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Flat tires are always annoying and sometimes may result in other significant problems like tire damage and deform the wheel’s rims. Therefore, also deteriorates the performance and fuel economy of your car.

Sometimes it may be impossible to get to the nearest gas station to put air into your tire. And so, as an alternative, you may be thinking can you pump a car tire with a bike pump?

The answer is yes you can, and this article will provide you with all the necessary information on the pros and cons of using a bike pump to fill a car tire along with the method.

Table of Contents

Can A Bike Pump Fill A Car Tire?

Can you pump a car tire with a bike pump? Yes, you can use a bike pump to inflate and fill a car tire, but you must be aware that it’s going to take a lot of effort and time. Manually pumping a tire can take upwards of 20 minutes depending on how flat the tire is.

This is only an option for people with patience, trust me! You may have to put in hundreds of pumps to re-inflate your car tire. These pumps are designed to inflate bike tires to upwards of 80 psi, so they definitely have the capabilities, but the key difference is the volume of air.

Something that might take two dozen pumps to achieve on a skinny bike tire would take 200 pumps on an automobile tire. You’re going to be pumping that bike pump for a very long time, but at least know that it is possible.

Why Use a Bike Pump to Inflate a Car Tire?

If you’re in an emergency, stuck somewhere and your tire desperately needs air, you may well have to grab a bike pump to fill it. This will give you enough temporary pressure to make it home or get to the nearest gas station to be able to refill there.

It may be that you simply do not have access to a compressor and the only way you can top off your tire is by using a bike pump. If you need to get to work or plan on driving to an air compressor somewhere else, you might be tempted to grab a bike pump — especially if that’s all you have at your disposal.

However, the most common reason why people use a bike pump to inflate their car tires is likely because they just patched a flat tire. After getting a puncture in your tire, there’s a way to seal the gap so you are able to keep driving. After the seal is done, your tire will still be very low. A bike pump can help to refill this tire.

Some people may even solely be attempting this method as a means of bragging to their friends or proving a point. Regardless of why you need to use a bike pump to inflate your car tire, let’s get into the “how”.

Inflating Car Tire With a Bike Pump: Equipment Needed

All you need to be able to complete this process is:

  • Bike pump
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Flathead screwdriver

Inflating a Car Tire With a Bike Pump Step-By-Step Guide

I’ll first summarize the step-by-step guide with further details and tips to follow!

Time needed: 2 minutes

Inflating a Car Tire With a Bike Pump Step-By-Step Guide

  1. Assess the Tire

    First of all, assess your car tire to ensure it is safe to inflate.

  2. Remove the Valve Stem Cover

    Remove the cap from the valve stem.

  3. Take Pressure Reading

    Use your pressure gauge to read the current pressure of the tire.

  4. Find Recommended Tire Pressure

    Locate your tire pressure as per the car manufacturer’s recommendation.

  5. Attach the Bike Pump to Valve Stem

    Attach the black valve on the bike pump to the valve stem on the tire.

  6. Pump Air

    Use the bike pump to pump air into the car tire.

  7. Replace Cap On Valve Stem Cover

    When you’ve reached the desired tire pressure, replace the cap on the valve stem.

Assess the Tire

Firstly, it’s generally recommended to assess your deflated tire for damage. Find out the source of your flat tire, is there a nail or screw lodged into the tire? Does it need patching?

Is it going to be safe and worthwhile to spend 20-30 minutes inflating the car tire with a bike pump? Once you have answered the above questions, and are happy to proceed, you can follow the next steps!

Remove the Valve Stem Cover

Somewhere on your flattened tire, there will be a valve stem sticking out. I’m sure you know what this looks like already, but it’s a black tube protruding from the wheel.

Your first task is to remove the small cap from this valve stem so that you’re able to inflate the tire with air. Grab the cap with your fingers and rotate it counterclockwise to be able to completely loosen and remove it.

I advise keeping it somewhere you won’t lose it, like in your pocket, so that you’re able to replace it later on.

Take Pressure Reading

Whip out your tire pressure gauge and push its nozzle up against the valve stem to get a reading of the current pressure of your deflated car tire. Here you’re looking to read the PSI (pounds per square inch) rating.

Locate your tire pressure as per the car manufacturer’s recommendation. Usually, this information will be on a sticker inside the driver’s door, but sometimes it may be inside the petrol cap.

If you cannot find it, then refer to the car’s owner’s manual, or contact the manufacturer directly. The information provided will include a recommendation for the PSI value of the front two tires, and rear two tires, so it is important to take the correct one.

Attach the Bike Pump to Valve Stem

Now you have all the relevant information, you can attach the black valve on the bike pump onto the valve stem on your deflated tire.

The bike pump’s valve should have a little arm on the rear of it. This arm needs to be straight down when you put the valve over your tire’s valve stem.

And then, to lock the bike pump in, this arm needs to be brought up 90-degrees. When locked, the arm will be perpendicular to the tube feeding the black valve, and now your bike pump is officially locked in ready to pump air.

Related: Tyre Guide 101: Tyre Tips That Can Save Your Life

Pump Air

Now it’s time to begin pumping air into your deflated tire. Your bike pump, like most, should have some sort of platform at its base where you can put your feet to secure the pump in place and disable it from moving when you pump.

