- Quality air hose – the rubber hose has been reinforced to ensure it has a longer life and that less air leaks.
- Bleed button – easily deflate tyre using the accurate bleed button.
- Holds reading – you can have the reading hold after removing the gauge.
The TireTek Flexi-Pro would definitely suit a motorcyclist since the valves on motorbikes can be awkward to reach. With it being analogue you are saved the hassle of changing batteries.
How Often Should You check Tyre pressure
It is best practice to check tyre pressure at least once every month and also prior to commencing a long trip. The AA suggests checking the tyre pressure every fortnight. The consensus is that you check on a regular basis to avoid having under inflated tyres.
To get accurate readings measure the pressure when the tyres are cold so make it a point to park the vehicle for at least 4 hours prior to checking the pressure.
Dangers of Under Inflated Tyres
What are the problems with under inflated tyres? The excessive heat can be generated by the car tyres that are not properly inflated and this can lead to eventual tyre failure. Moreover, there is a huge possibility for the tyres to wear at a faster rate without much air pressure, and this can affect the stopping distances when braking as well as the handling of your automobile significantly.
Finding the Recommended Tyre pressure
The most common places to look include the cars manual, on the fuel cap and the driver side door pillar. The recommended level will be displayed in either PSI or BAR units of pressure. We have discussed how you can find a tyres recommended pressure in more detail in this post.
How to inflate your tyres
Once you have measured tyre pressure and have found that its below the recommended level you need to inflate the tyre using a suitable tyre inflator. The are various options such as 12V units that connect to a 12V power outlet in a car, a mains powered inflator, a foot pump or hand pump. We have discussed picking a suitable unit in our Best tyre inflator – Buyers guide article.
How to Check Tyre Pressure
Make use of a top-quality and properly maintained tyre pressure gauge. Refrain from using those which you will find at the gas or fuel station since they might not be that accurate.
Locate the suggested tyre pressure setting for your vehicle. Inflation pressures usually vary between 28 psi and 36 psi. Bear in mind that there might be a difference between the front tyre pressure and the rear tyre pressure.
Verify the tyre pressure when the vehicles tyres are cold. In fact, tyres are going to become hot once the car has been driven since this will increase the pressure reading and, in that case, it will become quite tough to detect any issues in relation to the recommended level.
Get rid of the screw-off cap from the inflation valve of each tyre so as to check it. However, the caps must not get lost given that they are used to safeguard the valves.
The penultimate step will be to insert the gauge’s end into the valve and then it needs to be depressed. In case the air which is bleeding from the valve is heated, it will be best to push in the gauge further onto the valve until it comes to a halt.
Use the readout on the gauge to determine the current pressure and decide on whether you need to add more air to the tyres. The readout may display the units of pressure in Bar, KPA or PSI. To convert between these three unit types use our PSI to Bar to KPA Conversion Chart.
Types of tyre pressure gauges
You will come across mainly 3 types of air pressure gauges on the market. These happen to be stick, analogue, and digital. Make it a point to get hold of a gauge having an adequate range which will help it to calculate the pressure of the tyre precisely.
Stick Pressure gauge
The stick pressure gauges for tyre look more or less like a ballpoint pen so are very compact. Sometimes called a plunge gauge. Some of these are calibrated, making it easier to read; however, some of the cheaper ones are not.
Inside the pen shaped tube of the pressure gauge there a small and tight sealing piston which is quite similar like that of the piston in the bicycle pumps. The inner wall of the tube is polished and smooth. This piston is made up of soft rubber which acts in sealing the piston against the tube. There is a calibrated rod in this tube which is fitted inside the spring. This rod rides on top of the piston. A properly functional gauge will always show the exact and accurate tire pressure reading.
These types of gauges are inexpensive, compact-sized, as well as simple to use. The gauge measures the pressure using the PSI unit. However, one might find it a bit hard to interpret them unlike most of the digital ones. As a general rule, a brand new standard plunge type gauge would be accurate to + or – 3 psi. The accuracy of this type of gauges is also affected by altitude, temperature, and humidity.
How does a Stick pressure gauge work?
The pressure gauge works in some simple steps. This gauge is joined with the valve stalk of the tire. Then the pressurized air enters into the piston and it starts expanding. With the help of this, the air pressure which is applied on the piston of the gauge can determine the right amount of pressure. Here are the steps to use the gauge in the right way:
- You have to get in a stable position first and then apply the gauge on the valve stem
- Make sure that you apply the gauge making a good closure between the gauge as well as the stem. Then, release the air from vehicle’s tire into this gauge.
- The pin present in the gauge will press against the valve pin which is inside the valve steam for releasing the air from your vehicle’s tyre
- Once it is done, it will show the pressure and you have to read it immediately.
The introduction of digital pressure gauges made the job of measuring pressure a lot less stressful. These tyre pressure gauges feature an innovative electronic LCD display which makes them very simple to read just like a pocket calculator. Moreover, these gauges happen to be more resistant to dirt and grime and thus will not be damaged easily.
Some of the digital readouts are going to light up thus making them extremely useful in conditions where the light is quite low. Nevertheless, there is one drawback with this gauge which is that these tend to be somewhat heavy as compared to the stick gauges and also they will need batteries for functioning. Although these batteries will last for quite some time, they will be used up in the long run and you will need to purchase fresh ones for replacing them.
