Getting Air Into Tires In Extreme Cold


At my southern winter location I can depend on Wawa stations for Free Air.

At my northern location I can depend on Holiday stations.

I have several of these Free Air stations at my northern and southern residences.

Some people (and some are customers) are just jerks! I understand that there are problems with keeping hoses and air chucks and compressors in working order and that it is an expense, but these stations accept that.

Although there have been temporary “out of order” signs over the years, they still offer the SERVICE to their customers. I appreciate it and salute them for it.


Running the engine just to power a compressor expends probably a hundred times the energy necessary to pump the tire.


Aw, fer cryin’ out loud…do this once in 10 years (or once a year, even) NOT worth worrying about…but RT loves to worry…


And justify his screen name.


Just like most things, a few bad apples spoils the barrel for everyone else. I was more than happy to provide air and water to my customers, but when the large grocery store at the other end of the block opened a fuel station (with coin-op air and water!) I lost quite a bit of gas business to them, and I saw people fill their tanks next door but come to my place to fill their tires. I asked one or two about it, and the reply was that the gas there was cheaper but my air was still free. Completely oblivious.

Now since I was also a full service garage, we had air available at the service bays. Any one of our regular customers was welcome to ask for air and we would check and inflate their tires for them. Well, most of them…

One guy with 20 year old F150 was at the free air hose 2-3 times a week. Seems he had a tire with a slow leak. It was an aluminum wheel with corrosion around the bead. When I switched to coin-op air, he figured he could just pull up to the shop twice a week and ask for air. One day as my guy was getting him an air hose he remarked that he had a compressor in his garage but he didn’t want to run it just to fill his tire. My guy muttered under his breath “Are you f*cking serious you @sshole?” Apparently it wasn’t under his breath enough because we never saw him again.


Running the engine requires a flick of the wrist or a push of a button, and then extending my arm to attach a hose to the valve stem. I imagine I would expend a hundred times that energy to pump a flat tire by hand or by foot, and spend significantly more time doing so.

Machinery of all kinds were developed to make our lives easier, safer, and more productive.


A local tire store near me installed a free air compressor you can use after hours. You can set the desired psi on a digital display and it stops pumping once the tire reaches that psi. It’s real nice :+1:. I keep waiting for some jack wagon to tear it up, though.

They ought to stick a bike pump out there after the compressor gets torn up. Make those SOB’s work for that free air :muscle:t5:


Heh heh. A friend of the family had a tire shop for a while and when I was down there once he was wrestling a spare tire back underneath a pick-up truck. Dirty job and he had reasonably good business casual clothes on. Finally gets it done, brushing the dirt and mud off his clothes and explains that that was the last time that chiseler was getting anything for nothing. Guy didn’t want to put his own tire back so drives in looking for someone to do it for him free.


Sounds like the perfect reason for a flat rate hourly labor fee. Minimum labor charge 1 hr. Haha.


Run the engine while pumping, my mini-compressor runs off the “cigarette lighter” socket, remember those? And do spend $10 on a digital pressure meter (mine was “Slime” brand, really), accurate to .5 lb. Keep meter warm in your pocket as it runs on a button battery, for years, but being the cheapskate I figured out how to replace the battery and get another 3 years out of it for only $1.37 for battery online, includes postage from China! Don’t know how that is possible. And fresher than a dusty blister-pack one in a Radio Shack for $5.

Maine…“only” -10 F. on a bad day…


With only a candle to ward off the bears…in Brooklyn, NY!

Those were the daze…


By the time I wait the fly will have moved on. It would be like watching Tim Conway’s Old Man character on the Carol Burnett show.


And a gallon of gas and wear on the engine, especially if you start it for this purpose only.

The same in both cases.

You’d be wrong.

But can be used otherwise. More people suffer from too-little effort.


HAHAHAHAHA…wait, you’re serious?


If somebody’s vehicle uses a gallon of gas during 8-10 minutes of idling, then he/she either has some really serious mechanical problems or is driving a world-class gas hog. Most vehicles would likely use–at most–a pint of gas.


Modern fuel injected engines can run so lean these days if there is no load. I would expect very minimal gas usage during the few minutes required to air up a tire. I recall a story where some guy was idling in his car staying warm waiting for his carpool to work. I guess it was running late so in his haste to get in, he left his car sitting in some parking lot idling and unlocked. When he got back the car was still sitting there running, 10 hours later. He was amazed that the gas gauge hadn’t budged to his eyes. Yes, it burned gas but obviously not a lot. That is like me changing my oil and saying that there was no oil usage between changes. Of course all engines burn SOME oil but you cannot tell by looking at the stick.

I agree with minimum labor charges no matter what service you provide. My headache customers went down by one hundred fold once I initiated those policies. I get calls from people wanting crap fixed for free all the time. These are small little jobs. The problem is that getting to these small jobs takes away from my bigger jobs where I make the bulk of my money. I have to charge accordingly. Yes, I will do the small jobs but there is a minimum price I charge. I still get people who appreciate those services but this has overall directed me to larger and larger paying customers that rarely cause me headaches.


Mr. Watkin , I hope you are near retirement age because as unhappy as you seem with your current source of income your health might really suffer.


Have we not come to the end of this ridiculous discussion yet about foot pumps and bicycle tires? Wow, unbelievable. I fear for this site. Gotta go waste some fuel and cut some trees. My three air compressors are at rest right now but ready for action at the flip of a switch. If it gets ten below out and you can’t find any free air around, feel free to stop by and you can use one of mine. No charge.


The gasoline used and the wear on the engine are irrelevant. The machine is here to serve me, not the other way around. Whether it be a car, washing machine, air conditioner, or chain saw, the device is here to be used and worn out at my pleasure.

Your point is not lost on me, but saving the machinery for its own sake isn’t a goal for me. Walking to the store for exercise makes great sense. Walking to the store to save gas and wear on the car, doesn’t.


It’s an expense. I think that most people disregard the expense. Not everyone has a moneytree.

I enjoy using my hand pump.