How to Check Your Tire Pressure at a Gas Station
Sign Up to get great deals for cars!
Subscribe to our blog that will make you look like an expert dealer.
Your tires play an essential role in keeping you and others safe while on the road. After all, they're the part of your vehicle that maintains contact with the pavement.
Tires affect many aspects of your car's road performance, like acceleration, handling, ride quality, and gas mileage.
Because of tires' importance to your car's overall efficiency, maintaining them in good working order is best. Regular tire maintenance includes rotation, driving under normal conditions, and inflation to the recommended tire pressure.
You can check your tire's air pressure using your own gauge, but what if you're on the road and don't have one? Your only option may be stopping at a gas station and using their tire inflation gauge.
What's the easiest way to use the tire inflation gauge at a gas station?
Let's explore the subject of how to check for tire pressure at a gas station.
The importance of tire pressure
Keeping your tires inflated to the recommended pressure level ensures optimum performance in several categories.
First and foremost, you want an ideal contact patch for the best traction during day-to-day driving and for when the weather becomes challenging, like when it rains or snows.
When a tire isn't inflated to the proper pounds per square inch (PSI), the area in contact with the road shrinks, lessening its grip. Underinflation also causes wear along a tire's shoulders, which is the area between the tread and sidewall.
With less air pressure to absorb bumps, underinflated tires can also negatively affect ride quality. Additionally, low air pressure makes tires more susceptible to damage or blowout from potholes or other imperfections in the road.
Underinflated tires also decrease fuel economy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, for each PSI of underinflation in your vehicle's tires, you lose .1 percent of gas mileage. While that may seem like a small figure, it adds up over time, emphasizing the need to keep tires properly inflated.
Overinflated tires also contribute to issues like poor handling due to decreased traction and bad ride quality because they can't absorb impacts as well.
Vehicle manufacturers determine the optimum tire pressure during the vehicle design process, which you can typically find on a label located on the driver's side doorjamb.
When you shop for a used car, you want something in excellent condition, from the engine to the tires, so it's good to go for many miles. And adding an extended warranty gives you peace of mind that you're covered and won't empty your savings account paying for it if a mechanical issue occurs. Shift offers best-in-class service contracts at a fair price without sales pressure. You get the great price and value of a used car with the bumper-to-bumper protection of a new car.
With a Shift Vehicle Protection plan, not only are essential components covered, but you also receive roadside assistance. Wherever you happen to be in the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, or Canada, help is just a toll-free phone call away, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
How to check for tire pressure at a gas station
If you're on the road and have reason to believe your tires are underinflated, stopping to check them at a gas station may be your best bet.
Many gas stations have equipment that not only provides a pressure reading for your tires but also inflates them, improving your ride quality, handling, and fuel efficiency.
Some service stations might have high-tech tire inflation equipment with digital readouts that show the current pressure in your tires.
Or others might use old-fashioned mechanical gauges driven by air pressure instead of computers.
If you're a do-it-yourselfer, having your own tire pressure gauge is especially convenient, as they're small and maneuverable, without the need to drag around an air hose from tire to tire.
When you need to use the tire gauge provided by a gas station, you might be concerned about doing it right. But many of them have thorough instructions walking you through each step, ensuring you obtain an accurate reading. But if you still find yourself wondering how to use the equipment properly, a staff person can guide you through the process.
For the most accurate PSI reading, it helps if the tires have cooled down a bit. Also, knowing your tires' recommended PSI assists you in inflating them back to the proper level.
To check the air pressure in your tires, first, remove the valve stem caps on each tire. Then, push the end of the tire inflation equipment or tire gauge onto the tire's valve stem, listening for a faint hiss as the air goes into it. At that point, a number should appear on the gauge, letting you know the current PSI.
It's a good practice to check your tires' pressure every month for the best handling, traction, and gas mileage.
How to put air in tires at a gas station
Although different gas stations use varying types of tire inflation equipment, they mostly work the same. Driven by an air compressor that pumps air into your tires, these devices are generally simple to use.
Typically, you first have to turn on the air compressor by pushing a button or paying with coins or a credit card. When the air compressor switches on, you'll hear a loud hum, and it's time to begin inflating your tires. Then grab the hose connected to the air compressor, taking hold of the tool on the end.
With all your valve stem caps removed, go to each tire, press the tip of the inflation tool onto the valve, and begin adding air to your tires. When the inflation starts, the air compressor sounds louder, and when you finish each tire, you'll hear a slight hissing sound.
Some tire inflation equipment includes a built-in pressure gauge or digital readout, helping you reach the proper PSI. But if it doesn't, you'll need your own tire gauge to determine if it's correct.
After filling up your tires with air, remember to screw on the valve stem caps to decrease pressure loss and provide protection from road debris and weather.
Owning a vehicle brings many expenses, like fuel, insurance, wear and tear items like tires, and repairs not covered by warranty. Finding ways to reduce your auto-related costs helps keep extra cash in your bank account, so you have the funds for other essential obligations. One way of doing this is by securing a good car loan. Shift works with a network of trusted lenders who compete for your business, so you get the best deal on financing. Applying for financing with Shift is quick and easy, with no cost or obligation. Most applicants receive an offer within minutes instead of days. Financing with Shift is so convenient that nine out of 10 customers choose us when they need a loan. If you have poor credit, don't worry — we welcome co-signers, too.
2019 Subaru BRZ (from $31,450)
2019 Ford F-150 (from $44,950)
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the author or Shift Technologies, Inc. Shift does not endorse or evaluate the accuracy of any claims made or data provided by third party sources referenced herein.
This article is for informational and educational purposes only and may contain copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our effort to advance auto education. We believe this constitutes "fair use" of any such copyrighted materials as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law. The material in this [article/blog/website] is distributed without profit and only to those who have demonstrated an interest in receiving the included information for research or educational purposes.
All prices are based on vehicle availability and pricing as of
April 15, 2022
Pricing shown is not guaranteed and does not include taxes or other product fees.