ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Don't Pay for Air: Keeping Your Tires Inflated Without Inflating Your Debt

Updated on September 23, 2014

Keeping your vehicle's tires properly inflated is one of the most important yet overlooked aspects in staying safe and preserving your vehicle's gas mileage. Under-inflated tires will decrease fuel efficiency and increase your tires' sensitivity to the heat caused by the friction of driving. No matter how new your car or your tires, you need to check your tire pressure at least once a week. Here is how you can keep your tire properly inflated without constantly chucking all your change into a gas-station air pump.

Air compressor attached to tire's valve stem.
Air compressor attached to tire's valve stem.

Step 1: Buy a Portable Air Compressor

You can buy a portable air compressor from any large retailer or auto parts store. If you are shopping close to the holiday season, you can also find them at various discount retailers and department stores.

These air compressors are small but capable of filling car tires to their maximum capacity. Usually they are powered through your car's 12V DC ("cigarette lighter") outlet.

They usually range in price from $10 to around $30, making them a great investment considering how much change you might throw away at the gas station pay pump. Another big advantage: you can take it with you wherever you go, so if one of your tires is low, you can fill it up as soon as you notice it.

Tire pressure information label inside door frame panel.
Tire pressure information label inside door frame panel.

Step 2: Know the Recommended Air Pressure

Next, you need to know the air pressure value that your vehicle's manufacturer recommends for your tires. You can usually find this out from the sticker on the inside panel of the driver's side door. For most passenger cars and light trucks, the recommended pressure ranges from 30 to 35 psi (pounds per square inch).

Air compressor plug outside of 12V DC outlet
Air compressor plug outside of 12V DC outlet
Air compressor plug inserted into 12V DC outlet.
Air compressor plug inserted into 12V DC outlet.

Step 3: Fill Up Your Tires!

You will then need to plug the air compressor into the DC outlet. Usually it is a good idea to roll down your window and stretch the cord through it. It will most likely be long enough for you to set the compressor on the ground by the two tires on the driver's side. You will then need to stretch the cord through the passenger's side window to fill up those tires.

Also make sure to periodically check the air pressure with a separate gauge while inflating the tire. Although the compressor will likely have a gauge built in, I find that these usually are not reliable, sometimes reading up to ten pounds above the actual pressure. If you don't already have a gauge, it's a good idea to get one of the circular ones with a needle indicator as opposed to the metal stick-type variety. These can become unreliable after a couple of years of use.

BIG TIP: Don't forget to check your spare tire's air pressure! If you drive anything other than an SUV or pickup truck, your spare tire likely requires up two times or more air pressure than the regular tires because of its smaller diameter. This also means that air leaks out of these tires faster. These “donut” style spares can be fully inflated one week and lose up to 75% or more of their air pressure the next. Of course, if you carry your air compressor with you (most of them are easily able to be stowed in the trunk or behind a seat) and you get a flat tire, you can check the spare's air pressure at that time and fill it up to its required pressure, often from 65 to 75 psi. But it is best to do this when filling all of the other tires. As in all aspects of driving, it is always best to be prepared for the worst.

Review:

  1. Portable air compressors can be bought cheaply and stored in your vehicle easily.

  2. Make sure to fill your tires up to the recommended pressure indicated on the label attached to your vehicle.

  3. Monitor the air pressure with a separate tire gauge, preferably one with a needle and a scale higher than 70 psi.

  4. Try to find an adapter that will let you connect the portable compressor straight to the battery to avoid burning out the interior 12v DC outlet.

  5. Don't forget the spare tire! If you are driving a car or other compact vehicle, your spare could be smaller than the rest, requiring 65-75 psi.

  6. Be safe out there!

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Dee42 profile image

      Dee42 

      6 years ago from Beautiful Arkansas

      Amen, Wesman Todd Shaw!! :)

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      It was a sad day in America whenever the conspiracy to charge money for use of the air compressor became a convenience station viral meme....

    • howardyoung profile image

      Howard Young 

      6 years ago from California

      Most gas stations will give you tokens to operate the air refilling station if you buy gas from them. You just have to ask.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      This is an excellent, useful guide. I wish people going to driving school were taught things like this! Awesome Hub!

    • Dee42 profile image

      Dee42 

      6 years ago from Beautiful Arkansas

      I wished I knew this kind of stuff!! Ha. Loved this hub, very useful stuff! I'm really gonna buy one, bad roads and all.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)