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Despite not being a fancy and complicated component, your car’s tires are crucial to your driving experience. Keeping them properly inflated will allow you to ensure safety, better handling, even tire tread wear, maximum tread life and better fuel economy. The best way to make sure your tires are inflated to the correct optimum pressure as provided by your vehicle manufacturer is to get the best tire pressure gauge. A top rated tire pressure gauge will only cost you less than $30, such a small investment for the convenience of easily checking your tire pressure on a monthly basis. It is a must have tool for every car owner.
To make your purchasing decision as stress-free as possible, we have browsed the market and compiled the best tire pressure gauge products based on their design, specifications, construction quality and in-depth tire pressure gauge reviews by actual buyers and expert opinions. There is a high quality tire pressure gauge for every car owner, regardless of your priorities and budget.
To help you better make an informed investment decision, this comprehensive guide will also include all the crucial information you will need to determine the right auto tire pressure gauges for you, including their benefits, the different types and their pros and cons, important buying criteria, usage and maintenance tips, tips for ensuring correct tire pressure as well as answers to frequently asked questions.
Tire Pressure Gauge Basics
What a Tire Pressure Gauge Does
Car tires must be correctly inflated to the optimum pressure specified by your vehicle manufacturer. Both under-inflated tires and over-inflated tires can adversely affect handling and control, make your tires worn out faster, and can compromise your safety on the roads.
- Under-inflated tires: Under-inflated tires means increased contacts with the road, thus your tires will wear faster and unevenly, and build up excess heat as you drive. These can result in tire failure and negatively impact the vehicle’s braking and handling, increasing the risk of accidents. Too much traction with the road also means your car needs to work extra hard to maintain its speed, thus wasting fuel.
- Over-inflated tires: Over-inflated tires are more problematic on rough terrain. They will amplify the physical impact on bumpy roads and cause premature wear and tear on your tires, on top of uneven tread wear. Over-inflated tires also affect handling and your safety.
- How a tire pressure gauge can avoid these: To ensure your tire is inflated to the optimal pressure, the cheapest, easiest way is to use a tire-pressure gauge to check the pressure of your tires regularly and before starting on any long trip. The recommended interval is at least once a month.
How a Tire Pressure Gauge Works
To measure a tire’s pressure with a pressure gauge:
- To get an accurate reading, make sure the tires haven’t been driven on, which would create heat and mess with the measurement. Park your car for at least three or so before proceeding with the tire pressure gauge.
- Apply the pressure gauge to the valve stem, making sure you form a good seal between the gauge and the stem. Then, release air from the tire into the gauge (when you do this, the pin inside the gauge will press against the pin inside the valve stem).
- A plastic rod will extend from the gauge to give you a pressure reading.
- If the pressure is higher than the recommended level, most of the best tire pressure gauges will also allow you to release air from your tires by putting the opposite end into the valve stem.
Then how does a tire pressure gauge return a pressure reading? There are different types of pressure gauges, but let’s look at the simplest type, that is pencil gauges, to understand their basic mechanism.
The body of a pencil gauge consists of a long, small tube, and the inside of the tube is polished smooth and lubricated with a light oil. Inside the tube sits a piston made of soft rubber that is designed to seal nicely against the tube but can move along the interior of the tube when air is released from the tire to the gauge. The piston is tight-sealing, thanks to its soft rubber material, the smooth surface of the tube interior as well as the enhancing light oil.
The piston sits at one end of the tube, at the other is a stop and between them is a compressed and calibrated spring that runs the entire length of the tube. This spring pushes the piston toward the left end of the tube.
When you apply the pressure gauge to a tire’s valve stem, the pressurized air from the tire is released into the gauge’s tube and pushes the piston toward the right, and the spring is compressed. The more pressurized the air in the tire is, the more it will push the piston inside the tube. The mechanism for giving a pressure reading is simple: the distance the piston travels measures the pressure of the air in the tire.
Also, to provide a reading, all tire pressure gauges are designed to have some maximum pressure. For instance, if the gauge’s maximum pressure is 60 PSI and the air pressure of the tire is 30 PSI, the piston will be pushed half-way along the tube towards the right end. If the tire’s air pressure is 60 PSI, the piston will be pushed all the way to the right end of the tube, and so on.
There’s a calibrated rod that fits inside the spring. When you release the gauge from the valve stem, the piston moves back to the left since there’s no longer a flow of pressurized air, but the rod is designed to stay in its position to allow you to read the pressure.
Why You Need a Tire Pressure Gauge
You can easily buy tire-pressure gauges online, or at auto-parts stores, big-box department stores, and other retailers like Home Depot. For typically $5 to $15, you can get a functional gauge already, and even the absolute best tire pressure gauge wouldn’t set you back more than $50.
Since it’s not expensive, there’s no excuse for not having one around, even two. A tire gauge is not a one-off expense. Buying the best tire gauges is a reasonable investment that might save your life, provide your precious vehicle with many benefits or at the very least avoid premature and expensive repairs and replacement. But first:
You can’t rely on your car’s tire pressure monitoring system
You might have known that most new vehicles come with a tire pressure monitoring system, and might be expecting that this system should do the job of a tire pressure gauge. That is not the case. Such a system only illuminates a light on your dashboard to warn if a tire’s pressure is significantly lower than the recommended pressure and does not allow you to check the accurate pressure.
So just because the warning light isn’t illuminated doesn’t mean that your tire pressure has been set correctly. Also, note that if your car is older, it might not come installed with a tire pressure monitoring system.
Don’t try to save a few bucks and rely on free tire pressure gauges at gas stations. They usually get little or no maintenance and are not handled with care. Experts also warn that most gauges on a gas station’s tire inflators are built to a lower standard than stand-alone tire pressure gauges, regardless of what types they are
Better Handling and Ride Quality
If all four tires on your car are at the same level of pressure, and none is under-inflated or over-inflated as per the manufacturer’s guidelines, it’s no rocket science that you will gain better control of your vehicle. Enhanced stability and handling means a smoother ride for everyone onboard.
