Under-inflated tires are one of the most underestimated causes of tire failure and are responsible for over 660 deaths every year on American roads. By using the best tire pressure gauges available and performing frequent check-ups of the air pressure in your tires could prevent such failures easily.
Air pressure gauges come in all shapes and sizes depending on the specific use they are designed for but they are all pretty easy to work with. Whether you'd rather buy yourself a fancy gauge with all the bells and whistles or a more sturdy and professional one makes no real difference as long as it's reliable and easy to use.
Table of Contents
- 5 Best Tire Pressure Gauge Reviews 2018
- Accutire MS-4021B Digital Tire Pressure Gauge
- TireTek Premium Tire Pressure Gauge
- TEKTON 5941 Digital Tire Gauge
- Rhino USA Heavy Duty Tire Pressure Gauge
- Astro 3018 Digital Tire Pressure Gauge and Inflator
- Tire Pressure Gauge Buying Guide
- 3 Signs You Need to Check Your Car’s Tire Pressure
- How to Check Tire Pressure With A Tire Gauge
5 Best Tire Pressure Gauge Reviews 2018
Top Rated Tire Gauge
Accutire MS-4021B Digital Tire Pressure Gauge
This is a great entry level tire pressure gauge designed for everyday use. It features a bright LCD display reading air pressure from 5 to 150 psi, which should be enough for pretty much everybody.
The angled head is perfect to fit in most types of rims and the rubber handle will help prevent slipping when your hands are covered with dirt and grime.
One of the best features of this gauge is the automatic shut off system to prevent tire deflation when disconnecting the gauge from the stem valve. It's especially useful with TPMS-equipped cars and will save you the hassle of having to inflate the tire a couple psi more than required, taking into account that it will deflate a little when you remove the gauge. Good stuff!
Overall, the Accutire MS-4021B is a really good and accurate tire gauge. Just buy one and leave it in your glovebox.
TireTek Premium Tire Pressure Gauge
The TireTek tire gauge is built with professional use in mind but the compact design makes it perfect for everyone. It's made out of steel and brass and is surrounded by a rubber cover to protect it from virtually any impact. Be warned that the pressure range only goes up to 60 psi and won't work for bigger trucks.
In terms of accuracy, you can't really get any better than an international ANSI B40.1 Grade B accuracy standard. Analog gauges are usually less accurate than digital ones but a 2% accuracy rate is probably better than you'll ever need.
An interesting feature of the TireTek gauge is the rotating chuck. Unlike most gauge where the inflating chuck is in a fixed position, the TireTek can rotate over 360 degrees to access even the tightest spots. It's especially useful on wire wheels and other more expensive wheels with the valve stem on the inside of the wheel.
The only drawback with this gauge is the lack of lighting or glow in the dark dial making it hard to read at night. It's definitely more suited for mechanics who usually work during the day.
Overall, the TireTek tire pressure gauge is perfect for every small vehicle owners and mechanics. It even comes with a 100% lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.
TEKTON 5941 Digital Tire Gauge
The Tekton digital tire gauge comes equipped with a neat lighted nozzle and backlit LCD display for the best visibility possible in all lighting conditions. It features a single button to turn on the display, select the desired measurement ranges, and turn off. The only con with a single-button system is that to turn on the display you need to press on the button rather quickly or it will automatically toggle between ranges. You need to be careful to make sure it's set on the correct range everytime you use it.
The nozzle is designed to seal perfectly around the valve stem to eliminate the risk of leaks or deflation. The Tekton tire gauge can read up to 100 psi which should be more than enough for any kind of car or truck.
The Tekton gauge is definitely a must-have tool you should carry in your car at all time in case you get a flat tire in the middle of the night. You simply can't go wrong with this one.
Rhino USA Heavy Duty Tire Pressure Gauge
The Rhino USA analog tire pressure gauge looks a lot like the TireTek tire gauge mentioned earlier, except that the Rhino comes with a much-needed 2" glow-in-the-dark display and a 360-degrees swivel braided hose for a longer and more convenient reach.
The Rhino USA gauge is a piston plunger style gauge which is probably one of the best and most accurate styles of pressure gauge available. Like the TireTek, it also comes with a pressure lock/release valve and a rubber cover to protect it from drops and impacts. It's also certified by the international ANSI B40.1 Grade B accuracy standard and it's guaranteed to be accurate +/-1%.
This gauge is a little more expensive than the others mentioned before but the added accuracy and the glow-in-the-dark display are worth every buck. The Rhino USA also comes with a guaranteed 5-star experience or they will refund your money!
And it even comes with stickers! What more can you ask for?
Astro 3018 Digital Tire Pressure Gauge and Inflator
The Astro Digital Tire Inflator Gauge is clearly on another level. This is an all-in-one pressure gauge and inflator designed with professionals in mind and consequently requires to be connected to an air compressor which can be a major drawback for some people. You simply can't bring this one with you or leave it in your glovebox even if you'd only like to use it as a standalone pressure gauge.
The materials used are nothing compared to the other gauges on this list. The hose is made out of stainless steel and features a lock-on air chuck for easy one-hand operation. The chuck can also be replaced with any 1/4" NPT standard accessories which is a neat feature for professional mechanics.
The pressure resolution is 0.1psi to work with even the most sensitive TPMS systems and the pressure range goes up to an impressive 175psi. I'm not even sure what kind of vehicle could require a tire pressure that high but at least you know that you'll probably never need to buy another tire gauge after you get this one.
Overall, the Astro tire pressure gauge and inflator can be compared to other more expensive big name tool brands like Blue-point or Craftsman, which are widely used in the industry, for a fraction of the price.
