Picking a Tire Pressure Gauge – Tips from Consumer Reports

It’s not a hidden secret that you should keep a tire pressure gauge in your car. There are plenty of inexpensive emergency tools that we are always told to keep, but they aren’t always easy to pick out. After all, if you need something for an emergency, you want to make sure it’s going to work and work well. Tire pressure gauges aren’t just used for emergencies, but they can help prevent some pretty dangerous situations. You don’t have to go buying the most expensive one you can find, either, and lucky for us, Consumer Reports has some tips on what types to pick.

Yes, you still need a tire pressure gauge

Many modern cars have the ability to tell you when your car’s tire pressure is low, and some even go as far as reading you the measurements of each tire right from the comfort of your driver’s seat. While this can be convenient, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep a tire pressure gauge handy in case of an emergency. For one reason, tire pressure monitoring sensors, TPMS, can go bad, and replacing them isn’t always convenient.

While your car may tell you what your tire air pressure is while the car is turned out, it doesn’t help you in the event that you need to refill your tire. Tire pressure gauges can cost only a few dollars and be incredibly handy if you need to stop at the gas station to fill up your tires, especially as the weather begins to get colder.

KAZAN, RUSSIA – NOVEMBER 3, 2019: Checking the inflation pressure in winter tyres fitted at the R16 tyre shop | Yegor Aleyev\TASS, Getty Images

Picking the right gauge

There are only a few types of tire pressure gauges out there, and the differences make them easy to pick between. If you don’t really care about storing a pressure gauge in your car, but just want to have it for an emergency, a stick gauge is an easy answer. For less than a cup of coffee, this pen-sized gauge works just fine.

Dial gauges are a little bit pricier, ranging from around $10 to upwards of $75 depending on the brand and where you buy it. Dial gauges are easier for most people to read, but cheaper ones aren’t always the most accurate. They are also larger than the stick gauge, which can be annoying to some people, but, at least it is easier to find in your glovebox.

Flat Car Tire
Damaged, flat car tire | Photo by Niall Carson – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Things to keep in mind

Having a tire pressure gauge is handy, but there is one other emergency tool that you can pair with it, and some of them even come with pressure gauges. Portal air pumps can be battery-powered or plug directly into your car for power and provide enough air to pump your tire back up. This can save you time stopping at the local gas station, and it can also help you if you’re nowhere near a place to put air in your tires.

A tire gauge is being used to check pressure.
A race team technician checks tire pressure at the Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the Daytona 500 Winston Cup NASCAR race on February 20, 2000 in Daytona Beach, Florida. | David Madison/Getty Images

Run-Flat Tires Are Replacing Your Spare Tire and It Sucks

Another thing you should know is where to find information for what pressure your tire should be at. Each car may require a slightly different air pressure for each tire, some even differing between the front and rear tires. It’s better to know where on your car this information is located. Tire pressure requirement can often be found on the sticker inside the driver side door sill, and of course, the owner’s manual.