Your braking experience is directly related to tour tire pressure. For instance, under-inflated tires will increase the stopping distance whenever you slam on the brake pedal. Therefore, regularly checking your tire pressure and consistently maintaining proper tire pressure means consistent braking performance, less guesswork, and safer driving.
Maintaining a uniform and appropriate tire pressure also puts less strain on the rest of your vehicle, thus helping it achieve better fuel efficiency. For instance, as explained above, under-inflated tires make your car work extra hard to make up for increased friction with the road, which prevents your vehicle from achieving its normal speed. Properly inflated tires can yield a 3.3% increase in fuel economy, which might not sound like a lot but would quickly add up over time.
Less Tire Wear & Premature Replacement
Both under-inflated and over-inflated tires create uneven tread wear and undesirable wear pattern, which would mean premature replacement if you don’t want to compromise your safety.
Under-inflation means larger tires contact with the road surface and less vehicle stability, resulting in excessive and uneven tire wear. Meanwhile, over-inflated tires means less rubber is in contact with the road, thus reducing traction and the wear would be concentrated in the center of the tire.
Meanwhile, proper tire pressure allows for even wear on each tire and across all four tires, thus prolonging the life of your tires. You only need to spend less than $50 for the best tire pressure gauge to avoid premature replacement as well as accidents, and that investment will be of good service for many years to come.
Tire failure is the reason for about 11,000 car crashes each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of which the majority of cases are caused by underinflated tires. Other than compromised handling, more friction from under-inflated tires also means excessive heat buildup, which can cause the tread to separate from the tire entirely and render the vehicle completely out of control.
In addition, many serious accidents have occured due to worn tires, and remember that improperly inflated tires means premature wear and tear. When the tread wears out excessively and unevenly, traction is reduced, which can lead to loss of vehicle control and accidents, especially on wet or icy roads.
The Best Tire Pressure Gauge: An In-Depth Review
Without further ado, dive into our delicious list of the best tire pressure gauge models for the money. These are the best air pressure gauge across all important criteria, such as accuracy of readings, ease of reading, features and durability. This list also includes all the different types of gauges for different budgets and needs, and the models are in the order of cheapest to most expensive.
If you’re familiar with tire gauges types and the technicalities, and know what you’re looking for, dive right in. Otherwise, skip to the next section to learn the crucial buying criteria when shopping for the best tire pressure gauge for your needs.
Milton S-921 Single Chuck Head Pencil Tire Pressure Gauge 5-50 PSI
- PSI Range: 5 to 50
- Units: PSI, kPa
- Measures 5-50 PSI in 1-lb. increments and 40-350 in 10-kPa increments
- Made in the USA from plated brass
- Built-in deflator valve
- Single chuck head
- White nylon indicator bar
Available for only $7, this Milton S-921 basic stick gauge is simple, easy to use, and has fool-proof operation. Being a stick gauge, it is incredibly lightweight and compact, so you can store it anywhere in the car. Made in the USA from plated brass, the Milton S-921 is reported by buyers to be sturdier than other stick gauges on the market. There’s only one moving part, so there’s little to break.
All in all, for only a small initial investment, you get excellent value for money from this gauge. It’s not battery-powered, so you won’t have to worry about the batteries freezing in winter or low battery power leading to false readings. Despite being nothing fancy, this stick gauge is operational in a wide range of temperatures.
There’s also a built-in deflater tab on the back of the gauge for use in the case you over-inflated your tires. That said, the deflator won’t let you track exactly how much air to release. The pressure-reading bar stays out unless you push it back in, so you can take the gauge off the valve stem to read the results. It’s still not as easy to read the numbers compared to digital gauges though.
A major downside is its limited PSI range that only reads to 50 PSI, which means it’s only suitable for regular passenger vehicles with an optimum tire pressure of around 28 to 30 PSI. Another major downside is this Milton model is not very accurate, which is a universal problem for stick gauges. So it is more suitable to be a backup that you always keep in your car for cases of emergency.
Judging from the reviewers who use this gauge alongside at least another one to test for accuracy though, this gauge consistently returns readings that are 1 PSI higher than other gauges being used. So in a sense, its accuracy is less variable, which is a good thing.
- Extremely compact and lightweight, fits nearly anywhere
- Built-in deflator
- No batteries, thus performance is not affected by extreme cold
- Little moving parts
- Limited pressure range
- Built-in deflater doesn’t let you track how much air you release
AstroAI Digital Tire Pressure Gauge 150 PSI
- PSI Range: 0 to 150
- Units: PSI, Bar, Kgf/cm², kPa
- Wide range: 4-150 PSI / 0-10 Bar / 0-10 Kgf/cm² or 0-1000 KPA
- Operating Temperature: 23°F to 122°F
- Bright blue LCD display
- Four measurement units.
- Ergonomic and slip-resistant body for comfortable grip and control.
- Excellent nozzle seal onto the valve stem to minimize air loss and thus maximize accuracy.
- Lighted nozzle illuminates to easily locate the valve stem in poorly lit areas.
- Automatically shuts off in 30-40 seconds to save battery power.
- Compatible with ¼-inch and ½-inch compressor outputs
- A single push button to turn the unit on and select a readout setting.
- Automatically resets.
AstroAI is a household favourite when it comes to the best tire pressure gauges, and this model doesn’t disappoint. It receives an overall 4.5 stars from almost 8,500 car owners on Amazon with raving in-depth reviews. For only $9.99, it reads up to 150 PSI, which makes it operational for even truck tires and small to midsize recreational vehicles.
What buyers love is the excellent nozzle that seals onto the valve stem properly without air loss to maximize accuracy. The lighted nozzle illuminates and makes it easy to locate the valve stem on the tire in darkened spaces. Another plus is this device automatically resets each time you check tire pressure, so there’s no need to reset or calibrate it.
Also easy to hold with an ergonomic slip-resistant body, and easy to read, this little device is a dream come true. The backlit blue LCD screen displays the exact measurement in PSI, bar, kPa or kg/cm ^2 in large numbers, so you get the best look at the results, even in low light conditions. The glowing screen will automatically shut off after 20 seconds of inactivity to save on battery life.
