Tire gague for a frugal buyer

I bought a cheapie tire gague a few years ago, one of those pencil types, and it’s acting nutty, giving me a super-high PSI followed by a more normal PSI (36 is what’s recommended.) I’m unemployed so I’m watching every nickel & dime. Can my pencil gague be prepared some way? (Probably not.) Can someone recommend a low-price tire gague? There’s way too many on the market for my tastes. (But what do I know?) Thanks.

You should get a dial-type tire pressure gauge, as they tend to be much more accurate than the pencil-type gauges. However, dial-type gauges will be more expensive than the type that you have now.
I recommend that you NOT buy one of the Slime brand (yes, that is really a brand name! :roll_eyes:) because they are not good quality.

I have a dial-type tire pressure gauge that I bought about 40 years ago from Brookstone (back in the days when they just sold tools…), and it is still very accurate. Just be sure that you don’t drop your dial-type gauge because they don’t take well to hard knocks.


There’s a ‘Pittsburgh Automotive’ dial gauge with flex hose at Harbor Freight for $6.50, good reviews. Not top quality, of course, but probably good for your needs.

1 Like

Amazon has many with very high ratings at low cost. Here are a few I own: All 3 give the same reading. The one on the right has a couple of cool features like allowing you to slowly bleed air pressure down to your desired setpoint. I have never paid more than $10 for a gauge. Good luck. If your finances are really dire, ask to use one at your local full service shop. The pressure inflation machines usually have a mechanical one attached to the end of the hose. Not always.

Try lubricating the piece that pops out when you check the pressure.

Use an actual lubricant, not WD-40. Motor oil will work in a pinch.

I’ve had dial gauges wear out too.

I’ve had the needle twisted out of position and even totally loose on dial gauges. But when they are wrong they are usually outrageously wrong. And those that only measure slightly above the pressure you will be measuring are far more accurate. A 0 to 150 psi gauge is not very accurate measuring 36 psi.

I read somewhere that a dial gauge is most accurate in the middle of the scale (half of the maximum pressure). I actually have two different gauges, one for my regular tires and one for my compact spare, for this reason.

1 Like

HomeDepot sells a nice Husky digital pressure “gauge” for $7 in their piles of holiday stuff next to registers.
I bought one 2 years ago and it still serves me well.
It’s out for the same price again this year.

For all the grief Slime gauges get, I’ve been using a cheap digital one from Walmart for 5 years, matched my dial gauge, lights up, easy to read. Fine by me.

I got an air pump with pressure gauge for $20 or so, though finding free air with a pressure gauge would be the cheapest. I have been happy enough with the free gauges.

I’ve got both but use the dial one most often. I never pay much for them and even got them free. I agree though for cars, you need the one that just goes up to 50# or so. I guess I don’t worry if they exactly match what my tps says, as long as I get them all the same.

I have a Slime gauge too. Pencil style in my case. It works well from what I can tell. I’ve had it for years. I wasn’t aware I wasn’t supposed to like it. Seems you learn something new every day.

I have a couple of Accu-Gauge dial dire gauges. They are under $10 and do a good job.

I had an Accutire MS-4021B tire gauge, and it was the best I’ve ever used! I think you can get them for about 10 bucks. I unfortunately lost mine somehow, and I plan to get another one ASAP

My most accurate and consistent tire pressure gauge, my go-to, is from Harbor Freight, pencil type, couple of dollars. My comparison is the gauge at the local gas station, and mine always matches it to within +/- 1 psi.

I was wondering how a person would know if their gauge were actually accurate? Consistent is pretty easy to measure, but you’d need a calibrated source of pressurized air to check for accuracy.

It seems to me that Consumer Reports once tested tire gauges. If my memory is correct, that was years ago. My guess is that today’s subscribers to CR probably don’t check the air pressure in their tires.
I have to admit that at my age, I don’t do it as often as I should. If a tire looks low, I check not only that tire, but the other tires as well. I have a dial gauge. I also have a tread depth gauge and check tread depth about every 10,000 miles.
I also have a Black and Decker “air station”. It has a built in gauge, but it isn’t very accurate.

I had a dial type that was good, until it wasn’t.One day it started to give me bizarre readings.
I have a 20 yr old pencil type that I got for 0.99 cents from AZ while I was broke and I still have it and it works fine. The compressor I got from Harbor Freight also had one with it, pencil type and it seems to be accurate.
The dial type from HB posted above looks interesting, should be work but then if the one Dollar ones work fine, then why bother.

1 Like