Tire pressure gauge is an essential tool for any driver to help maintain tires in top condition by making sure all tires are properly inflated.
There are three types of tire pressure gauges - stick or "pencil" tire pressure gauge, digital tire pressure gauge or dial tire pressure gauge. All three come with certain features and benefits, and have their pros and cons.
Stick tire pressure gauge is simple, compact and affordable. It consists of a metal or plastic casing, a pocket clip and a deep set chuck with a pressure release bump on the opposite side. Pressure scales are marked on an indicator bar that sticks out when air pressure is applied.
Stick Tire Pressure Gauge
Stick tire pressure gauge is convenient, but lacks precision that some drivers would prefer. It also lacks the range as it is usually limited to 40 psi.
To use stick tire pressure gauge, place the chuck on a tire valve and press firmly until the indicator bar slides out of the gauge, showing the corresponding air pressure in the tire.
Pros: Easy to use, lightweight, compact and easy to store, inexpensive.
Cons: Can be tricky to read, less accurate, limited pressure value range.
Dial tire pressure gauge, also called analog tire pressure gauge, comes in a protective casing around a dial indicator with a pressure scale on the dial background. An air chuck on a metal extension is attached to the dial.
Dial Tire Pressure Gauge
Some dial tire pressure gauges come with an extension hose, bleeder valve, dual-scale dial, and shock-resistant dial cover.
Dial gauges are more accurate than stick gauges, and more reliable than digital gauges as they do not rely on batteries.
To use dial tire pressure gauge, place the chuck on the tire valve, press firmly and observe the indicator needle over the scale showing the corresponding air pressure in the tire.
Pros: Easy to use and read, reliable, accurate.
Cons: Can be clunky, more expensive.
Digital tire pressure gauge features an electronic LCD display, usually with a back-lit screen so you can see your tire pressure readings even in the dark. An air chuck is embedded into the casing.
Digital Tire Pressure Gauge
Digital tire pressure gauges are easy to read, very accurate and are more resistant to damage from dust and dirt. They do require batteries, so eventually you will need a replacement.
To use digital tire pressure gauge, turn the gauge on, place the chuck on the tire valve, and the digital display indicates tire pressure.
Pros: Very accurate, fairly priced, easy to use and read, back-lit to read in the dark.
Cons: Require batteries to operate.
Here are some tips on how to select and use a tire pressure gauge:
- Know your tire pressure range. Some tires are inflated up to 120 psi, so make sure your tire pressure gauge can read your tire pressure
- Make sure your gauge is easy to read, with detailed scale graduations that allow you to identify your tire pressure accurately
- Check that your tire pressure gauge is accurate within the desired pressure measurement range. Check your gauge against a known reference or at least against another gauge
- Store your tire pressure gauge in a clean and moisture free environment
- Avoid dropping your tire pressure gauge, or exceeding its maximum pressure reading. If a gauge is dropped or over-pressured, check it against a reference to see if it still reads correctly
It is up to you which tire pressure gauge you prefer. You can buy a quality tire pressure gauge in store or online at a very affordable price, usually ranging from $5 to $15. There are also more expensive tire pressure gauges with advanced features aimed at professional mechanics and hardcore car enthusiasts.