It comes with extras like a valve core tool and four valve caps, and a locking chuck. What’s super convenient about this gauge is that it’s compatible with ¼-inch and ½-inch compressor outputs, which means you can add air to your tires using an air compressor and check the pressure at the same time. Simply add this gauge to the air hose without having to disconnect the air compressor.
As for the downside, there’s no bleeder valve to remedy over-inflated tires. Its limited operating temperature of 23°F to 122°F and the fact that it’s battery-powered means the battery can freeze in extreme cold and might not function in the winter. Low battery power can also render the unit less accurate, plus many buyers complain that replacing the battery is not as easy as it should be. While this AstroAI digital gauge offers a good seal to prevent air loss, it’s still not as accurate as the best dial gauges that are ANSI certified.
- Wide PSI range, thus suitable for a wide range of vehicles
- Good seal to prevent air loss and give accurate results
- Easy to read results, even at night
- Automatic resets, so no need to calibrate.
- 4 readout settings, easy to switch between settings
- No bleeder valve
- Limited operating temperature
- Some buyers complain that it’s easy to misalign
Dirt Renegade Tire Pressure Gauge 75 PSI
- Dial gauge
- Range: 0-75 PSI
- Unit: PSI
- Solid brass hardware
- Bleeder valve chuck and tip both swivel 360 degrees for maximum flexibility.
- Durable braided hose
- Extended head
- Bleeder valve
- includes a lightweight drawstring bag for easy storage
- Large 2-inch dial that glows in the dark for easy reading
- The dial is also encased in a high impact, rugged protective rubber case for shock protection.
- Lifetime warranty
This analog tire pressure gauge comes with a large 2-inch dial gauge that glows in the dark for easy reading in all conditions, a bleeder valve that allows you to set the amount of air to release to remedy over-inflated tires, 360-degree swivel chuck and 360-degree swivel tip for maximum flexibility, a durable braided 11.5-inch hose and an extended head.
Most buyers compliment its heavy duty solid brass construction for secure connectivity and durability. Its lifetime warranty should also speak volume about the unit’s longevity.
For only $11.99, you get great functionality and longevity out of this gauge. It even comes with a convenient carrying bag to protect the gauge from dust and grime buildup. The 2-inch dial is also encased in a high impact, rugged protective rubber case for shock protection.
Unfortunately, this gauge only measures in PSI, and the range is a bit limited at that, reading to 75 PSI only. That said, if you only need to check tire pressure for your passenger car, 75 PSI is adequate, since the optimum tire pressure for passenger vehicles should range from 28 to 36 PSI. In this case, this Dirt Renegade dial gauge would be the best tire pressure gauge for your money.
- Bleeder valve that allows you to set the amount of air to release
- Glowing dial for night vision; dial protected from shock
- Swivel tip and chuck for flexibility
- Heavy duty brass construction
- Limited PSI range
- Only measures in PSI
TEKTON Digital Tire Gauge 5941
- Digital gauge
- Unit: PSI, BAR, kPa, kg/cm2
- Range: 0-100 PSI, 0-7 BAR, 0-700 kPa, 0-7 kg/cm2
- Minimum increment: 0.5 PSI
- Excellent nozzle seals for minimal air loss and more accurate measurements.
- Lighted nozzle and backlit LCD display for good vision even at night.
- Digital display shows exact numbers.
- Automatic shut off after 30 seconds to save battery power.
- Ergonomic design soft, non-slip surface for comfortable grip and control.
- Single push button to turn the unit on and switch between readout settings.
This digital gauge is a tried and true model, as testified by over 5,000 car owners on Amazon. Available at an affordable price of only $14.90, packed with many killer features while being easy to use and easy to read, this Tekton gauge is agreed on by technicians and car owners as one of the best digital tire pressure gauge for this price range.
For only a small investment, you get a wide range and all four measurement units: it reads to 0-100 PSI, 0-7 BAR, 0-700 kPa, or 0-7 kg/cm2, and has a minimum increment of 0.5 PSI. This means it’s suitable for checking truck tires on top of regular passenger vehicles.
It is loved for its backlit LCD display screen that glows in the dark and shows the exact number, so there’s no guesswork and you won’t need to strain your eyes to take a better look like with analog models. The lit nozzle makes it even easier to locate the valve stem in low light. The raving reviews often take note of the excellent nozzle seal that prevents air loss and allows for more accurate measurement.
Its ergonomic and soft, non-slip contoured design makes for a firm, comfortable grip. There’s a single push-button control that turns the unit on and switches between four readout settings. You just need to push the button quickly to turn the unit on, or hold a bit longer to trigger the reading display and switch units. However, many buyers complain that this makes it easy to accidentally switch between readings, and there should be a separate button for this purpose.
The gauge is battery-powered by one CR2032 3V lithium-ion cell, and three LR44 1.5V button cells. It automatically shuts off after 30 seconds to save on battery life. While the batteries are expected to last more than two years, the fact that this unit uses two different types of batteries makes replacement more pricey and complicated, as many buyers have noted. Another downside is the gauge’s construction doesn’t feel very heavy duty and high quality, which raises concerns over its longevity.
- Lighted nozzle and display screen for easy reading
- 4 measurements, decent PSI range and read to only 0.5-PSI increment
- Suitable for use with trucks
- Too easy to accidentally switch between readings
- Too easy to accidentally switch between readings
- Replacing batteries is not cheap
- Battery can freeze in extreme cold, and low battery power can lead to loss of accuracy
TireTek Tire Pressure Gauge 0-60 PSI
- Dial gauge
- Range: 0 to 60 PSI
- Units: PSI
- Calibrated to ANSI B40.1 Grade B standard (±2%).
- An extended 5mm extra deep chuck tip for excellent seal with no air loss, allowing for accurate and consistent readings.
- Bleeder valve with a single button allows you to set the exact amount of air to release.
- Rust-free durable steel and brass construction
- Dial is protected by a rubber cover.
- Chuck is 45-degree angled and 360-degree swiveling for flexibility.
In the below-$20 price range, the TireTek Premium Tire Pressure Gauge is one of the best tire pressure gauges in terms of accurate and consistent results. It is certified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to be accurate to ±2%. A factor contributing to its consistency and accuracy is the 360-degree swivel chuck that is deep enough for secure valve connection and minimal air loss, which allows for more accurate results.
