The Best Tire Pressure Gauges

Table of Contents

Tires that are under inflated cost more in fuel, tire wear, and can even increase the chance of suspension damage in normal driving conditions — especially on winter-ravaged roads. A tire with pressures that are too low can even increase the chance of a blowout. Underinflated tires provide less grip for braking and cornering, which makes them less safe, and can lead to accidents. Overinflated tires are just as bad, but most drivers have tires set too low more often than too high.

While many vehicles have tire pressure-monitoring systems (TPMS) in them to warn of low pressures, checking your tires regularly is still important. Here is our list of convenient, reliable, and easy-to-use tire pressure gauges.

Tire pressure gauges come in three main forms: pencil, digital, and dial. Pencil gauges are cheap, compact, and simple. They show pressure with lines on a plastic stick that telescopes out from the stem of the “pencil” when you press the nozzle on to your valve stem. They can be hard to read and lack accuracy. They’re also fragile. The plus side is they are convenient to keep on hand, and they only require one hand to use. They’re a good tool for regular check-ups, but you should know that pencil gauges usually bleed more air than other types when you’re using them.

Digital gauges are handy and easy to read. They usually include back-lit displays, which makes it easy to read at night or in bad weather. The displays themselves are better insulated from dust and dirt than mechanical gauges, and they’re generally more shock resistant. Even better, digital gauges are easy to operate one-handed. The downside is that digital gauges require batteries, and if you forget to replace them, you will end up caught short.

Dial gauges are most often relied on by racers or professional mechanics. Not only do they look cool hanging in the garage, but dial gauges are simple to read, robust, and usually come with features that aren’t found on the other two, including a bleed-off valve or an extension hose. There was a time when dial gauges were consistently more accurate than digital gauges, but that’s no longer the norm.

Below, we highlight the best gauges, no matter which type you prefer.

1. Editor’s Pick: Joe’s Racing 32327

ProsCons
  • Affordable
  • Convenient
  • Low pressure span
  • Pencil gauges lack accuracy

Key Specs

Type: Dial
Measurements: Psi
Range (in psi): 0-60, 1-pound increments
Accuracy: ANSI B40.1 (±2% middle range)

See Price

The Joe’s Racing 2 ½-inch diameter 0-60 psi gauge is an ultra-high quality, full-featured dial gauge that boasts pinpoint accuracy and impressive durability perfect for heavy-duty use.

This is a high-end gauge that comes with two chucks, one swivel and one angled, as well as a 17” (43 cm) rubber hose. The white dial face is glow in the dark for night-time use and reads in 1-lb increments.

It’s ANSI B40.1 accurate, which means in the middle half of the range (20-40 psi) it reads with a ±2% accuracy. At 32 psi, this gauge is correct to within 0.64 psi. There’s a pressure release valve for carefully lowering pressures after inflation, and the steel housing with rubber cushion is designed for heavy-duty use. Long story short: You could put this in your general-use tool box and it will still read accurately time after time.

Upgrades to this model in 2018 included strengthening the internal spike suppressor, which helps mitigate wear and tear on the sensitive internal organs of a pressure gauge. Like all things racing, you have to pay to play, and at this price there are similar dial gauges that you can replace two or three times over. Our bet is that with this unit, you won’t have to replace it.

2. Best Pencil Gauge: Gorilla Automotive TG1

ProsCons
  • Affordable
  • Convenient
  • Low pressure span
  • Pencil gauges lack accuracy

Key Specs

Type: Pencil
Measurements: Psi, KG
Range (in psi): 0-50, 1-pound increments
Accuracy: N/A

See Price

Gorilla Automotive’s TG1 pencil style pressure gauge is impressive for its cost-quality ratio and easy reading stick dial.

It's a simple, well-built single-head gauge with a nice tight chuck for sealing around the valve stem. That’s important because pencil gauges are notorious for loose fitment, which creates excessive air loss when you’re doing pressure checks.

It has a stainless-steel body, and a pocket clip so you can keep it handy on your person. This gauge has a low span of just 0-50 psi, but the benefit of that is the stick dial is easier to read and better spaced. We the psi side was numbered in red, not the KG side though, because psi is far more commonly used as a measurement unit and the red is easier to read.

The only other thing I wish this gauge had was a pressure release valve, but at this price point the more features you add, the less quality and longevity.

3. Best Bells and Whistles: Measurement Limited Accutire MS-4520B

ProsCons
  • Affordable
  • Convenient
  • Low pressure span
  • Pencil gauges lack accuracy

Key Specs

Type: Digital
Measurements: Psi, KG, bar
Range (in psi): 0-150, 0.1-pound increments
Accuracy: 1%

See Price

There are some who believe you should only use specialised tools for specialised jobs. For everyone else, there’s the Measurement Limited Accutire MS-4520B multi-tool and tire gauge.

Talk about bringing a knife to pressure gauge fight — the MS-4520B features a seat-belt cutter, flashlight, escape hammer, and even operates as a stand-up flashing LED flare with fold-out legs.

It will read from 5 -150 psi in 0.1 psi increments, with a claimed accuracy of one per cent across the full range — or 0.3 at 32 psi. The downside? This is a bulky unit, and the chuck head is flimsier than we’d like, so you have to be careful operating it. But, when you get this many features for less than half the price of the heavy-duty Joe’s Racing unit above, it’s hard to walk away from the Measurement Limited Accutire MS-4520B. Note, it also runs on three AA batteries which are not included. Those will run out quickly if your kids play with it — which they will.

