Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

RV DIY Article – Take Care of your RV Tire Pressure Gauge

 

RV tire pressure gaugeI always talk about how important it is to check the inflation pressure in RV and automobile tires, but is your tire pressure gauge giving you accurate information? If not it is basically worthless. If your tire pressure gauge is old and/or gets banged around and thrown in a storage compartment it probably isn’t accurate anymore.

Lots of the inexpensive tire pressure gauges, say $5 to $10 that you purchase can’t be calibrated, so there is no way to tell if they are accurate. That’s why you should spend a little more, $15 to $30,  and get a quality tire pressure gauge that can be calibrated. I am a real believer in the old saying; you get what you pay for.

Here are some simple steps you can take to really know how much air pressure is in your tires:

  • You can check the air pressure in a tire with the gauge in question and then check the same tire with another gauge. If there is a significant difference in the readings (4 or more psi) between the two gauges one or both gauges may be inaccurate. If both gauges read within 1 to 2 psi of each other the gauges are more than likely accurate.
  • If you want a more precise way of checking the accuracy take the gauge to a local tire dealer or fleet truck maintenance facility and ask them to check it using a master gauge. A master gauge is a gauge that is certified to be accurate. But I caution you there are probably some tire dealers out there who don’t have their own tire pressure gauges calibrated.

  • Don’t depend on tire pressure gauges at gas stations to be accurate. These are usually abused and neglected, raising real concern over accuracy.
  • There are several different types of tire pressure gauges available on the market. One important thing to keep in mind is the pressure the gauge is rated for. Most automobile tires are inflated to about 32 psi, so a 0 to 60 psi gauge is sufficient. On the other hand some motorhome and truck tires are inflated to 100 psi, or more. It is important, for accuracy and to prevent damage to the gauge, that you get the right gauge for the job. A general rule of thumb is to find a gauge that can read double what the tire inflation pressure is set at. This isn’t always possible especially with tires inflated to 100 psi, so try to find a gauge rated for high pressure, like 160 psi.
  • A common type of pressure gauge is the plunge or pencil type gauge. Some of these are calibrated and some of the cheaper ones are not. As a general rule a common plunge type gauge you purchase will be accurate to + or – 3 psi when it is brand new. The accuracy of these type gauges are also affected by temperature, humidity and altitude.
  • Like everything else these days’ things are switching from analog to digital. Analog tire pressure gauges were the standard for many years, but advancements in digital technology have improved on that standard. Analog dial gauges are about as accurate as the quality pencil type gauges. In numerous tests comparing different type gauges digital gauges were the most accurate tested.
  • Regardless of the type of gauge you choose there are high quality and low quality gauges available. Buying a cheap digital gauge would be the same as buying a cheap pencil type gauge.

Here is a recap on selecting and using a tire pressure gauge:

1)  Spend a few more dollars and get a quality tire pressure gauge.

2) If the gauge will be used for checking dual wheels on a motorhome the chuck end of the gauge should have a dual foot design to make the job much easier.

3) Always select a gauge rated higher than the inflation pressure of the tires you are checking. Applying more pressure than the gauge is rated for can damage the gauge and affect the gauge’s accuracy. If you over-pressure a gauge have it tested for accuracy.

4) Try not to drop or jar the gauge. Store the gauge in some type of protective covering or case and in an area where it won’t be hit or damaged.

5) Periodically have the gauge tested for accuracy. At a minimum compare it to another quality tire pressure gauge to see if both read the same, or close to the same pressure.

6) Most importantly, once you purchase a quality pressure gauge use it on a regular basis to check your RV and automobile tires.

Remember properly inflated tires are safer, extend the life of the tires, improve fuel efficiency and lessen the chance of unexpected and premature tire failure.

Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk

RV training DVDs and products available at: RV Education 101®

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