Oil changes, new brake pads, and topping up the screen wash—these are all important pieces of everyday maintenance that we perform on our vans, trucks, and SUVs. Another key task is monitoring the air pressure in our tires, though this is often something that we can forget to do or even ignore completely.
Since our tires play such an essential part in the safe operation of our vehicles, it is a task that we should all get into the habit of completing regularly. One of the questions we hear most often is "What tool measures air pressure in a tire anyway?"
The fact that many people ask that question suggests to us that more people want to check their tire pressures but are unsure of the correct tools to get the job done. Hence, we’ll look at the tools that are available and see which is the best.
Before we look at the tools, perhaps it would be a good idea to look at just why you should be monitoring the air pressure in your tires. There are two main reasons that you should be doing this, one is to improve handling, and the other reason is to increase efficiency.
Since tires provide the physical connection between the ground and your car, it is through them that all your commands as the car driver will be executed. Look at it this way, if you want to slow down or stop, you press down on the brake pedal, right?
The brakes will slow the wheel of the car, but it is the friction between the tire and the ground that actually stops the car. That is why cars skid and leave long trails of burnt rubber if you brake harshly and quickly.
The tires affect fuel efficiency in the same way because they are rolling over the road surface, creating friction. The higher the friction, the less efficient the movement of the car will be.
Tires that are inflated to the correct pressure will move over the ground with the greatest efficiency, making the car itself more efficient. In practical terms, that means less gas is burnt to move the car, and more money stays in your pocket!
Now that you have an understanding of why it is important to monitor car tire pressure, the next thing to look at is what tools are available to help you with this task.
In the area around many gas stations, you will often find an air compressor-style tire inflator. You can, of course, use it to inflate your tires, but you can also use it to measure the current pressure.
These compressors are fairly common devices and provided you can find a modern style of compressor tire inflator, they will probably have an easy-to-read, digital screen that will clearly display the current air pressure. It also has the advantage of killing two birds with one stone as you can both check the current pressure and top up the tires with air if the pressure is too low.
While they are fairly common, they are not precisely present on every street corner, and there may not be one within easy driving distance. You also have to drive to one, which can be inconvenient, especially as so many other parts of car maintenance can be done at the roadside or parked up on your driveway. They are also not free!
A new arrival on the scene, and one of the more high-tech ways to measure your tire pressure by simply downloading and installing the app.
They are cheap, with most apps costing just a couple of bucks. They are also easy to use and can be used at home.
The main problem is that they are simply not very accurate. They are useful in an emergency, say if you are out and about and need to measure your tire pressure as part of a roadside repair of some kind. However, the lack of accuracy means they are not recommended for frequent, everyday use.
The last style of tool is a dedicated device that is designed to measure tire pressure.
This is also pretty cheap, with a price tag of around ten bucks. It is also easy to use and can be used on the car at home. Unlike the apps above, it is also highly accurate and is generally very small, which makes it easy to store inside the car.
As a dedicated tool, you are spending money on a device that really only has one purpose.
The simple answer to what tool measures air pressure in a tire is that there are really three options. If you are searching for the best tool though, then based on the pros and cons we outlined, it’s probably a tire pressure gauge. Yes, you are investing money into a dedicated tool that serves no other purpose, but the investment is relatively small for a tool that is easy to use, highly accurate, and can really help bring all the advantages of properly inflated tires extremely easily.