All in all, this device is very easy to use and read. Its ergonomic body is easy to grip in one hand. The chuck is as compact as that of a stick gauge. The 45-degree angled and full-circle swivel chuck also means you can easily adjust the dial face for easy reading. The dial is commented by buyers to be the easiest to read among the best dial tire pressure gauges, and comes with a rubber cover for protection from physical impacts. Pity that it doesn’t glow for night vision, or else this device would beat most digital gauges in all aspects.
Also, unlike digital gauges, its performance isn’t limited in extreme cold weather since no battery is required. Another extremely handy feature is the bleeder valve to remedy over-inflation that allows you to set the exact amount of air to release. Its rust-resistant steel and brass construction, plus the lifetime satisfaction guarantee, speaks volume about its durability. For just $14.95, you get excellent value for money.
The only major downside is its narrow PSI range. It only reads to 60 PSI, which means it’s only suitable for passenger vehicles which have an optimum pressure of around 30 PSI.
- High accuracy, certified to ANSI standards (±2%)
- Deep swiveling chuck to prevent air loss and maximize accuracy
- Bleeder valve that allows you to set the amount of air to release
- No batteries, so no performance problem in extreme cold
- Overall, very easy to use and read
- Limited pressure range, thus only suitable for passenger vehicles
- Only measures in PSI
- No glow dial for night vision
Slime Digital Sport Tire Pressure Gauge 5-150 PSI
- Digital gauge
- Range: 5-150 PSI
- Units: PSI, kPA, BAR
- Accuracy: +/- 2 PSI at 20-100 PSI, +/- 3 PSI at 101-150 PSI.
- Operating temperature 0-100 degrees F
- Bright green, backlit LED display
- Lighted tip for night use
- Ergonomic grip for easy and safe handling of the tire gauge
- Automatic shut off and long battery life
At the same price range as many other digital gauges in this list, this affordable Slime digital gauge is more accurate, reads to a higher PSI and is more reliable in extreme cold weather. It has a PSI range of 5-150 PSI and a wider operating temperature range of 0-100 degrees F. The manufacturer claims that it’s accurate to ±2 PSI at 20-100 PSI and ±3 PSI at 101-150 PSI, which is consistently testified by users. It measures in 3 units: PSI, kPA, BAR. Overall, at only $16.52, it’s among the top choices within the digital gauge category.
Handy features include a green backlit LED display, a green translucent lighted tip for use at night, auto shut-off feature, a long battery life, a reset button and an ultracompact, ergonomic, rubberized design for easy grip.
The only downside is the expensive battery, which makes replacement costing as much as buying a whole new unit, which is outrageous. The battery is noted by users to last long though, so some might decide to gamble. Another area of concern is some reviewers claim that their unit is not durable.
- Large PSI range
- High accuracy (but not ANSI certified)
- Glowing display for night vision
- Long battery life
- Battery replacement costs as much as buying a new device
- Many users complain about durability
Rhino USA Heavy Duty Tire Pressure Gauge 75 PSI with Hose
- Dial gauge
- Range: 0 to 75 PSI
- Units: PSI
- ANSI certified to B40.1 Grade B standard: ±1.5%
- Brass construction
- Braided hose
- 360-degree swiveling chuck for flexibility and easy reading
- Glowing dial for night vision
This Rhino model receives an overall rating of 4.6 stars from around 4,000 car owners on Amazon, which speaks volume about its value for money. It’s certified by ANSI to B40.1 Grade B standard with an accuracy of ±1.5%, better than many other certified models on the market. It’s a pity that it only reads in PSI and reads to 75 PSI though, so it’s only suitable for passenger cars.
An advantage over other dial models is that it comes with a glowing dial for night vision, and due to its narrow PSI range, its 75 tick marks are conveniently spaced further apart, making it easy to read results.
The bleeder valve that allows you to set the amount of air to release, and the 360-degree swiveling chuck allows for flexibility.
However, complaints from users mostly revolve around the easily kinked braided hose and the shallower chuck stem compared to other options, which might allow for air leakage and thus affect the device’s accuracy and consistency. So while the majority of users have no problem with reliability, some buyers noted the questionable durability. Another downside is the screws for replacing the batteries are incredibly small, making this task more difficult than it should be.
- Easy to read dial
- High accuracy and consistency: ±1.5% ANSI certified
- Bleeder valve that allows you to set the amount of air to release
- Glowing dial for night vision
- Many users complain about durability, like easily kinked hose and air leakage
- Tiny screws make it hard to replace the battery
JACO ElitePro Tire Pressure Gauge 100 PSI
- Dial gauge
- Unit: PSI
- Range: 100 PSI
- Calibrated to ANSI B40.1 International Accuracy Standard (±1.5%)
- 360-degree swivel chuck for easy access to tire valve
- Flexible and durable HybridFlex 10-inch air hose to prevent air leakage
- 100% Lifetime Warranty by JACO Superior Products (for any reason)
- Bleeder valve
- 2-inch glowing dial for night vision
- Pressure hold and reset button
- Shock-resistant gear-style protective guard
- Solid rust-free brass construction
This model from JACO is a bit more expensive thus far, but it receives raving reviews from technicians as well as a 4.7 stars overall rating from almost 5,000 buyers on Amazon. There’s hardly any problem with it, aside from the minor downside that it only reads in PSI. It’s overall a durable, easy to use and easy to read device, earning it a spot in any reviews of the best tire pressure gauge to buy these days.
First is consistently accurate results.The ElitePro is calibrated to ANSI B40.1 International Accuracy Standard and reads to an accuracy of ±1.5%, which is not dependent on the temperature since it’s not battery powered. One factor that contributes to this consistent performance is the flexible no-leak air hose that prevents air loss. It’s also great that this device reads to 100 PSI, making it suitable for use with trucks.
Next is durability. The housing of the gauge is constructed from brass, including both the stem and chuck, while the bezel and body are constructed from steel. It’s built to last, and countless customers have testified on this aspect. The gauge is also surrounded by a rugged, gear-style rubberized guard for shock absorption.
