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How to Check the Air in a Car Tire

Checking the air in your car tires is the most fundamental and important things you can do to be sure that you drive safely and efficiently. A tire with low air pressure can significantly reduce your vehicles gas mileage. Because a tire with low air pressure will flex while driving, it will generate more heat and wear out sooner. And after the air pressure drops to a severely low level, the tire will experience sudden decompression and break loose from its rim. Very dangerous.

All these problems would be very unfortunate because it's extremely easy to check the air pressure in your tires, even a monkey could do it. In this article I explain, in simple steps, what you need, how to check it, and how to put more air in your tire if required.

Tire Pressure Gauge

You'll need a tire pressure gauge.

pencil style tire pressure gauge
Pencil style tire pressure gauge

A pencil type gauge looks like a metal tube. When you check the pressure a ruler-like strip pops out the top. The distance that the strip pops indicates the air pressure.

dial style tire pressure gauge
Dial style tire pressure gauge

A dial type gauge is easier to read.

digital style tire pressure gauge
Digital style tire pressure gauge

A digital type guage is super easy to read, but much more expensive.

you will find tire pressure gauges at any auto parts store such as NAPA, AutoZone, or Checker, or at big-box stores like WalMart.

Check Your Tire's Air Pressure

Image source: Creative Commons

First unscrew and remove the little black cap from the tire valve.

Image source: Creative Commons

Press the valve end of the gauge firmly and squarely onto the valve. You'll hear a blast of air as the value stem opens and before you've pressed firmly enough to stop the flow of air. Press more firmly until the hissing stops. After the hissing stops for a second, quickly remove the gauge. You may hear a blast of air as the gauge is removed and the value stem closes. The gauge should have captured the air pressure measurement. Read the gauge.

This technique of popping the gauge on and off may seem unfamiliar at first. Don't be afraid to take several measurements to make sure they're consistent. But remember, your tire loses a tiny bit of air on every measurement, so don't get carried away. As you take more measurements you'll become more comfortable with it.

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