For some motorists inflating their car tyres at the local petrol station might be a regular activity. But for many motorists are more familiar with using their own portable tyre inflator it can be a new experience.
My first experience of using a petrol station air pump was when I first started driving and noticed one of my rear tyres was low. I then went about looking for my tyre pressure gauge that quickly proved that my rear tyre was below the recommended tyre pressure. My usual tyre fitter was based more then 5 miles from my home and I didn’t want to drive all that way with an under inflated tyre. Unfortunately my 12V air pump at had packed up but I knew the petrol station within 300 yards of where I lived had a pump so I drove slowly to the petrol station to double check my tyre pressure reading and use the petrol pump inflator.
I have had many of our users ask me to put this brief guide together since they have found themselves in a similar situation to the one I was in.
What does a petrol station inflator look like?
When you drive into a petrol station you may notice a large rectangular box usually metallic with what looks like a hose extending from it. It will have a small electronic display and a coin slot to take payment.
Most inflators I have come across at petrol stations usually give a reading in PSI, some will allow you to switch between PSI and BAR. We have our own PSI to Bar Conversion chart.
Don’t assume you can go in an use a inflator without having to go into the petrol station as more and more units will only accept a token you can buy from the petrol station counter or they will have a keypad, the code will be available from the assistant in the station. If you do get a token it tends to cost a £1.00.
Steps to inflate your tyre at the petrol station
You may want to park the car in a position that allows you to see the electronic pressure readout. Some forecourts will have a designated parking space.
- Ensure the car’s parking break is on.
- Look to see if the machine will take payment directly or if you need to go to the counter for a token or code.
- Use the token or the correct change for the duration of time you want to use the pump. Most pumps I have come across will give use 4 minutes of use for 50p, which should be more than sufficient for most people to pump up all the tyres.
- Before you start touching the wheels I would recommend you use the plastic gloves if available that you will usually find at most petrol forecourts to prevent you hands getting covered in dirt and dust.
- Take of all the dust caps before you select the desired tyre pressure.
- Insert the payment or token and then select the tyre pressure using the plus or minus buttons next to the display. Read out article on where to find your cars correct tyre pressure.
- Connect the air hose to the tyre valve. As you connect the hose you will see the current pressure of the tyre. As the pump inflates the tyre the pressure reading on the machine should increase.
- Once the pump has reached the selected pressure you will here a loud beeping sound. As soon as you here this sound remove the inflator adapter from the tyre valve.
- Repeat the last two steps on the other three tyres.
- If you have your own tyre pressure gauge you may want to check the pressures again.
- Remember to replace all the valve dust caps before you set off.
All in all it should take you between 10-15 minutes from arriving at the petrol station to leaving with correctly inflated tyres. However this can take longer if there is a queue for the pump.
Some machines will also be equipped with a water hose that you can use to refill your wind screen wash fluid and coolant reservoir.