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How to check tyre pressure

Written By Andrew Brady

How to check tyre pressure
  • Driving a car with underinflated tyres can be extremely dangerous
  • Our straightforward guide to correctly checking your tyre pressures 
  • Properly inflated tyres mean better MPG

It can become all too easy to neglect our tyres but the fact remains: maintaining their condition is still vital to ensure our safety behind the wheel.

In this guide we will be looking at tyre pressure, how to measure it and how to inflate your tyres too. Air pressure is particularly important as it can seriously affect how a car handles, how it brakes, how economical it is and the overall longevity of the tyre itself.

For more information on tyre tread law, the different types of tyre and how they're labelled please check out our comprehensive guide on when you should replace your car's tyres

How to check tyre pressure manually

Firstly, inspecting your tyres for pressure, bulges and any other damage every couple of weeks is a good habit to get into so you can spot any issues before they become too serious.

To check the air pressure you need to know the recommended tyre pressure values for your specific vehicle - this can usually be found in the car's handbook or on a sticker in the driver’s door frame or the fuel cap.

Pressure can be measured in units of bar (the metric measurement) or pounds per inch (the imperial measurement) so don't be confused if you see two figures in your handbook.

Tyre pressure gauges are now very affordable and can be easily found online or via high street retailers. They're simple to use too. You should check the pressure of your tyres when they're cold for the most accurate results. 

After unscrewing the valve cap off the tyre, simply place the nozzle of the gauge over the valve stem to produce a tight seal - some gauges use a lever to lock it in place - and within seconds an accurate measurement is displayed.

Repeat this process for each tyre and remember to replace the valve caps before you drive off.

If you don't have a gauge at home, they can still be found at most petrol stations up and down the country and tend to work in a similar way, for only a small charge. At some stations, the air compressors will actually ask you to insert the recommended pressure level and then, after taking the measurement, add more air to the tyre if it needs it.

How to check tyre pressure

How to manually inflate car tyres

If, after reading the tyre pressure measurement on your personal pressure gauge, you notice you have one or two tyres below the recommended level found in your handbook, the next step is to inflate them.

To bring your tyres back up to speed, you can either go to a garage or petrol station, but small air compressor machines are becoming more affordable to purchase all the time and work just like those found at garages, so you can inflate your tyres from the comfort of your own home. They're also a handy item to keep in your boot for times of need.

Alternatively, bicycle foot pumps still do the job too but, depending on how much air you need to put in, this can take much longer and can be a lot of hard work.