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Tire pressure gauge buying guide

Keep this important tool handy — just in case.

Checking your tire pressure monthly is recommended to ensure safety, reduce tire wear and increase fuel efficiency. A tire pressure gauge is a simple, affordable device that can help you quickly check the pressure of your tires at home or on the road.

Compare some of the best tire pressure gauges

NameAvg. price
TypeAccuracyPressure rangePurchase
Michelin MN-12279$23Digital+/- 1%Up to 99 PSIShop now
AstroAI Digital Tire Pressure Gauge$9DigitalNot availableUp to 150 PSIShop now
JACO ElitePro Tire Pressure Gauge$20Analog+/- 2 – 3%Up to 100 PSIShop now
Rhino USA Heavy Duty Tire Pressure Gauge$20AnalogNot availableUp to 75 PSIShop now
Milton (S-921) Single Chuck Head Pencil Tire Pressure Gauge$7PencilNot available5 – 50 PSIShop now
Data obtained April 2019. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

What is a tire pressure gauge?

A tire pressure gauge is an inexpensive tool that provides an accurate measure of the air pressure inside your tires.

Who needs a tire pressure gauge?

Every car owner should own a basic pressure gauge. It’s recommended that drivers check their tire pressure at least monthly.

Maintain vehicle safety, reduce fuel waste costs and prevent permanent tire damage by ensuring your tires are properly inflated. Under-inflated tires can lead to faster and more uneven tire wear. Excess heat build-up while driving can even result in dangerous tire failure.

Check your tire pressure at gas stations, but the gauges there are often weathered or damaged and may provide inaccurate readings.

If you don’t want to check your tire pressure yourself, have an expert take a look for you. If you’re worried that your tire could get punctured or burst on the road, check out our guide to tire and rim insurance to see what could be covered.

What types of tire pressure gauges are available?

There are three types of tire pressure gauges: analog, digital and pencil.

  • Analog gauges, also known as dial gauges, resemble a round clock face with a simple needle that indicates the pressure and uses a calibrated spring. More advanced versions often have a glow-in-the-dark dial, a rubber cover to protect from accidental drops and a 360-degree swivel chuck that makes it easy to access your valve stems.
  • Digital gauges have an electronic LCD display similar to an electronic calculator and are simple to use.
  • Pencil or stick-type gauges resemble a ballpoint pen and are small, light and compact.
TypeBest for:ProsCons
AnalogThose who prefer a mechanical tool, as well as professionals
  • Easy to read
  • No battery required
  • Some include a built-in air pressure inflator to adjust tire pressure
  • More accurate than pencil gauges
  • Can be bulky
  • Can be less accurate in cold temperatures
DigitalWhen accuracy and simplicity are important
  • Most accurate option
  • Easy to read
  • Resistant to damage from dirt and dust
  • Some are backlit, making them useful for checking pressure in the dark
  • Bulkier than pencil gauges
  • Requires batteries that need to be replaced every few years
PencilStoring in passenger cars
  • Simple to use
  • Easy to store conveniently in a glove compartment
  • Usually comes with built-in deflator valve
  • More difficult to interpret than most digital gauges
  • Limited pressure range

How to compare tire pressure gauges

For most people, the deciding factor will be how much you’re willing to pay for a tire pressure gauge. A basic pencil gauge could cost $6, while a high-end multipurpose gauge could cost $50 or more. Generally, gauges will all come with similar basic features and as long as they’re accurate, will do the job.

When looking for a pressure gauge, consider these factors:

  • Durability. Professionals and car enthusiasts generally opt for a heavy-duty mechanical gauge that’s durable and doesn’t require battery replacement.
  • Ease of use. A digital gauge is easy to read from an LCD display and will usually offer the most accurate readings.
  • Vehicle type. If you have a truck or RV, it might be useful to choose a gauge with a specialized long-stemmed neck design to make gauging easy and simple. For accuracy and portability, a compact digital gauge may be the best tool for bicycle and motorcycle users.
  • Pressure and temperature range. Some gauges have a limited pressure range, only measuring up to 60PSI. Check that your gauge can test a higher inflation pressure suitable for your vehicle. Some RV tires need to be inflated to 100PSI.
  • Valve type compatibility. Check that the gauge is compatible with your vehicle’s valve type.

How do I check my tire pressure?

  1. Begin with cold tires. For an accurate reading, tire pressure should be measured when your vehicle has been parked for three hours or more, or if your vehicle has been driven for less than a mile at moderate speed.
  2. Check the recommended pressure. To find the recommended pressure for your vehicle, look for the placard on the driver’s door jamb. On older cars, it may be located on the lid of the trunk, fuel door, glovebox, center console lid, passenger’s door jamb or in your owner’s manual.
  3. Use your gauge to read tire pressure. Remove your valve stem cap and place the gauge on the stem. A reading will appear on the gauge. If you’re using a mechanical gauge, you can check two or three times for a more accurate reading. After you’ve finished checking the pressure on all four tires, replace the valve stem cap.
  4. Fill to the recommended PSI and check pressure again. Use an air compressor to refill tires with low pressure. After refilling your tires, recheck the tire pressure using your gauge. If you have overfilled your tires, you can let some air back out.
  5. Store your gauge properly. Keep your tire pressure gauge in a protective sleeve to help reduce wear and maintain accuracy. A gauge that is old, worn, dirty or damaged may be less reliable.
  6. Check tire pressure monthly. It’s important to keep an eye on your tire pressure at least monthly.

Bottom line

Regularly checking your vehicle’s tire pressure is an important part of routine maintenance. You also never know when you might find yourself with a low tire while traveling, making this handy tool essential in any glove box.

How did we choose these products?

To choose our list of the best tire gauges, we compared features like the type, size, ease of use and price. We also considered third-party product reviews while conducting our own online research.

Frequently asked questions

What’s a tire pressure monitoring system?
A tire pressure monitoring system is only there to warn you of a tire puncture or active air leak. The low-pressure warning light will only be activated when your tire pressure is 25% below the vehicle’s recommended level.

You can’t tell by sight alone whether your tire is under-inflated. Regularly checking your tire pressure with a tire pressure gauge to ensure it’s maintained at the optimal level is the way to go.

What tire gauge should I have for a 4×4?

For 4x4s, it’s essential that your gauge can withstand changes in temperature, pressure, altitude or humidity to provide accurate readings when driving off-road and altering load and tire pressures for different situations.

Look for a tire pressure gauge that can read accurately at both lower and higher pressures suitable for your vehicle. Ensure your gauge allows for easy removal of the valve core for quick tire deflation. A large backlit display would also be handy so you can read and adjust tire pressures quickly on the road.

What happens if I drive with low tire pressure?
It’s not recommended, as driving with low tire pressure can cause irreversible damage to your tires and may lead to a blowout caused by accumulated damage.

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