Tire-Gauge Technology Has Come a Long Way

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 06, 2018

Dear Car Talk:

In my 50 years of car ownership, I have accumulated a large number of tire pressure gauges. I've got a bunch of plastic, pencil-type gauges. I've got some cheap, round ones. I've got a metal one with a plastic thing that pops out the end when I test the pressure.

The problem is they all read differently on the same tire. So what's the best gauge to use? What'll give me an accurate reading? -- Frank

Well, as with many things, tire-gauge technology has improved over the years. You used to need a very good-quality, round metal or brass mechanical gauge to get an accurate reading. And those were expensive. And I've got about 15 of them.

But nowadays, you can get a good "pistol grip" digital tire pressure gauge for about $10. If you're willing to pay a little more, you can even get one with a display that's backlit. That way, if you get the urge to get up in the middle of the night and sneak out to check your tire pressure, you'll be able to read the result in the dark. That beats the old-fashioned way of checking your tire pressure in a dark garage -- holding a flashlight between your teeth -- until either the flashlight fell out and broke, or your front teeth did.

You can also get one with a short hose attachment to make it easier to read, and easier to attach to your tire valve stem. I'm partial to those. You can find lots of them online, at your favorite market-dominating monopolistic online retailer. I bought a couple made by Accutire that work well. But I'd check the user ratings, and get one that's got an overwhelming number of five-star reviews.

Happy testing, Frank.

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