Are Tire Pressure Gauges Accurate? Tips for Reliable Readings

Are Tire Pressure Gauges Accurate? Tips for Reliable Readings
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Underinflated tires are not only frustrating but risky as they can lead to tire failure. The easiest and best option for maintaining your car tires is through a tire-pressure gauge. You can use the gauge maybe once a month or before taking that long trip.

However, tires with little air pressure will wear down quickly and unevenly, consume more fuel, and critically impact your car’s braking and tire performance. So your tire pressure gauge must be of high quality to give you an accurate reading. Read on to know more about tire pressure gauges.

What to Know About Pressure Gauges

Some drivers find it easier and quicker to use gas station gauges which is still an option. But sometimes, the readings may be inaccurate since they are not adequately maintained and are used by many drivers daily.

Your tire gauge’s accuracy depends on how well you maintain it. So you should get a protective sleeve to store your gauge. This will help prevent dust and the impact of your gauge from dropping on the ground. Dirty, old, and worn-out gauges are unreliable and inaccurate. Once you notice such signs, ensure you replace them immediately.

Also, tire gauges are readily available at an affordable price range. You can shop online at auto-parts stores, big retailers, and other merchants. The prices will depend on the type of tire gauge you prefer.

Most modern automobiles now include Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS), which eliminates the difficulty of determining if your vehicle’s tire pressure level is low or not.

When it comes to measuring an accurate tire pressure gauge, you may want to do the following.

How to Check For Tire Gauge Accuracy

Check your tire pressure with your gauge, then use a different tire gauge of good quality. Compare the readings between these two gauges. For example, if there’s a difference of 3 or more psi, one of the two gauges is inaccurate. But if the readings are between 1-2 psi, then both gauges are accurate.

Another option is using a master test gauge which is certified as accurate and calibrated. You can either purchase one or go to your local tire dealer facility and have your tires checked with their master test gauge. However, it is common to find that the master gauge is not calibrated regularly in some of these facilities. This means that buying your master test gauge is the best option.

Types of Pressure Gauges

The market is filled with various tire gauges of different qualities and prices. What you choose is the determinant of the rated pressure. For example, most psi gauges range from 32 to 35, but a 0-60 psi – tire gauge is excellent and sufficient. RV & motorhome tires can be 100 psi or higher.

Overinflated and underinflated tires are a problem and unsafe for you. It is best to always go for the correct tire gauge and double the tire inflation pressure with readings to avoid this. Pencil tire gauges are a common type that accurately read + or – 3% when they are new.

The different tire air pressure gauges include digital, dial, and stick.

Stick Gauges Models

Stick gauges, which mimic a sharpie pen, are compact, simple, and relatively inexpensive. But they are more challenging to read than conventional digital gauges.

Digital Pressure Gauges

Digital technology advancements have improved significantly, unlike before, when the only option you had were analog gauges. Today, tire gauges have moved from analog to digital tire gauges. Some models like the AstroAl Digital Tire inflator Gauge are perfect with excellent accuracy in reading.

Digital gauges, like pocket calculators, contain an electric LCD that makes them simpler to interpret. They’re incredibly durable from grime and damage. Some digital readouts illuminate, making them useful for monitoring pressure in low-light conditions.

Overall, digital tire pressure gauges are slightly larger than stick gauge models and require batteries. Although batteries last for years depending on the usage, they eventually run out and have to be replaced.

 man holding gauge measurement pressure

Dial Type

Dial gauge models contain an analog dial that looks like a clock face and a simple needle to display pressure. Some types include extra features than pocket-sized gauges. The features include a bleeder valve, a dual-scale dial, an extension hose, and a shock-resistant dial cover.

The majority of dial gauges are simple to read, but if you find versions with an extension hose, you may need an extra hand to operate them. Analog dials are bulkier and more expensive than other models.

Dual-chuck Tire Pressure Gauge

Some tire gauges contain a dual-head swivel chuck specifically for a dual-rear tire layout, like heavy-duty vehicles or motorhomes. The heavy-duty tire gauge comes in with a built-in LED flashlight to help you see the inner tire valve stem.

On the backlit screen display, the gauge displays pressures ranging from 5 -100 psi and kPa and bar. This digital model comes with two AAA batteries and shuts down after 30 seconds.

Tire Pressure Gauge For an Air Compressor

You can fill your tires using an air compressor, but once you attach a pressure gauge to the air hose, you eliminate the need to detach the air hose to inspect the pressure. These models measure from 0 -250 psi and can provide pressure readings in kPa, bar, and metric tons. The gauge also has a bleeder valve to allow air out of overinflated tires. In addition, the backlit LCD screen automatically switches itself off after 20 seconds of inactivity to conserve battery life.

How Do you Know If your Tires are Appropriately Inflated?

Knowing your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure is critical if it has (TPMS) Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems. If you don’t know the correct tire pressure, you can check the manual or locate a placard inside the driver’s door. The figure is indicated in psi (pounds per square inch) which is the maximum pressure your tires can hold.

Note that the specified tire pressure levels for the front and rear tires may differ. Therefore, check the front and rear readings when assessing if your tires are correctly inflated.

Importance of Proper Tire Inflation

Vehicles have optimum tire pressures for a purpose that includes:

  • Correct inflation has an impact on your fuel efficiency.
  • It’s safe and comfortable to drive on properly inflated tires.
  • Guarantees evenly tires wear, which increases the lifespan of your tires.

Overinflated air in your tires creates greater rigidity and stiffness, leading to a bumpier ride. There’s an increased impact with the road around the core of your tire. This increases more wear in the center. Uneven tires wear out either on the outer sections or sides, clearly indicating overinflated.

Over-inflation or underinflation of your tires may negatively affect their performance. Underinflated tires have more ground contact with the road, and driving for an extended period may cause premature tire wear.


Spending more dollars to get a quality tire pressure gauge is worth it. However, you can still get a quality one at a reasonable price from a tire shop. And if you want your type of gauge to serve you for years, ensure you use protective sleeves to prevent dust and improve cleanliness.

Using a worn-out gauge will give you inaccurate pressure readouts that will damage your automobile tires. Note that tire failure is unsafe for you when on the road and having an extra spare tire is an innovative and necessary move. Finally, to ensure your gauge shows accurate and correct pressure, buy quality models from reputable manufacturers.


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