The analogue pressure gauges still run in the market alongside their digital counterpart. However, with the rising popularity of the digital gauges, the use of the analogue models has seen a significant decline over the years.
When it comes to digital pressure gauges, we are still somewhat new to the whole process of using them. Many questions might arise based on how they work and how are they different from the analogue models. Let us go through all of that in this article.
How do digital pressure gauges work?
The digital pressure gauges function using some advanced sensors along with microprocessors that display the pressure readings with high accuracy. The pressure is displayed on an indicator which is basically a digital screen.
Like any other pressure gauge, the digital pressure gauges use psi or pounds per square inch for measuring positive pressure and Hg inches for measuring negative pressure.
How to use them?
Using a digital pressure gauge can be as easy as it gets. The only thing that needs to be kept in mind is that, any pressure gauge, be it digital or analogue, needs to be used to measure the pressure of cold tyres. Tyres are referred to as cold tyres when they are left unused for about three hours, if not more.
To measure the pressure of a cold tyre, the digital pressure gauge first needs to be connected to your tyre’s valve stem after removing the valve cap. The gauge has to be pushed as long as the hissing sound continues. Once the sound stops, the accurate pressure appears on the digital screen. The next step is to simply write down the pressure value and continue measuring the pressure for the rest of the tyres of your vehicle following the same process.
These types of tyre pressure gauges come with an analogue dial which is almost like the face of a timepiece that features one needle for showing the pressure. In fact, some of the analogue gauges come with more features as compared to the gauges which are pocket-sized such as a bleeder valve, an extension hose, dial cover which is resistant to shocks, and dual-scale dial.
Although it might be rather easy to read the majority of the analogue gauges, models featuring an extension hose entail a couple of hands for operation. Apart from this, these can be rather bulky as well.
How to Use Analog Tire Pressure Gauge
Analog tyre pressure gauges are straightforward to use. On the side of the tyre near the hub cap, you will find a valve or stem. There is normally a small cover that spins off. Remove the lid and insert the gauge pressing in tightly. A low sound of air will be heard of air escaping, and you can check the dial on the gauge to see what the pressure is. As mentioned earlier in the article is best to check the tyres before driving the vehicle if you want a more accurate reading.
Digital vs Analogue tyre pressure gauge?
The digital units generally come with a bigger price tag than there analogue counterparts. The digital pressure gauges are quicker in displaying the results. They are also easier to use from all aspects. They come with resolutions up to 0.01 or sometimes 0.001 which makes them much easier to analyze when it comes to determining low pressures. This feature also comes useful in case of slight changes in the incremental pressure.
Analogue pressure gauges, on the other hand, do not come to much help in such situations such as leak testing, it is almost impossible with analogue gauges to make out such minute pressure changes. That is when digital tyre pressure gauges becomes the only option.
There are definitely some advantages of using analogue units including;
- Readings can be done quickly and accurately.
- They are more affordable and help customers save money.
- The analog tyre gauge is generally more durable.
- This type of gauge is also simple to install and use.
- Plus, they don’t use power unlike a digital unit.
Range of Gauge
Most care tyres are inflated to around 32 psi, so a 0 to 60 psi gauge is enough to measure car tyres. Whilst larger vehicles can have there tyres inflated to 100 plus psi. For accuracy and to prevent damage to the gauge, it is vital that you get the right gauge for the job.
Where you buy a pressure gauge
You will come across tyre pressure gauges in various places including automobile-parts stores, online stores, as well as other types of retailers. When comparing prices we found that the average cost of a gauge will be somewhere between £5 and £20 whether we looking at high street or online retailers.
Although it will be a sensible idea to keep a gauge within the glove box, its performance can be affected significantly by extreme hot or cold temperatures. Make it a point to store the gauge at normal room temperature.
Make it a point to store this item within a protective sleeve given that it will become more resilient and accurate in case it remains clean. However, if you end up dropping the gauge or it becomes dirty and outdated, it is going to lose its accuracy and, in that case, it will be sensible to get hold of a fresh one. It will not be a bad investment at an affordable cost whatsoever.
Air pressure should be checked in tyres regularly because tyres lose a little bit of pressure daily when they are used. Because of the potholes in the road and winter lower outdoor temperatures, air pressure can decrease anywhere from 1 to 2 pounds of pressure every month.
The pressure of the tyre is going to drop with a decrease in the temperature. As a matter of fact, a vehicle tyre which has been measured at 30 psi while the temperature is 80 degrees is going to register 25 psi once the external temperature falls to 30 degrees.
Note that, correctly inflated tyres are safer, improve fuel efficiency, extend the life of the tires, and reduce the chance of unexpected and premature tyre failure.
Regularly have the gauge examined for accuracy. Compare it to another quality gauge and check if both read the same, or close to the same pressure. Try not to jar or drop the gauge. Store the gauge in some case or protective covering and in an area where it won’t be damaged or hit.
Lastly, remember to verify the spare tyre’s air pressure. In fact, these spare tyres usually come with high inflation pressures, typically 60 psi.