It’s very easy to use and read. Handy features include a built-in bleeder valve to deflate the tires, just press and hold until the pressure reaches your desired PSI. The fully rotational chuck makes it easy to access your valve stems from any angle. The two-inch dial glows in the dark, while readings are locked in place until you push the reset button.
- Large PSI range
- Certified for high accuracy and consistency
- Bleeder valve allows for accurate deflation
- Large, easy to read glowing dial
- Durable construction and components
- No battery, thus not temperature-dependent
- Only reads in PSI
Joes Racing 32307 Tire Pressure Gauge 0-60 PSI
- Dial gauge
- Unit: PSI
- Range: 60 PSI
- Internal spike suppressor for longevity and consistent accuracy.
- Bleeder valve.
- 17″ flexible rubber hose
- Comes with a swivel angled chuck plus a ball chuck for accessing tight spots.
- 2½ inch glow in the dark face.
- No batteries required
- Durable construction: Steel housing and external rubber cushion for shock absorption and allows for good grip.
Despite only reading in PSI and to 60 PSI, which limits its application, this model is particularly praised for its superb durability. It features a heavy duty steel housing and external rubber cushion for shock absorption, which also allows for a comfortable firm grip.
Another much loved feature is the extra durable flexible 17-inch hose, plus a chrome swivel angled chuck for easily accessing the tire valve from any angle. The device also comes with a ball chuck for accessing tight spots. The thread on angle and ball chuck can be changed in seconds if ever needed to fit in a tight spot or if your valve stem access changes.
You will also appreciate the high-flow air pressure release button, which is useful in quickly bringing over-inflated tires down to the desired PSI level. A rare feature is the internal spike suppressor for enhanced accuracy and consistent results.
The 2½-inch glow in the dark dial enables reading in darkened areas, but many users complain that the numbers on the face are so small and hard to read. Some users also report that while the device is accurate in the middle range, it’s not as accurate in the lower and upper ranges.
- Internal spike suppressor for enhanced accuracy
- Includes flexible hose and 2 chucks for access to valve stem in any situation
- Heavy duty construction
- Large glowing dial
- Doesn’t hold the reading after released from the tire valve
- Narrow PSI range
- Only reads in PSI
- Some users reported that it’s not as accurate in the lower and upper ranges.
Longacre 53036 Tire Gauge 100 PSI
- Digital gauge
- Range: 0-100 PSI
- Reads to 0.2 PSI, accurate to 0.8%.
- 2-inch diameter face with large numbers
- Bleeder valve
- Quick “zero” button
- Hi-Flex 14-inch hose
- Angled swivel chuck and ball chuck to access valve stem from any position
- External shock-resistant protective bumper
- Auto shut off feature.
This device is by far the most expensive digital gauge, or a pressure gauge of any type, so there are fewer reviews online, but it receives a 4.8 stars overall rating on Amazon and close to 5 star ratings on other online retailers. For those who can afford it, it’s sworn to be one of the best tire pressure gauges on the market when it comes to accuracy, as proven when calibrated to professional master gauges.
This gauge reads to 0.2 PSI increment with 0.8% accuracy, better than most models on the market. Its 100-PSI range means it’s also perfect for towing trucks, where you might be running 50-PSI tires for daily driving and then need to pump up the tires to 80 PSI to tow a heavy load.
The 2″ face comes with a protective, shock-resistant protective bumper for longevity. Handy features include a 14-inch high-flex hose, coupling with an angled fully rotational chuck for easy access to the tire valve from any angle. Also included is a ball chuck for reaching tight spots. You do need to use both hands to properly fit it on the valve stem and hold it to read the results, but it is not a major inconvenience. Users also appreciate the convenient “zero” button. As this device does not hold pressure, the pressure reading is always active. There’s a bleeder valve, but it won’t let you track deflation with accuracy like dial models.
It’s curious that this digital gauge does not have a backlit LCD screen like most models. Some users complain about the auto shut-off not working properly, killing the battery within a few months. Not exactly a downside, but some find that the flexible hose is a bit stiff, but that is probably to prevent kinks, which would give inaccurate readings. Variations in valve stems are normal, so you might need a bit of finessing to properly seal the gauge on the valve stems.
- The chuck seals well to prevent air loss
- Swiveling head and flexible hose for easy access to valve stem
- Convenient reset function.
- No backlit screen for night vision.
- The button for changing settings doesn’t always work in some cases
Some complaints about the unit not automatically shutting off like it’s supposed to, thus killing the battery within months.
Types Of Tire Pressure Gauge
There are three different types of tire pressure gauge, each with its own benefits and disadvantages. The best tire pressure gauge should be one that is easy to use regularly, easy to read, and this involves whether you’d need one for checking tire pressure in a darkened area. Of course it needs to suit your budget, but this is less relevant, since the most expensive gauges on the market shouldn’t exceed $50.
Whatever the case, you must get a gauge that can read at least double your tire’s optimum pressure as specified by your vehicle manufacturer, or at the very least buy one with a range wide enough to measure the pressure in a temporary spare, which is typically 60 PSI.
Stick gauges, also called pencil or rod gauges, are the most affordable. You can find a highly rated one for less than $10, many of which only cost around $5. Stick gauges are extremely lightweight, compact and shaped like a stick or a tube, or somewhat resembling a ballpoint pen. For all these benefits, this type makes it a bit harder for you to read the results than the other types.
Since a tire pressure gauge is an essential tool you will reach for regularly, dedicated car owners would recommend that you spend just about $10 to $15 extra to get the best tire pressure gauge of the digital or dial type, which typically come with more user friendly displays.
- Large range: 10 PSI to 150 PSI
- Compact and lightweight, many can fit in your pocket
- Simple to use
- The large stick gauges with twin heads can reach the inner tires on trucks and commercial vehicles with dual tire setups
- Questionable accuracy, and there’s hardly any stick gauge that is certified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for accuracy.
- Usually only offer PSI or at most two measurement units
- Hard to read results
- Not as durable as the other types
Digital gauges are generally the easiest to read thanks to their electronic LCD display and very accurate, although you might need to look around for one certified by ANSI for accuracy. Digital gauges cost about $10-$15 on average, slightly more than the stick type but still a minimal investment for something you get a lot of use out of.