I’m sure you know how to use the pump: use two hands to bring the handle of the pump straight up, then push it straight down. Every time you push the handles of the pump all the way down, you’re pressurizing the inside air of the tire.

After pumping for a little while, it is recommended to check the tire pressure using the gauge. Do this simply by unlocking the bike pump valve by swinging the locking arm down and removing the valve from the tire’s valve stem.

Place your tire pressure gauge on the tire’ valve stem and take a reading. Reset the gauge and take two more readings to ensure that the reading is accurate.

You should keep repeating this process of pumping and checking the PSI reading until you reach a PSI value that’s within 5 psi of the recommended value per the manufacturer.

This value will get you close enough so you can drive to a safe location that has an air pump and allow you to properly fill the tire. Otherwise, you can continue to use your time to manually pump up your tire with the bike pump until you reach the desired pressure.

NOTE: You must remember to check whether your bike pump is locked or unlocked every time you put it back on the tire’s valve stem. You will waste time if you pump when the valve isn’t locked in position, as all the air will escape and not go into the tire.

The quickest and best way to check whether the valve is locked is to gently pull the valve as if you were going to take it off. If it doesn’t immediately come off with ease, then you’re locked in and ready to go.

Replace Valve Stem Cover

Once you’ve reached your desired pressure, you can unlock the bike pump and remove it from the valve stem, before replacing the valve stem cap. Now you’re good to hit the road again!

Additional Note: Releasing Pressure if the Tire is Overinflated

It could be that you don’t have a pressure gauge at hand, or you don’t follow the steps of checking at regular intervals, or you’re simply an overambitious bike pumper and you put too much air in your tires.

Be warned, an overinflated tire is just as dangerous as an underinflated one. because the tread won’t properly stick to the road underneath it.

This is where that flathead screwdriver comes in handy, to allow you to release a little pressure from your tires. To do so, make sure the valve stem cap is removed from your tire’s valve stem and move the bike pump out of the way.

Use your flathead screwdriver to gently push against the valve stem of your tire. This will result in air escaping from your tire through the valve and you should be able to hear it, a hissing noise.

Make sure you only do this for a maximum of a few seconds. Remove your flathead screwdriver and grab your tire pressure gauge and check the PSI reading. If it’s still too high, then simply repeat this process again for a few seconds and check once again.

Aim not to overdo it in the opposite direction and bleed out too much air from the tire. The good news is that your bike pump is within reach if you happen to release too much air in this step, but you don’t want to keep having to go back and forth between the bike pump and bleeding air.

Inflating a Car Tire With a Bike Pump Tips

To finish off can you fill a car tire with a bike pump discussion. I will provide you with some tips to keep in mind throughout the process.

If you are pumping your tire with a bike pump on a hot summer day, it is advised to take a break for around 1-2 minutes after each 4-5 min segment of pumping.

The pumping process generates heat in the pump, and on a hot day, the bike pump can quickly overheat. This overheating can cause damage and may crack the pump. In addition to this, continuously doing the pumping will negatively impact your muscles, especially the muscles of your hands.

It is better to purchase a reliable tire pressure gauge, rather than one of low quality. Ones of too low in quality will only provide a rough idea about the tire pressure. And starting pumping with rough pressure measurement will negatively impact on tire’s health.

Moreover, there is a chance of getting the wrong information from these gauges. So, it is better to buy a reliable tire pressure gauge. It is not an expensive tool, and as a good driver, you should have it in your glove box.

Here’s an example of a Certified ANSI accurate pressure gauge readily available on Amazon!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

As a car’s fuel efficiency mostly depends on the tire, it is advised to check tire pressure at least once a month.

Before beginning pumping, check that the tire valve and pump valve are connected properly. If they are poorly connected, it will decrease efficiency, and take a lot more time to inflate.

Related: Why Rotating Your Car Tyres is Important

Also, the tire may deflate faster than inflate because of poor sealing. If you notice that valves are not appropriately attached, you should reattach the valves again.

After pumping sometimes, if you feel that the tire is not inflating properly, there may be a problem with the bike pump, if you know that your tire’s condition is good.

Generally, bike pumps should last a long amount of time. But if your bike pump is old; then you should check that it doesn’t have any cracks or tiny holes. You can examine your pump quite simply by touching it.

Alternative Methods to Inflate Car Tire

An alternative option to using a bike pump to inflate your car tire is, of course, using a tire inflator. Here’s an example of one readily available on Amazon!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What can I use to pump my tires?

To pump your tires you can use the preferred method of a tire inflator. Otherwise, you could opt to use a bike pump or an air compressor with the right attachments.

What will happen when someone uses a bicycle pump to add air to the tire?

The car tire will gradually inflate until the desired pressure is reached. Of course, this process requires a lot more effort and is more time consuming but it is still capable of providing the necessary PSI for a tire.

Can you use a hand pump for car tires?

Yes, you can use a bike pump to inflate and fill a car tire, but you must be aware that it’s going to take a lot of effort and time. Manually pumping a tire can take upwards of 20 minutes depending on how flat the tire is.

Please leave a comment below if you have any questions regarding using a bike pump on a car tyre!

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