Tire Gauge Basics

There are several really good reasons to keep your tires properly inflated. Tires that are inflated to proper specs will last much longer than under- or over-inflated tires. They will also provide you with better handling. Tires not inflated enough can actually decrease your gas mileage. To make sure your tires have the right air pressure, you really need to get your own gauge. It’s important to get a gauge that is accurate and easy to read. You don’t have to spend a bundle though.

If you’re going to maintain your tires at the proper pressure, you really must have your own tire gauge. You should never make the mistake of trying to rely on a gas station gauge. As you probably already know, fewer and fewer stations are providing air service, and even the ones that do frequently have machines that are out-of-order. Tire pressure gauges used by everyone tend to get abused and become more inaccurate over time.

Another good reason to have your own gauge is so that you can check your tires at home. Most specifications for tire pressure assume that the tires are cold. If you have to drive some distance before you measure the pressure, then you’ll never be quite sure if the levels are correct. It’s always a better idea to have a tool of your own that you can rely on anywhere you are.

When choosing a tire gauge, you should take special care to get an accurate one. Incorrect pressure readings could do more harm than good. In most cases, accuracy is directly related to the cost of the gauge. Sometimes it’s difficult to assess your gauge’s accuracy. Try to compare readings at the same time with another gauge. If both gauges agree, then they are probably accurate. Your local tire shop may have a “certified” gauge that should be properly calibrated.

Sometimes tire gauges are accurate but difficult to read. This is especially true with the old pen-style gauges that had a pop-up plastic top. You often couldn’t tell much more than pressure to the nearest five pounds. There’s no need to settle for that type of reading today. Digital tire gauges can display exact pressure readings that are accurate to within five-hundredths of a pound. And yet, they are often reasonably priced. Most decent tire gauges run around ten dollars. You should never spend more than $50 unless you’re in the tire business.

Tires aren’t cheap and you probably don’t want to replace them any more often than you have to. So spend a few bucks now and save yourself hundreds in the long run.

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