Some models light up so you can easily read the result in poorly lit places. Compared to stick gauges, digital gauges are sealed and more resistant to damage from dust and dirt buildup.
A minor downside is that digital gauges are battery-powered, and low battery power can affect accuracy. While batteries can last for years, some models call for pretty pricey replacement, but for all of its benefits, these are not really deal breakers.
- More accurate than stick gauges
- Large range: 5 PSI to 150 PSI
- More detailed measurement: many read in half-pound increments
- Clear displays, many has back-lit LCD display for reading in low light settings
- Usually offer 3 to all 4 air pressure measurement scales
- Compact and lightweight
- Usually has auto shutoff feature to save on battery
- Accuracy can be lost in extreme cold weather and low battery power
- Not many is certified by ANSI for accuracy
- Powered by batteries and battery replacement can be expensive for some models
- Low battery power can result in inaccuracy
- If you have a truck or a commercial vehicle with dual tire setup, you’d need to get a commercial gauge
- Not as durable as dial gauges
Dial gauges are the most expensive, with an average cost of around $25-$30 and the range from $20 to $50. That is still a good investment, considering that they are more durable and accurate than the other types. This category offers many of the most accurate tire pressure gauge models certified by ANSI for accuracy. Furthermore, regarding accuracy, dial gauges are more reliable than digital gauges in extreme temperatures.
Dial gauges have an analog dial with a needle to indicate the pressure, which resembles a clock face. This is quite easy to read, however this type of display is not as effortless to read like digital gauges.
The best dial gauges usually come with handy extra features like an extension hose, a shock-resistant dial cover (since they have more delicate moving parts), and bleeder valve for use when you over-inflated your tires. While the other types also offer models with a bleeder valve, only dial gauges allow you to track exactly how much air you’re releasing.
- Quite many models are ANSI certified
- More reliable than digital gauges in extreme temperatures
- Easy to read dial
- Many come with bleed valves for use when you over-inflated your tires, which even allow you to track exactly how much air you’re releasing
- Tube attachment for reaching awkward valves
- Can be disassembled for thorough cleaning and repair
- The most durable
- Less detailed measurement than digital gauges: Many only read in two-pound increments
- Harder to read than digital gauges
- Usually offer only PSI or at most two measurement scales
- Bulkier than the other types
- Physical impacts can damage spring-type gauges
How To Pick The Best Tire Pressure Gauge For Your Money
The best tire pressure gauges would typically tell you that they are certified to ANSI (American National Standards Institute) international accuracy standards , with an inaccuracy of minus or plus 2%, for instance.
This brings us to an important note on accuracy: All tire pressure gauges have variable accuracy and they tend to lose accuracy over time. And it’s said that when you just started using one, the device tends to be a little stiff at the start and needs a short while to get things going. In short, very few, even the best tire pressure gauges, can measure with an inaccuracy of zero percent.
The best tire pressure gauges today typically have an inaccuracy of plus or minus 1% to plus or minus 5%, with very few models boasting an inaccuracy of plus or minus 0.8% as the industry’s lowest. This might not sound like much, but can actually make a big difference if you run high-pressure tires like those on trucks or recreational vehicles.
For the best results, tire manufacturers and technicians usually recommend that you buy a gauge that can measure approximately twice the optimum pressure recommended for your tires. For instance, if the optimum tire pressure for your vehicle is 30 PSI, you should get the best tire pressure gauge that reads up to 60 PSI.
However, some motorhome tires are inflated to 100 PSI or higher, so it’s not possible to find a gauge that can read to 200 PSI and above. Your best bet is to get one that can read to 160 PSI.
How to check if your tire pressure gauge is accurate: Of course, browsing the customer reviews would gain you insights into how accurate a model is and how long it maintains its accuracy over time. But once you have bought a model, there are two ways to test its accuracy. One is to bring your gauge to a tire dealer or a fleet truck maintenance facility and ask them to check your tire’s pressure using a master tire pressure gauge. This gauge is one that is certified for accuracy, so it’s your best bet. That said, some tire dealers might not calibrate their master gauge properly, which might affect accuracy.
The second way, if you have more money to spend, is to buy a second high-quality gauge and use them both to check your tire pressure from time to time. If the difference in their readings is 4 PSI or above, chances are one or both of your gauges are inaccurate. But if the difference is negligible, say 1 PSI and sometimes 2 PSI, it’s more likely that both are pretty accurate.
The accuracy of a tire pressure gauge is heavily affected by its seal and whether you can line it up consistently with the tire’s inflation valve stem. Better seal means lower likelihood of air escaping and not captured by the gauge, which would give a false reading.
The gauges that form the best, most consistent seals should have an ergonomic shape, a piston made of soft, durable, quality rubber if you have a stick gauge, and a deeper well in the chuck that holds the tire’s valve stem in line if you have a dial type gauge. With these gauges, you will need both hands to operate it though, which is just a minor inconvenience — one for the chuck and one for the dial.
Ease of getting consistent results
A shallower chuck stem increases the chance of air accidentally escaping from the tire, making it harder to get accurate and consistent results. Meanwhile, a deeper well in the chuck that holds the tire’s valve stem in line makes it easy to use and get consistent results.
Some models come with awkward-looking right angles that make it easy to align visually, or are ergonomical with just the right length that makes it easy to hit the valve stem at a correct angle. Many come with a thumb imprint so you can apply force directly in line with the tire’s valve stem for consistent readings.
Ease of reading: Display
The best tire gauges should have easy to read displays, including in low light conditions. Some come with bright, back-lit LCD displays that glow in the dark with large numbers. Furthermore, you should look for one with a separate button for easily cycling through the different measuring units. This is something countless buyers have complained about.
While most car owners would be satisfied with just a PSI reading, you might need additional tire pressure units, so look for models that give readings in various units for different purposes.
