Proper tire pressure equals better gas mileage for your car, and tires that are properly inflated save you money — more than $50 a year. To the single user that is a nice little pay off, especially considering a tire gauge costs less than that. But now the question is, which tire pressure gauge works the best?
I remember my dad checking my tire with the simple sliding-stick “pencil-style” pressure gauge. That is the only kind of gauge I saw for years. But the sliding-stick gauges don’t give a precise measurement and wear out over time. Then I got my own car, and I would have to check my tires somewhere other than home. Resorting to a worn-out public gauge at the gas station, I would try and get a reading with the beat up tire gauge.
In another article Tire Pressure: Use a Digital Gauge and Get Better Gas Mileage, different tire pressure gauges were compared, and the digital tire gauge won. It offers accurate readings to the tenth of a pound per square inch (psi) and was just as simple to use as the old sliding-stick gauge. And with a range of $5 to $30, the gauge quickly pays for itself.
To help you find a great digital tire pressure gauge, I tested three models to see how they worked. As you will see, some gauges have more features than just a tire pressure gauge, but they are all digital tire pressure gauges in some form. Here is a digital tire gauge review of three different gauges.
Alloy Tire Gauge from Michelin
Sturdy is a good word for this tire gauge. It is constructed out of aluminum, making it heavier than many other small digital gauges on the market. Most others are constructed from plastic. The gauge easily fits in your hand, and the shape of it makes it easy to press on your tire to find the correct tire pressure. A blue-glow black light lights up the end where you test the pressure and the screen. This made checking tire pressure at night convenient. The gauge also comes with a nice black case and an attachment to check the pressure of smaller vehicles, such as bicycles. For around $22, this gauge seemed like it would last the longest for the money.
8-in-1 Tire Gauge from McGills Warehouse
A digital tire gauge can offer more than tire pressure, and this gauge is an excellent example. This 8-in-1 gauge seemed more like the Swiss Army gauge, compared to the other two models I tried. It features digital tire pressure gauge, digital tread depth gauge, LED flash light on top, back-lighted screen, bleeder valve for pressure adjustment, hammer to shatter glass in case of door jam, seatbelt cutter and compass. I am not sure I need all those features, but having it in the side of my door just in case could be a good idea. As far as the pressure checking, the gauge was a little harder to use because it was a little larger. It did work just fine though. The gauge is made of plastic and has started to scratch, but besides that, it has no other wear. This gizmo costs around $20. Overall, it lives up to its 8-in-1 status.
Small Tire Gauge from McGills Warehouse
Don’t let its size fool you. This small digital tire gauge offers all the benefits of a regular tire gauge, just in a smaller form. The gauge has a black light screen so it can easily be used at night. Another great addition to this gauge is the beep it sounds when it has recorded the pressure. I appreciated knowing when it was done doing its job. Along with this gauge, you get a small tread depth checker as well. It is just a small plastic board that reads the depth, making it not as accurate as other digital models. You get all this for $18. Overall, this was my favorite gauge because of its size, beeping sound and overall ease.
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So after you have a gauge, all you have to do is check your tires every couple weeks when the tires are cold. That means when you haven’t driven your car or have driver less than a mile. Once you have your reading, compare it to the listed tire pressure located on the door frame of the driver’s door, the glove box or the driver’s manual. Don’t go off the pressure listed on the tire. That is the highest recommended pressure. That is not what you want. Next, add air to the tires to compensate for any loss. The average tire loses 1 to 2 pounds a month, so it is important to check them regularly. This can improve your gas mileage by 3 percent, saving you around $.09 a gallon, according to the U.S Department of Energy.
So even if your tires look inflated, check them. According to the Department of Transportation, a quarter of American cars on the road have at least one tire that is seriously low. That adds up, especially when you consider the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 1.2 billion gallons of gasoline are wasted a year from under inflated tires.
If you try out any digital tire gauges yourself, let us know! Tell us about your fuel savings in the comments below.
Photos by Brenna Long