Whether you’re going down the road or cross-country, the last thing you want to be faced with is a flat tire. Unless you are traveling with your own pit crew who can leap to your aid and make certain the tire pressure is where it belongs and can fix your flat or replace your tire, it’s wise to add a tire gauge to your list of electric vehicle essentials.
Here are the top three reasons to have a tire pressure gauge close at hand, the best ones from which to choose and tips on how to use one.
- Know the proper air pressure inflation levels for your particular EV’s tires. If the tires are over- or underinflated they are more prone to a blowout or to tire deformity — both of which could result in a fatal accident. Tires that are improperly inflated make your electric vehicle harder to handle, steer and stop and all of these increase your risk of an accident.
- You’ve already made a commitment to yourself to save money when you invested in your EV. Keeping your tires properly inflated can add to your money-saving options. If your tires are underinflated this means the tire will have a larger contact with the rubber and the road. This adds to increased friction and uses more fuel (perhaps not an issue with an EV, but if you’re driving a fuel-powered vehicle it’s something to consider). A properly inflated tire will also increase the useful life of the tire itself.
- Don’t always rely on your vehicle’s sensors to let you know the tire pressure is incorrect. Sometimes these sensors will be triggered if there is a dramatic change in outside air temperature. Other times, the tires could be underinflated and the sensor isn’t picking up on it; the same goes for overinflated tires.
Read the owner’s manual, do a Google search for a trusted site or ask your auto mechanic what the proper air pressure levels should be. As a rule of thumb, check your tire pressure at least two times a month. The vehicle door jamb is also a location to find the correct PSI (pounds per square inch) of air pressure.
How to use a tire pressure gauge
It’s important to ensure the tire air pressure is proper, but you also need to know how to properly use the tire pressure gauge to ensure the readings are correct.
A tire pressure gauge is a relatively simple tool to use. Follow these tips:
- Test the air pressure on a tire that is cold. You don’t have to have your vehicle in a cold place, it just means you’re not driving the vehicle before you test the air pressure. Park the car and let it sit for around four hours before your test.
- Decide which tire to check first.
- Remove the valve cap
- Press the gauge into the valve stem and push until you hear a distinct “hiss”
- Look at the reading on the gauge and compare it with the PSI recommendations
- Repeat the process on all the other tires
What to look for in a tire pressure gauge
The technology across the various types of gauges doesn’t vary too wildly, but there are some that are more user-friendly, easier to read and/or more accurate.
Types: Dial, digital, or stick
- Dial pressure gauges use a dial from which you read the pressure. The dial resembles a clock face and a needle displays the pressure. There are some dial tire pressure gauges that have quite a few bells and whistles — or at least dual-scale dials, are shock resistant and may include bleeder valves. The more features, the higher the price — something to think about.
- The digital tire pressure gauge is easy to hold and pops a reading up on the digital display and may be easier to read. The digital style requires batteries, but that may be a small inconvenience if you’re trying to read the PSI in the dark. Just remember to check and change the batteries regularly.
- The stick tire pressure gauge is probably your “father’s tire pressure gauge.” It is a small, pen-sized tool that you hook up to the tire valve. Once it’s properly seated the small strip pops out from the handle. Where the strop stops and the number that displays is your tire pressure. They are simple and affordable and have stood the test of time.
Our 5 favorite tire air pressure gauges
If you’re looking for your take-along vehicle tool to be more than a one-trick pony, look for this dual tire air pressure gauge that has an emergency escape tool that includes a window hammer and seat belt cutter. This device comes in a two-pack — one for you, one for a friend!
The Amazon Basics Tire Pressure 2 in 1 gauge has more than 1,050 reviews and ranks 4.5 stars out of 5 and you can choose from a two-pack of black or a two-pack of red devices. This two-pack will set you back less than $20.
It does require a Triple-A battery for each unit that is not included.
This JACO Elite Tire pressure gauge is shop-grade and mechanic recommended and is pretty nifty looking! It has a high-resolution display and requires two Triple-A batteries, which are included. The current price of this more high-tech device is around $25.
This device ranked 4.7 stars out of 5 stars from more than 500 reviews.
If a dial air tire pressure gauge is your style — because you don’t want to worry about battery replacement, check out this Vondior glow-in-the-dark model is ideal. This device was lauded by more than 5,300 reviewers and garnered 4.6 out of 5 stars. It currently costs less than $15.
If you have a trailer or RV, you might need something that can handle more than standard street car PSI. If that’s the case, the AstroAI Digital Tire Pressure Gauge supports up to 230 PSI measurements.
It even has a built-in flashlight so it’s easier to take measurements at night. It also has 4.6 stars out of 5 from over 5,600 reviewers.
To wrap it up and to go old school, for less than $10 you can buy a two-pack of this Valve-LoC pencil/stick style. The stick tire air pressure gauge is constructed of sturdy metal and includes four black stem caps (for those times when you drop that stem cap and just can’t find it!)
No matter what your favorite style, choose one, stick it in the glove box and be ready for the next road trip you take in your electric vehicle!