For ease of reading, the best tire pressure gauges typically lock on their reading for a while before shutting off. For instance, stick gauges will continue to display their readings until you depress the nylon ruler, while dial gauges will hold the readings until you press the pressure release valve. Digital gauges usually lock on their readings for 20 to 40 seconds before automatically shutting off.
One thing to keep in mind if you opt for digital gauges is that they are battery-powered. Read the customer reviews carefully, as there are instances that many buyers complain about unreasonably expensive replacement batteries. Many models also have temperature accuracy restrictions, and in some cases, a gauge might lose its accuracy in extreme cold climates. But that’s generally not a big problem if you don’t live where it dips below 20 degrees F in the winter.
Digital gauges also have automatic battery-saving settings, so they would automatically shut down, but usually they would give you more than enough time to read the results, unless you’re too distracted.
When it comes to tire pressure gauges, handy features usually include the flashlights and illuminated LCD displays for digital models or the measurable pressure relief valves if we’re talking about dial gauges, and the bleeder valve or built-in deflator for releasing air in the case you over-inflated your tires.
The best tire pressure gauges that come with a bleeder valve should allow you to track exactly how much air you release, usually by pressing the tune button and then press it again when you’re done to return to regular readings. These are usually dial gauges. Other non-dial gauges might not measure how much air you’re releasing, and to release air, you’d usually need to flip the chuck around and use the knob on the back to depress the valve stem.
Another handy feature is automatic reset. This makes it more convenient for you to check tire pressure, also this means you won’t need to calibrate the device to tune it for accuracy as often. When it comes to tire pressure gauge, calibration is recommended at least once a year, regardless of the type and application.
The best tire pressure gauge should come with a heavy-duty solid steel chuck, which would withstand a ton of regular tire checks. For dial gauges, which have many delicate moving parts, look for models with rubber guards to protect them from impacts. Otherwise, the less parts a model has, the less it has to break.
Tire Pressure Gauge: Usage and Maintenance Tips
Tire pressure gauge calibration
You will come across the question “how do I calibrate my tire pressure gauge” a lot. The purpose of calibration is to maintain the accuracy of measurement, since all pressure gauges have variable accuracy and will gradually lose accuracy over time if not calibrated properly.
Calibration is the process of comparing your gauge with a reference instrument with a known margin of error that is made to be as accurate as possible. If your gauge doesn’t match the reference gauge, some adjustments must be made. The reference gauge must be more accurate than your commercial gauge for sure, like the master gauge available at tire dealerships or truck facilities mentioned above.
To calibrate a pressure gauge, you will need to check the values throughout the entire measuring range, which includes zero point, intermediate values, and the full-scale value.
A gauge does not stay calibrated indefinitely, so it is recommended that you calibrate your pressure gauge at least once a year. This applies to all gauges of any type in any industry and any application.
How to Check and Adjust Tire Pressure
Check your car’s tire pressure with a tire pressure gauge is easy and will just take you a few minutes at most:
- Tire pressure increases when the tire has been driven on due to heat buildup. Therefore, for accurate readings, park your vehicle for at least 3 hours or so before using a tire pressure gauge to check tire pressure, so that the tires have time to cool down to the ambient temperature.
- Before proceeding, check your user manual to find out the optimal pressure setting for your car. For most vehicles on the road these days, the typical recommended inflation pressures range from 28 to 36 PSI. And note that the optimum pressure for the front tires and rear tires may be different.
- First, remove the screw-off cap from the inflation valve on each tire. Set them aside so you won’t lose them, as these caps protect the valves from dust and rocks or debris kicked up from the road during rides.
- Apply the pressure gauge to the valve stem and depress it, making sure you form a good seal between the gauge and the stem and push the gauge down firmly on the valve stem to get the most accurate reading. You shouldn’t hear air escaping from the valve, but if there’s a hissing sound, push the gauge in further until it stops. View the pressure reading. If you’re new to using this device, feel free to repeat two to three times to check if you did everything correctly or if you let air escape and rendered the reading inaccurate.
- In case you accidentally overinflate your tires, most tire pressure gauges are fitted with a bleeder valve to bleed or release air from your tire and bring down the pressure.
- When you need to put your spare tire to use, remember to check its pressure as well. Spare tires often have high inflation pressures, typically at 60 PSI. But if it has been sitting around for a while, the air will naturally and gradually escape, bringing the pressure down by a little.
- To get the most accurate pressure reading, you should use your tire pressure gauge first thing in the morning, when the tires haven’t been driven on and the temperature is the coolest. Your vehicle has been stationary for at least three hours, so the air pressure in the tires didn’t increase due to heat buildup from friction with the road. Measuring your tire pressure at least once a month is recommended.
- Remember that a tire pressure monitoring system in your car doesn’t do what a tire pressure gauge does. It only lights up your dashboard to alert you that the pressure of one or more tires dips too low from the optimum level. Just because the warning light isn’t illuminated doesn’t mean that your tire pressure has been set at the proper level.
- Tire manufacturers, technicians and seasoned drivers generally recommended that you buy a gauge with twice the pressure you need, which might only cost you an extra $10 or $20. Seasoned truckers would tell you to get a 100-PSI model, while full-time RVers might even recommend models that can read to 150 PSI. While anything above 100 PSI might seem unnecessarily high, that’s what you need if you’ve got truck tires that need 50 PSI or RV tires that need 80 PSI or so.
Tire pressure gauge storage and maintenance
- A note on maximizing the lifespan of your tire pressure gauge is to keep your gauge at room temperature, somewhere without exposure to extreme heat or cold, since extreme temperatures can adversely affect performance. That means keeping it in the glove box is a no-no.
- In addition, store it away from dust and grime, which can also affect its performance and lifespan. Dust and grime can cause pencil or stick gauges to stick, and cause dial gauges and digital gauges to give inaccurate readings. Mechanical gauges like the stick dial types are typically made with few parts and are easy to clean, and some can be disassembled for a thorough cleaning. Digital gauges are usually sealed and cannot be dismantled for cleaning, so it’s best to always store them somewhere clean without gathering dust when not in use.
