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How Do I Check My Tire Pressure?

Under or over-inflated tires can cause a bumpy ride, decrease fuel economy, and cause your tires to wear out more quickly. Keeping your tires at the correct pressure is super important for your car’s performance and safety. 

proper tire inflation diagram

It’s a good idea to check tire pressure at least once a month or before a long road trip. It’s super easy to do with a tire pressure gauge, which you can pick up at any auto store.

How Do I Check My Tire Pressure?

  • Make sure your tires are cold.
    Remove the valve cap and press the gauge onto the tire’s valve stem.
  • The gauge will give you an air pressure reading.
  • Compare it to the recommended tire pressure for your car.
  • Don’t forget to screw the valve cap back on when you’re done.
If your tires are low, add air until you reach the recommended pressure. Remember to check all four tires, including the spare, if you have one.

This guide will show you how to check your tire pressure, inflate your tires to the right pressure, and find the correct pressure for your car.

Let’s take a closer look.

How To Check Your Tire Pressure

Checking your tire pressure is super easy and only takes a few minutes. All you need is a tire pressure gauge, which you can pick up at any auto store. 

  1. To check your tire pressure, first, make sure your tires are cold (meaning you haven’t driven your car for at least a few hours). 
  2. Remove the valve cap and press the gauge onto the valve stem. 
  3. The gauge will give you a reading. Make sure to write it down or remember it. 
  4. Compare it to the recommended tire pressure for your car, which you can find in the owner’s manual or on a sticker inside the driver’s side door jamb.
  5. If your tires are low, add air until you reach the recommended pressure.
  6. Remember to check all four tires, including the spare, if you have one.
Recommended tire pressure on door jam label
Tire Pressure Sticker In Driver’s Door Jamb

Types Of Tire Pressure Gauges

A few different types of tire pressure gauges are available on the market.

  • Dial Gauge: This type of gauge has a dial that displays the tire pressure reading. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to use and read but are not as accurate as digital gauges.
  • Digital Gauge: This type of gauge uses a digital display to show the tire pressure reading. They are more accurate than dial gauges and also easy to read and use. They also have more features like automatic shut off, backlight, and memory for multiple measurements. Although, they require a battery which will eventually need to be replaced.
  • Stick Gauge: This is the most basic type of tire pressure gauge. It’s a simple plastic or metal stick with markings indicating the amount of pressure. They are inexpensive and easy to use but are less accurate than digital or dial gauges.

It’s important to note that regardless of the type of gauge you choose, make sure to choose one with an easy-to-read display that is accurate and durable. 

While an accurate reading is important, I recommend a dial gauge over a digital one because it doesn’t rely on a battery, is easy to read, and is accurate enough to be reliable.

How To Read A Dial Gauge

The gauge will have a dial with a pointer that will move to indicate the tire pressure. The arrow will point to the current tire pressure. The numbers on the dial represent the tire pressure in psi (pounds per square inch) or kPa (kilopascals). 

Dial Tire Pressure Gauge w/Integrated Tread Depth Gauge

Dial Tire Pressure Gauge w/Integrated Tread Depth Gauge

To get an accurate reading, you should compare the pointer’s position to the numbers on the dial while the gauge is still pressed onto the valve stem. 

Some dial gauges may have color-coded sections for easy reading. For instance, if the pointer points at the green area, the tire pressure is within the recommended range. 

How To Read A Digital Gauge

Once the gauge is pressed onto the valve stem, the digital display will show the tire pressure reading in psi (pounds per square inch) or kPa (kilopascals), just like the dial gauge. However, it simply displays the measurement as a number.

Digital Tire Pressure Gauge With Leak-Preventing Tip

Digital Tire Pressure Gauge With Leak-Preventing Tip

The reading will be displayed on the screen and will be stable. It will not change once you release the gauge from the valve stem. Some digital gauges have features like automatic shut-off, backlight, and memory for multiple measurements. 

The digital gauge will beep or show a message on the screen if the tire pressure is low or high. This can be helpful to quickly identify if a tire needs air or not.

How To Read A Stick Gauge

A stick gauge is the most basic type of tire pressure gauge. It’s a simple metal or plastic stick with markings indicating pressure. The small plastic or metal rod or “stick” will move out of the gauge body when you press it onto the valve stem. The stick will have marks or numbers on it that indicate the pressure.

Milton Stick Pencil Gauge

Milton Stick Pencil Gauge

To read the gauge, you must read the stick’s position where it comes out of the opening. The mark at the opening indicates the pressure in psi (pounds per square inch) or kPa (kilopascals).

The stick will move to the mark corresponding to the tire’s pressure. Some stick gauges may have color-coded sections for easy reading. For instance, if the opening the stick is coming out of is aligned with the green section, the tire pressure is within the recommended range.

It’s important to note that stick gauges are not as accurate as digital or dial gauges, so you should use them as a general guide.

Tips When Checking Tire Pressure

It’s important to check your tire pressure when your tires are cold to get an accurate reading. The air pressure in your tires increases as the tires heat up while driving. It’s also a good idea to check all four tires, including the spare if you have one, and check the pressure regularly, at least once a month, or before any long trips.

Inflating Tires Like A Pro

Once you have checked the tire pressure and determined that one or more of your tires are low, you can inflate them to the correct pressure using an air compressor or a manual pump.

  1. To inflate the tire, remove the valve cap and press the air hose or pump head onto the valve stem.
  2. Add air to the tire, checking the pressure with your gauge after every few pumps.
  3. Continue adding air until you reach the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle.
  4. Once you have reached the correct pressure, remove the air hose or pump head from the valve stem and replace the valve cap. 
Craftsman V20 Inflator

Craftsman V20 Portable Tire Inflator

Tips For Properly Inflating Tires

Always inflate your tires to the recommended pressure. Over-inflating your tires can be dangerous and cause uneven wear or a blowout.

Make sure to check the pressure of all your tires, including the spare, and check the pressure when your tires are cold, as the pressure increases as the tires heat up while driving.

Keep an eye out for leaks. If you notice that your tire pressure is dropping quickly, it may mean a leak needs to be fixed.

Safety precautions when inflating tires

  • Always wear safety goggles when inflating tires.
  • Never inflate a tire that shows signs of damage or wear, such as bulging or exposed cords.
  • Never inflate a tire beyond its maximum pressure rating.
  • Never leave an inflator or compressor running unattended.
  • Keep a safe distance from the tire while inflating it.
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergency.

It is important to maintain the correct tire pressure not just for the safety and performance of your vehicle but also to reduce the wear on your tires and help you get better gas mileage.

Resources

Below are some links you may find helpful when learning about tires

Final Thoughts

Properly inflated tires are essential for the safety and performance of your vehicle. With the right amount of air, your tires will handle better, wear more evenly and help you get better gas mileage. 

To maintain proper tire pressure, it’s important to check your tire pressure regularly, at least once a month, and before any long trips. Checking your tire pressure is a quick and easy task that you can do in just a few minutes, and it is an essential step in keeping your vehicle running smoothly.

With this guide, you should be able to check and inflate your tires confidently and ensure that your vehicle runs at its best.

Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the correct tire pressure and be aware of safety precautions when inflating the tires.

Good luck and happy motoring.

About The Author
Will Creech
Will has been an automotive enthusiast since he was old enough to make engine sounds. Formerly a member of the contract training team at Discount Tire, he is unusually knowledgeable on all things related to tires. He is now the owner of and main contributor to TireGrades.com.
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