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Finding The Best


Keeping your car's tires properly inflated is vital to your safety. Fortunately, it's one of the simplest regular maintenance checks we can do ourselves. Nearly all tires lose pressure gradually over time, even if the car hasn't been driven or the tire isn't mounted on the car. Also, as the weather gets colder, tire pressure drops at an even faster rate. When underinflated, tires wear faster and unevenly, waste fuel and negatively impact your vehicle's braking and handling. They also build up excess heat as you drive, which can result in tire blowouts.

To keep your tires in top condition, use a tire pressure gauge to check their pressure at least once a month and before any long trip. For an accurate read, make sure your car has been parked for three or more hours before checking.

How to Choose the Right Gauge for You

There are three types of tire pressure gauges—pencil, digital and dial.


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Pencil gauges somewhat resemble a ballpoint pen. They are simple, compact and affordable, but they are a little harder to interpret than most digital gauges and can be less accurate.


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Digital gauges have an electronic LCD display, making them easy to read. They're also more resistant to damage from dust and dirt. Some digital readouts light up, making them handy for checking pressure in low-light conditions. If you need to check pressure in a darkened area, consider a digital gauge with an illuminated display.


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Dial guages have an analog dial resembling a clock face, with a simple needle to indicate the pressure. Some dial guages are pocket-sized, but larger ones have more features such as an extension hose, bleeder valve, dual-scale dial and shock-resistant dial cover. Most dial gauges are easy to read, but models with an extension hose take two hands to operate. They can also be bulky and typically cost more money than the stick and digital gauges.

While it's convenient to keep a pressure gauge in the glove box, very hot or cold temperatures can impact performance. Gauges can also lose their accuracy when they're bouncing around in your glove department or tool box. To maintain its accurate reading, keep your tire pressure gauge in a foam-lined case and at room temperature. If your gauge is old, worn, dirty or it has been dropped, it may not be reliable and you should get a new one.

When checking and adding air to your tires, be sure to go by the manufacturer's recommended pressure setting, which is located on a placard in the driver-side doorjamb or in your owner's manual. To learn more about your tires, visit our TreadSmart Tire Center.