More Tips on How To Maintain Proper Tire Pressure
Air loss is pretty common with car tires. Almost all tires lose air pressure gradually over time through the inflation valve. There’s a cap, but the role of the valve stem’s dust cap is to keep dirt out instead of better keeping air in. This natural air loss is unavoidable, even if the vehicle is in storage and rarely driven, or when the tire is mounted on the car as a spare, or the tire’s just sitting around in your garage.
In addition, pressure loss can be caused by bumping up against a curb or driving on bumpy roads, which can cause the seal between the tire and the wheel rim to separate momentarily, thus letting some air escape. Other common culprits to air pressure loss is a faulty tire valve, and damage to the wheel rim due to physical impacts. If a tire is not damaged by physical shocks on the road and is properly mounted on the rim, most of the pressure loss will come from air escaping through the rubber sidewall.
What affects tire pressure
Large temperature fluctuation will affect your tire pressure. Hot air expands and is less dense, but inside a tire, this expansion means increased pressure. Meanwhile, cold air condenses, so inside a tire, this condensation means lowering pressure. A car tire may measure at 30 PSI at 80-degree temperatures during the day, but early morning the next day, when the temperature drops to 30 degrees, it might return a reading of only 25 PSI.
On days with substantial fluctuation in temperature, say 60 to 80 degrees during the day and 20 to 30 degrees at night, your tire pressure can vary by about 3 to 5 PSI. This is why it’s pretty normal if on a cold winter morning, you find the low-pressure indicator light on your dashboard illuminating, but once you start driving, the tires will warm up and the light will shut off.
Despite what many might believe, your tire’s air pressure is almost unaffected by the weight of the vehicle. When it’s unmounted, a tire that is inflated to 30 PSI will still measure the same when it’s mounted and bearing the weight of the car, maybe with just a negligible variation.
Proper tire pressure
When inflating your tires, it’s crucial that you inflate them to the accurate pressure setting as recommended by the automaker. You can find this information in your owner’s manual, or look for a sticker or placard inside the glove compartment or on the driver’s-side door or the fuel-filler door. This recommended pressure will give you the best balance of ride comfort, fuel economy, tread wear and service life.
* Optimum pressure vs Maximum pressure: An important note though, is that every tire would have a “max pressure” number on the tire sidewall. This is NOT the optimum tire pressure for your particular vehicle’s make and model, but is the maximum amount of pressure that the particular tire can withstand without damage. As tires usually fit a number of different vehicles, “max pressure” is not a guide for safe operational pressure level. The optimum tire pressure for your vehicle can only be provided by the vehicle manufacturer.
Types of air compressors
If you don’t live near a gas station with an accessible air compressor for putting air into your tires, it’s a good idea to invest in a portable air compressor on top of a good tire pressure gauge, both of which are quite affordable. There are also heavy duty, fancy air compressors available, but they’re not necessary for most car owners.
Air compressors and tire inflators for cars come in many types and forms, ranging from simple and affordable models to fancy, heavy duty digital systems that require a power outlet. There is also the 12-volt portable version which uses the cigarette lighter in your car, but keep in mind that you will need to keep your car’s engine running while using this type of air compressor. You can also look for air compressors that inflate tires quicker than others to save time.
Auto Tire Pressure Gauges: FAQs
1. What are the best tire pressure gauge brands?
2. What makes my tire pressure increase or decrease?
Meanwhile, loss of air pressure is more common and is also likely caused by bumping up against a curb or driving on bumpy roads, which can cause the seal between the tire and the wheel rim to separate momentarily, thus letting some air escape. Other common culprits to air pressure loss is a faulty tire valve, and damage to the wheel rim due to physical impacts.
3. Will cold weather affect my tire pressure?
As above, extreme heat might cause the air in your tires to expand, thus increasing the pressure. Meanwhile, in very cold weather, the air will be more condensed, thus the pressure will drop. In the winter, the low-pressure indicator light on your dashboard may illuminate first thing in the morning, since it’s usually coldest overnight, but once you start driving, the tires will warm up and the light will shut off after a short while.
4. Is under-inflated tires really that dangerous?
Under-inflated tires means decreased stability, and due to the increased contact with the road, it can lead to excessive heat buildup, which can cause the tread to separate entirely from the tire and render the vehicle completely out of control. Imagine driving at high speed when this happens.
5. How often should I check my tire pressure?
Nowadays with the Tire Pressure Monitoring System in most new vehicles, there’s a good chance that many folks will only check the tire pressure when the check tire light illuminates. While the laziest folks might even go with the “eye test,” trying to check whether their tires appear flatter than usual. Visual inspection alone is not recommended, since your tires would be way under the proper pressure before you can notice it with a glance. Using a tire pressure gauge routinely is the best way to ensure optimal handling, braking and fuel economy.
6. How do I use a tire pressure gauge?
+ To get an accurate reading, make sure the tires haven’t been driven on, which would create heat and mess with the measurement. Park your car for at least three or so before proceeding with the tire pressure gauge.
+ Apply the pressure gauge to the valve stem, making sure you form a good seal between the gauge and the stem. Then, release air from the tire into the gauge (when you do this, the pin inside the gauge will press against the pin inside the valve stem).
+ A plastic rod will extend from the gauge to give you a pressure reading. It should be noted that with stick gauges, it’s recommended that you repeat two or three times to make sure you have an accurate reading.
+ If the pressure is higher than the recommended level, most of the best tire pressure gauges will also allow you to release air from your tires by putting the opposite end into the valve stem.
Digital tire gauges are even easier to use. All you have to do is turn on the gauge and place it on the valve stem of your tire. This type typically also provides more accurate readings, so you wouldn’t need to perform multiple PSI readings. They require batteries to operate though, so you just need to store some spare batteries on hand.
7. I understand psi and bar, but what are kPa and kg/cm2?
A kPa stands for a kilopascal. One kPa = 0.145038 PSI. It’s also equal to 1,000 pascals, or 1,000 newtons per square meter, or 1 kilogram per meter per second squared.
One kg/cm2, written as one kilogram per centimeter per second, is the same as kgf/cm2, written as one kilogram of force per centimeter per second. One kg/cm2 = 14.2233 PSI. This metric is seldomly used, and instead pascals or kilopascals are more commonly used.
Last Updated on July 13, 2021