Under Pressure!

3 min read
What you should know about the three types of tyre pressure gauges.

Your car’s tyres are what separate your car and the road surface, and that is no small matter. Tyres are indispensable to our cars, helping our cars grip the roads securely and providing a smooth and safe ride.

In order for them to perform optimally and function properly, the tyres must be properly inflated. Such a tyre will last longer, give your car a quicker steering response, and lead to better fuel efficiency. If your car’s tyres are under inflated, you run the risk of premature tread wear, consume more fuel and possible tyre failure. The best way to get the most out of your tyres is to do monthly checks on the pressure of your tyres — and you do that by using a tyre pressure gauge.

There are basically three types of these gauges: a stick version, a digital version, and a dial type. The primary function of each type is the same, but it is good to know the difference in how they work.Stick Gauge
The most basic type here is the stick gauge. It has a slim profile and resembles a ballpoint pen, as there is a sliding plastic rod within its metal casing. The top end of the stick gauge has a spherical attachment with which to press onto the valve stem of your tyre. Press on the valve firmly and the plastic white rod will gradually slide out, indicating a tyre pressure reading. Be patient and wait for it to completely stop before you get a reading.

Stick gauges are affordable and easy to use. Because they are really small and slim, you can fit one easily anywhere in the car. However, some motorists may find getting a reading problematic, especially if the plastic surface of the rod has scratches or grime, making it hard to see. Also, stick gauges tend to be less accurate, with wear and tear leading to further inaccuracies.

Dial Gauge
The dial gauge, as its name implies, has a dial that displays the pressure of the tyre. Dial gauges are more common on the market and easily available. Like stick gauges, they are pocket-sized, and some of them boast shock-resistant covers, which means they are meant to last longer. Apply the valve end of the gauge to the tyre valve, and wait for the needle to stop moving to get the pressure reading.

Dial gauges tread the middle ground in terms of accuracy — they are definitely better than the stick types in this department. The dial is also simple and easy to read. However, the calibrated spring of the gauge can be sensitive to a lot of motion. As reliable and dependable as they are, some motorists may find it a little clunky and cumbersome to store. Also, those without shock-resistant glass may be prone to breakage.

Digital Gauge
The most accurate of the lot is the digital gauge. As these gauges have a LCD display, it’s a cinch to read the PSI numbers off the screen. It is simple and easy to use; just turn on the gauge and plug onto the tyre’s valve nozzle to get the necessary reading.

Some digital gauges actually cost less than dial ones. However, do check that they come from reputable brands. Some digital gauges have LED lights, which is great if you happen to be in a poorly lit area. While they are accurate, digital gauges do run on batteries; weak batteries will lead to inaccurate readings or even no reading at all, so keep spare batteries handy in the car. Also, these gauges tend to be a little bigger than their analog counterparts.

Whichever version of the tyre pressure gauge you eventually buy, do practise using it even before you need to use it. It is important to know how to measure your tyre pressure and the correct pressure levels your tyres require. Over- or under-inflated tyres can be a safety risk, so make sure to do regular tyre pressure checks to keep yourself and your family safe on the roads.