Our suggestion? Keep this one in your console for emergency use, and the Joe’s Racing unit in your garage for regular maintenance checks.

4. Best Value Dial Gauge: CK Auto Tire Pressure Gauge 100 PSI

ProsCons
  • Full featured
  • Crazy low price
  • Needs two hands to operate
  • What is the braided nylon hiding?

Key Specs

Type: Dial
Measurements: psi
Range (in psi): 0-100, 1-pound increments
Accuracy: ANSI B40.1 (±2% middle range)

See Price

If you want a decent dial-type gauge for an ultra-low price, look no further than CK Auto’s 100 psi tire pressure gauge.

Keen observers will notice the close visual similarity between the CK Auto unit and more expensive models from high-end brand Jaco. Both feature a 45-degree head on a 360-degree swivel, both feature an integrated bleed button, and both have the same two-inch diameter glow-in-the-dark mechanical dial with identical gear-styled shock-resistant coating. If you looked at them side by side on the table, the only difference is that the Jaco unit has a heavy-duty flexible rubber hose, and the CK Auto gauge’s hose is thinner and coated in braided nylon.

So how is it that the CK Auto rig is less than a third the price of the Jaco? Especially when both gauges carry the ANSI B40.1 certification?

We’re not sure, but we’re leaning hard towards the better-priced unit here. Tipping our decision over the edge? The free microfibre carrying case and metallic valve dust caps that come free with the CK Auto gauge.

5. Best Digital Gauge: Tekton 5941

ProsCons
  • Easy to use
  • Good value
  • Questions surround accuracy

Key Specs

Type: Digital
Measurements: psi, kPa, bar, kg/cm2
Range (in psi): 0-100, 0.5-pound increments
Accuracy: N/A

See Price

The Tekton digital gauge is the easiest tire pressure gauge to use in this list courtesy of its one-touch operation, illuminated head and backlit digital screen.

It also comes with a CR2032 lithium-ion battery and three 1.5V LR44 button cells, which it preserves by way of a 30-second automatic cut off switch. This gauge reads in four units: psi 0-100, bar (0-7), kPa (0-700) and kg/cm2 (0-7) and displays down to 0.5 psi. A note on bar and kg/cm2 — those two units are effectively the same, so technically this only reads in three units.

The rubber padding and overall build quality seem solid, and users report consistent accuracy even after low-height drops. Tekton doesn’t list an accuracy standard for the unit, so you might want to take two or three measurements of the same tire to make sure your reading is spot on.

6. Cheapest Ever Digital Tire Pressure Gauge: Luhan New LCD Digital

ProsCons
  • Easy to use
  • Cheap
  • Very cheap

Key Specs

Type: Digital
Measurements: psi, kPa, bar, kg/cm2
Range (in psi): 0-100, 0.5-pound increments
Accuracy: N/A

See Price

The Luhan New LCD digital is the cheapest available digital tire pressure gauge for your car and costs less than the batteries in some of the other options in this list alone. For the money, you get an LCD screen capable of providing measurements in kg/cm2/bar, psi, or kPa with a range of 0-100 psi. The display reads down to one decimal point, but at this price we’d be way of the numbers in that spot.

This is a great option for the user on a budget; perhaps as a final safety check before heading out on a short drive in a rarely-used vehicle, or to confirm that one tire is reading lower than the others after you feel something wrong in your vehicle’s steering. We’ve included it here because it’s important to know the range of prices you can pay, and why so many gauges seem to be priced so low for what they are. This is how little a pressure gauge can be made for — not how little it should be made for.

What Pressure Should I Set My Tires To?

Most passenger cars specify 30-33 psi. You’ll find your vehicle’s recommended pressure on a sticker that is usually placed on the door sill of your driver’s door, just under the lock jam. You’ll also find it in the owner’s manual, on the side wall of your glove compartment, or even on the inside of the fuel door.

Motorcyclists will find their recommended pressures in the owner’s manual, or on a placard located on the swingarm, usually on the opposite side of the bike to the chain (so that chain oil doesn’t erode it or obscure it). Motorcycles are more sensitive to tire pressure changes, especially if you take them off-road or on track days, so you should cross-check your vehicle recommendation with the tire manufacturers spec.

Do Tire Pressures Really Affect Fuel Economy?

In a word, yes. Though the effect is far less than other factors, such as a regular vehicle tune-up (which can have up to a four per cent impact) or driving in a way that predicts traffic and maintains momentum (which can have as much as a 25 per cent impact on economy).

Way back in 2008 while campaigning against John McCain, Barack Obama claimed that drivers in the USA could save over 1 billion gallons of oil merely by adjusting their tire pressures to the manufacturers’ specifications. Every 1 psi drop in tire pressure can cause a 0.4 per cent drop in fuel economy, according to the US Department of Energy (Energuide in Canada doesn’t have a comparable study).

When you consider most of us are driving around on tires that are as much four and five psi low, that’s as much as two per cent less efficient than we could be. Most of us spend about $100 a week on fuel, or $5,000 a year. So your savings would be about $100 (or 80 litres) over the course of 12 months. That’s not a lot if you’re one person, no, but imagine if millions of us did it?

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