Tyre pressure is usually measured in kilopascals (kPa) or pounds per square inch (psi). Keep your tyres inflated to the pressure recommended by the car manufacturer. This is often found on a sticker inside the driver’s door frame, in the glove box or on the petrol tank flap.
The manufacturer’s recommendations refer to the pressure when the tyres are cold, not after you’ve been driving for some time. So it’s best to check at the petrol station down the road, not halfway through your journey. When driving with a heavy load such as a trailer, inflate your tyres to a higher pressure – check the sticker for advice.
Proper inflation gives you longer tyre life and better safety. Both over- and under-inflating your tyres will wear them out sooner. Driving with under-inflated tyres also uses more petrol, adversely affects your car’s handling and may even lead to tyre damage, so check the pressure regularly – for example, every time you fill up with fuel. Don’t forget to check your spare tyre too – there’s nothing worse than getting a flat tyre and finding the spare has no air either.
Gauges at petrol stations sometimes aren’t well maintained which may affect their accuracy. So you may want to think about getting your own. We tested 18 models costing from about $5 to $80 for accuracy and ease of use.
For more information on a range of car-related subjects see Cars.
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How we test
Performance Our tester, Peter Horvath, checks the accuracy of the gauges at 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 psi against a calibrated high-precision gauge.
Ease of use Peter assesses how well they fit into the hand, how easy they are to apply to the valve, how easy the pressure is to read in daylight, as well as the gauges’ instructions.
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