It really is vital to ensure that your car tires are inflated to the recommended air pressure from the manufacturer. When they are correctly inflated, they will respond better to steering movements, making the car easier and safer to handle.
It should also be remembered that correctly inflated tires will make a positive impact on the vehicle's fuel economy.
For those reasons, a tire pressure gauge can make for a great investment. But, we are human after all, and sometimes, we forget to pack our gauges when we are out and about. In those circumstances, we can wonder how to put air in car tires without a gauge.
There are quite a few ways that we can add air without having to rely on a gauge because, technically, at least, a gauge is not used to adding air. A gauge is a device primarily used to measure pressure, before and during the tires are inflated.
As we mentioned above though, there are recommended ranges that a tire should be inflated to if you want it to perform at its best. So, a gauge is very useful to inflate and hit those recommended ranges.
With that said, if you don’t have your gauge, and you need to inflate a tire, here are the options:
Most gas stations will have an air compressor-style tire inflator device installed somewhere outside. Almost all the inflation devices will have some way to measure tire pressure.
They will often measure as soon as you connect, so you know the current pressure, and the best ones will give updated readings even as they fill the tire. This allows you to fill the tire accurately within the manufacturers recommended range.
Old-style gas stations will often be equipped with old-style machines. They will have a small dial mounted on the air hose with which you are supposed to monitor air pressure. More modern machines will display PSI as a simple number on a digital display, usually mounted on the machine itself.
We’d recommend that you use the more modern, digital style of air compressor if possible, as they are frankly easier to use and read. By being able to read them easier, you can also inflate your tires to the recommended ranges easier.
These days, it seems as if there is nothing our Smart Phones can’t do and helping us to inflate our car tires is now something they can do. No, you don’t hook the phone up to the tire so that it can inflate it with compressed air!
Instead, there are particular apps that can be downloaded to your phone to allow you to inflate the tire to a limited degree of accuracy. After downloading and installing the app, take a picture of the tire using your phone's camera. The app will then cross-reference the current shape of the tire with its database of images of that brand of tire in various states of inflation.
It will try to get you to inflate the tire until it best resembles the image it has of the particular tire brand and model within the correct range.
The last option is to fill the tire without any aids and to rely on your own judgment. So, for example, you could try to fill the tire by eye. This is actually somewhat similar to the method above in that you will hook the tire up to a compressor or air pump of some kind and watch as it inflates.
The golden zone will see the air switched off when the bottom of the tire is no longer flat to the road surface, while the sidewalls are not bulging.
Other people prefer a more hands-on approach by pushing the tire in its deflated state. They will then continue pushing at intervals while filling with air. Again, the aim is to stop when the tire feels inflated enough to drive safely but before it is dangerously overinflated.
Going back to the question we started with, which is "How to put air into tires without a gauge?", there are different methods that you can use, but it is always safer to go to the gas station if you can. Also, by using the other remaining methods suggested, you will struggle to get the accuracy that a gauge provides and which tires demand. Hence, they are best utilized during emergency situations or when you need to inflate the tire to a level that is temporarily safe for you to drive to a nearby gas station.
Since pressure gauges are so small and easy to store, we would suggest you simply keep a model in the glove box so that you are never left in the situation of trying to inflate your tires without a gauge.