Tire Pressure Gauge Buying Guide
The first thing you need to look at when trying to buy a tire gauge is obviously the pressure range. Most cars these days require a tire pressure between 30 and 40 psi but bigger trucks can easily go well over 80 psi. Make sure you select a tire gauge that will fit your vehicle's recommended tire pressure.
Depending on whether you intend to use your tire gauge professionally or not, the overall sturdiness may be more or less important. Professional mechanics looking for a tire gauge that will last a lifetime should be prepared to pay a little more. Rubber padding is a must to protect your investment if you intend to use your gauge every day in the shop.
Gauges made out of metal will obviously last longer than the plastic one. For gauges equipped with a hose, always look for those with a braided one instead of rubber or plastic ones. Rubber tends to dry out and crack after a while, leading to leaks and inaccurate readings.
On the other hand, if you intend to leave your tire gauge in your glove box and only use it once a month or so, a plastic gauge will do just fine. No need to take out the big bucks here!
Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) equipped cars require a much more accurate tire pressure to keep the system happy. Most systems will detect a difference of 2 to 5 psi between tires and will light up the TPMS warning light when it's the case. Always look for some kind of certification when you buy a tire pressure gauge, especially if your car is equipped with a TPMS system.
Digital or analog?
Digital gauges are typically more accurate and easier to read than analog ones. The only drawback of digital tire pressure gauges is that they require batteries to work. Once the battery is dead, the gauge won't work anymore, unlike analog gauges who require nothing more than air pressure to do their job.
Digital gauges sometimes come with interesting added features like Min/Max readings and an automatic pressure setup function which can be a must if you don't want to always have to remember what pressure you need to put in your tires.
Depending on what you intend to do with your tire gauge, the size could also be an important factor. Some gauges are small enough they can fit in the palm of your hand while others are a lot bulkier. Those equipped with an inflator hose are usually a lot bigger and are mostly designed for shop use.
3 Signs You Need to Check Your Car’s Tire Pressure
Uneven tire wear
The term "footprint" is used to describe the area of the tire in contact with the road. Even if wear is to be expected because of the constant rubbing on the pavement, tires should wear uniformly. An uneven wear of the footprint is often a sign that you should take out your tire gauge and check the air pressure imperatively.
The wider footprint of underinflated tires will lead to premature wear of the exterior of the threads. If the tires are almost flat, you could even see wear appearing to the lower portion of the sidewalls. That's not good. Tires with worn out sidewalls need to be replaced as soon as possible to prevent any risk of potentially harmful blowouts.
With overinflated tires, on the other hand, wear will typically appear only in the middle of the threads. This condition will reduce the grip of the tires to a minimum and aquaplaning is to be expected in rainy weather.
Change in the vehicle maneuvrability
On a car, the tires are directly linked to the direction and suspension systems. Any change in your tires' behavior will have an impact on the whole maneuvrability of the vehicle.
If your tires are slowly deflating, you could feel everything from a slight wobble in the steering wheel to the whole car shaking. Braking distance could become longer or shorter than usual depending on the weather condition. Due to the added resistance of the tires on the pavement, turning the steering wheel at lower speeds could become difficult if not impossible.
Overinflated tires aren't as easy to identify while driving as underinflated tires but you can still tell something is not quite right. Your suspension should feel stiffer than what you are used to and potholes could hit harder. Braking distance could also be affected especially on icy roads because of the reduced size of the footprint.
Below-average fuel economy
Driving with not enough air pressure in your tires can have a direct impact on your fuel consumption. The footprint of the tires will increase as the air pressure drops and the added resistance simply leads to burning more fuel. A typical car will burn around 1% more fuel for every 3 psi under the recommended pressure. Keeping a log of your fuel consumption is a good way to tell if something is wrong with the air pressure in your tires before they are damaged beyond repairs.
How to Check Tire Pressure With A Tire Gauge
1. First, get yourself a good tire pressure gauge. It doesn't make any difference if it’s a digital or an analog model, just get a good one. Accuracy is key here.
2. Remove all four valve caps and put them somewhere you won't lose them. Valve caps help to prevent rust buildup and premature wear of the valves' seals.
3. Place the nozzle of the gauge perpendicular to the valve and press firmly for 1 or 2 sec. You shouldn't hear a loud deflating noise but more like a slight hiss. The gauge can only read the air pressure coming through the nozzle while you press. Ensuring a tight seal between the gauge and the valve is essential to get an accurate reading.
4. Inspect the reading on your gauge and compare it to the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. On most cars, you can find the correct psi on a yellow rectangle sticker located inside the driver's door jamb.
5. If the pressure in your tires is higher than the recommended pressure, slightly press the nozzle onto the valve until you can hear air coming out of the tire. Let the air flow for 2-3 sec and re-check your tire pressure.
6. If the pressure in your tires is lower than the recommended pressure, you'll need to find an air compressor first. Most gas stations have an air compressor you can use but you can also get yourself one of those small portable tire inflators you can keep in the trunk.
7. Once the air pressure is back to normal, reinstall the four valve caps and you're done! Some newer TPMS-equipped vehicle, a reset of the Tire Pressure Monitoring System may be required. The correct TPMS procedure is usually described in your vehicle's user manual.
In the end, the Rhino USA is the best tire pressure gauge of all because of its sturdiness and affordability. The glow-in-the-dark display and the swivel braided hose makes it a more versatile tool than any other on the list. It basically has all the pros of its competitors without the cons. A bigger display, a lock/release valve, no dead batteries to replace when you most need it. And to top it all off, the "satisfaction guaranteed or your money back" warranty should satisfy even the most dubious customer. Get yourself one today and stay safe from unwanted hazards on the road for years to come.