According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire failure is responsible for nearly 11,000 vehicle crashes every year. Under-inflated tires are a leading cause of accelerated tire degradation, making properly inflated tires one of the most important – and easiest – things you can do to avoid a tire catastrophe and becoming a statistic.
Auto manufacturers know this, which is why vehicles made after 2008 now incorporate a Tire Pressure Monitoring System TPMS, an electronic system that displays tire pressure in real time on a dashboard and alerts drivers if the pressure in one or more tires drops below recommended levels. But manufacturers – and any tire expert – will be the first to tell you that TPMS’ are no substitute for regularly checking your tires on your own. And, of course, older vehicles don’t have this technology, and the good ol’ “look test” (as in “they look fine”) simply doesn’t cut it.
Fortunately there’s a simple, sure-fire, accurate and reliable way to check your tire pressure… and a 4-pack only costs $13.
TireTrend,com doesn’t recommend products. Regular readers of our content know that our mission is to scour the internet and do the research for you so that you don’t have to. But we’re going to break our rules just this once to say that the best tire pressure gauge is the trusty old faithful that has adorned glove compartments and home garages for decades.
In today’s technology-first world, if something doesn’t have a screen, it’s antiquated. Tire pressure gauges are not immune to this insanity, and one need look no further than Amazon to see that the #1 selling tire pressure gauge is “digital” and has a screen with illuminated numbers.
This means that old faithful is now dubbed an “analog tire pressure gauge” on account of not having any bells, whistles or batteries that need changing. But these relics continue to perform reliably under any circumstances and for virtually any tire on the market. You’ll be well-served and never let down by having one of these in each of your vehicles and home garage.
But getting back to our roots, we took the liberty of scouring the internet and compiling the top ranked tire pressure gauges according to widely-read tire and auto outlets and highly-trafficked online retailers. Perhaps not surprisingly, Amazon proved to be one of the best resources for ratings; we’ve included their top picks at the bottom of this article.
We also frequented other well-known and well-trafficked sites and were shocked to find that a handful of their top picks are no longer available for purchase. Quite strange, and yet a sign that even in an tried and true industry, things are constantly changing.
Best tire pressure gauges according to AutoGuide
The Rhino USA Heavy Duty tire pressure gauge bridges old school and new school. It has a rubber-encapsulated glow in the dark meter (not backlit by battery power) that swivels completely around and records the reading until the reset button is hit. Some users complain that the gauge can only read up to 75 PSI, but for the overwhelming majority of auto and even bicycle tires, 75 PSI is more than enough.
Best gauges according to Walmart
Everyone knows Walmart because they’re, well, everywhere. If you’re like us, we’re primarily in-person Walmart shoppers and only occasionally buy things from their website. It looks like many Walmart shoppers agree with this philosophy, at least when it comes to tire gauges as there are not a lot of reviews for tire gauges across Walmart’s online store. Of the various options, the Hyper Tough Digital Tire Pressure Gauge (model ST111705S) has the highest combination of stars (4.4 out of 5) and reviews (40 reviews). The Hyper Tough has a backlit screen, one-button operation, and automatically turns off from inaction.
Best gauges according to CNET
CNET is best known for their technology reviews: computer, tablets, TVs, sound bars, etc. But we were chuffed to come across a CNET Ranking from early 2021 evaluating tire pressure gauges. They didn’t crown a top gauge and instead listed their top seven favorites, all of which can be found courtesy of the link above. But the one listed first on their website is the Jaco Elite Tire Pressure Gauge – 60 PSI. Sadly, at the time of this writing, the JACO is unavailable for purchase, either on Amazon or JACO’s main website, which lists the item as “out of stock.” We are including a link to JACO’s website in the hopes that this product returns to the shelves at some point.
Best gauges according to Consumer Reports
We’re big fans of Consumer Reports, despite them keeping their best rankings and ratings behind a paywall. But their philosophy – independently purchased and tested products – stands the test of time and sets them apart from many of the other product review outlets that claim independence but really are just in the game to score free products from companies and then write puffy reviews.
But in this case, their top pick, a digital tire gauge by Accutire, the MS-4400B, is unavailable for purchase anywhere, so we’re not going to spend time on its features, benefits or drawbacks.
Best tire pressure gauges on Amazon
That brings us to the elephant in every room: Amazon. Amazon breaks things out in a bunch of different ways: digital tire pressure gauges; analog tire gauges; and Air Tool Parts & Accessories.
Their top digital tire pressure gauge is made by AstroAI and has more than 37,000 reviews averaging 4.5 stars out of 5. Despite some of Amazon’s issues over the years with fake reviews propping up lackluster products, the AstroAI seems to be a worthwhile investment if a digital gauge is where your heart is set. And at a price point of under $10 and available in a variety of colors (because, you know, variety is the spice of life), it’s hard to think that you’d be making a mistake here by following the masses and purchasing one or a few of these for your tire safety needs.
On the analog side, AstroAI ranks best again. The AstroAI Pencil Tire Pressure Gauges (it’s a two-pack) can best be described as old reliable. If you’re north of 40 years old like us and someone mentions a tire pressure gauge, these are the classic silver, pen-like cylinders that immediately spring to mind. And if you’re anything like us, you either have the original one that your dad gave you 20 years ago when you started driving, or you buy a new one every single time you need to check your tire pressure and then immediately lose it. In any event, a 4-pack costs $13 and does the exact same thing as all of the fancy, screen-laden gizmos on the market today.
On the wildly-ambiguous-and-all-encompassing-category of Air Tool Parts & Accessories, AstroAI again takes the top spot with their AstroAI Digital Tire Inflator with Pressure Gauge. Retailing for $25, it racks up more than 12,000 reviews with an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. At $25 bucks, it’s by far the most expensive on the list, but that’s because it’s made to work in real time with an air compressor, filing tires and measuring the PSI simultaneously. You don’t need an air compressor for the PSI gauge to work, but if you’re only planning to use it as a tire gauge not hooked up to an air compressor, why pay the extra money for features you aren’t going ot use?
How much air do I put in my tires?
If you’re wondering what’s the right PSI for your tires, there’s an easy answer. The maximum PSI that a tire can hold is imprinted on its sidewall (if you’re interested in learning what the numbers on your side of your tires mean, check out our article showing what each of the numbers on your tire mean). But the best place to look is on the inside of the driver side door, where the door meets the car frame.
This image not only tells you the proper size tires for your vehicle, but also the correct PSI for maximum safety, handling and efficiency.