inflaiting tires on a car 2-ft

Putting Air In Your Tires At A Gas Station: The Complete Guide

Picture this. You’re happily driving along a highway before your car starts wobbling, and as the vibrations get stronger, you wonder, what gives?

You pull into the next exit and check your tires of course, and lo and behold! One of your tires is looking a little miserable. You don’t have a flat, but it is clearly deflating.

Checking the PSI of your tires regularly should be part and parcel of your car’s regular maintenance, right up there with the oil levels. You can easily get a car tire pressure gauge from any auto shop, and sometimes they are even given out for free!

Fret not. If you happen to check your tires and realize that you are under the manufacturers’ recommended guidelines, head to your nearest gas station, and they’ll have a compressor that you can use, probably for a dollar or two. It is easier than you think.

If you have never inflated your car tires, here’s what to do.

How To Put Air In Tires At A Gas Station

Step 1

To begin, position your car near the air pump in such a way that the hose can reach all four tires.

Step 2

Find the right tire PSI for your car once you’ve parked in a decent spot. Look at the car manual, or a label containing this information that’s stuck to the driver’s door. If you don’t see a tire pressure label here, look inside the fuel door.

tire pressure values_1
Tire pressure values from the owner’s manual.

Step 3

removed cap on tire valve

Then remove each valve cap and don’t lose them! Put them in your pocket or something. There are countless poor tires around without valve caps, but you’ll have to deal with dirt, grime, and potential blockages.

Step 4

inflaiting tires on a car 2

Connect each one of the valve stems to the air pump. Firmly secure the tube to the valve stem so that air cannot escape. A hissing sound, which indicates air is escaping from the tire, should not be heard while doing this. Start filling it with air.

Most of the compressors found at gas stations will have pressure gauges, or else, use any portal pencil gauge.

Step 5

Return the hose to the machine and replace the valve stem caps on your tires once you’ve filled all four tires to the proper pressure. Don’t forget to pay, if you have to! Some gas stations charge, but some are free.

Now you are all done and ready to go back down the road!

Watch this video to learn how to check and fill your car tires.

What Happens When You Have Tires With Low Pressure?

low tire pressure warning
Low tire pressure warning.

When it comes to your vehicle, there are a lot of things that you need to take care of to keep it running smoothly. One of the most important aspects of car maintenance is making sure that your tires are properly inflated.

If your tire pressure is low, it can cause a variety of problems. For one, it can lead to decreased fuel efficiency. Additionally, low tire pressure can cause uneven wear on your tires, which can shorten their lifespan.

Worst of all, if your tire pressure is too low, it can make your car less stable and more prone to accidents.

How Much Air Should I Put In My Tires : Over-inflating vs Under-inflating

You might think, well, why not just over-inflate, and be done with it?

When you drive on overinflated tires, you risk a range of problems. Over-inflated tires are more likely to blow out. A blown tire can cause you to lose control of your car, putting you and others on the road at risk.

In addition, several of your vehicle’s safety systems, such as your anti-lock brake system, are designed to operate when tires are filled to the manufacturer’s specifications. Some of your car’s driver assistance systems may be jeopardized if your tires are over-inflated.

Under-inflated tires lengthen braking distances greatly and have a significant impact on steering and handling. In addition, when tire pressure is low, more of the tread face of the tire contacts the road, causing friction.

In severe circumstances, this friction can produce overheating, which can result in tread separation and blowouts. It could also cause the shortening of the life of your tires by 15% or more because the edges of your tires make increased contact with the road when they are under-inflated.

How Do Tires Affect My Wallet?

Improper tire pressure can cause quick or uneven wear, resulting in considerable internal tire damage, as well as unexpected tire failure and catastrophic injury.

To get the best out of your gas mileage, proper tire pressure should be adhered to according to the manufacturers’ instructions.

Related: How Long Should Your Tires Last & How To Make Them Last Longer?

Under-inflated tires force your engine to work harder, reducing fuel efficiency, and increasing the surface area with the road, resulting in higher resistance and greater wear and tear.

worn out tire

As a result, the gas economy suffers and gasoline costs rise – up to 1.3 cents per liter. Depending on how frequently you fill up, this may add up to hundreds of dollars in a single year.

How Often To Check Tire Pressure?

Tire pressure should be checked monthly, or as often as you can, especially if you are hitting the road on a long drive. Your tires will continue to lose pressure even if there are no leaks. Oftentimes, tires lose an average 1 pound per square inch (PSI) of tire pressure every month.

Related: How to Use an Air Compressor to Inflate Your Tires at Home

Because your car is unlikely to warn you until your tire pressure is quite low, it’s critical to check your tires manually. Checking your tire pressure regularly will help extend the life of your tires and alert you to small concerns before they become major headaches.

How Does Temperature Affect Tire Pressure?

When it’s hot outside, the air in your tires expands and takes up more volume, while when it’s freezing outside, the air takes up less space. As a result, when the temperature drops, your car’s computer thinks your tires are deflated.

For every 10 degrees Fahrenheit that the temperature decreases, the inflation pressure in tires drops by 1 to 2 pounds per square inch (PSI).

In addition, while you drive your car and the tires heat up, the pressure in the tires will increase by one psi every five minutes for the first 15 to 20 minutes. The temperature difference can range from 3-5 pounds per square inch (PSI).

Do not wait until the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) light illuminates before checking the tire pressure, since a regular TPMS may:

  • Function and turn on after the tire pressure is already well underinflated
  • Neglect to detect gradual air pressure loss
  • Neglect to detect over-inflated air pressure tires
  • Cannot directly tell which tire is under-inflated or over-inflated
  • Cannot provide a signal to the dashboard resulting in the Tire Pressure Monitoring System not turning on

Tire manufacturers offer a suggested PSI that specifies the ideal pressure level for your vehicle’s tires. That PSI value is for when your tires are cool.

When adding air to your tires in the winter, it’s best to do it when the tires are still cool.

Measure the tire pressure in each tire before leaving the house and make a note of it. Measure the tires again when you get to the gas station, then add the amount of pressure you need based on the initial measurement.

If you drive with your tires under-inflated, you will lose some steering control, increase friction, cause additional tire wear, and reduce your car’s gas mileage efficiency.

Similarly, as the season and weather change from hot to cold, you’ll be able to make a variety of modifications to your vehicle. One thing to keep in mind is that your tires may require air inflation again. This is due to the fact that when the temperature drops, so does the air pressure in the tires.

In addition, tire pressure can even change throughout the day! What is hot during the day can be sub-zero at night, depending on your geographical location.


So there you have it. It’s pretty easy. Check your tires from time to time, make sure that the pressure falls within the recommended manufacturer’s guidelines, and fill it with air if it falls below.

Avoid over-inflating your tires, as this can lead to numerous problems and safety concerns!

Stay safe out there and happy driving!

Henrik Soke

Henrik has over 20 years of experience in various IT fields. Durability Matters is his passion project born out of his love for minimalism and high-quality products that last. He's an avid hiker, mountain biker, and outdoor enthusiast.

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