Car Care

Can You Pump Up a Car Tire with a Bike Pump?

In desperate times, we are forced to try anything in hopes it can save the day. The same applies to a deflated tire when your only tool available is a bike pump. Since you are wondering whether it works, we will explain. 

Generally speaking, a bike pump can pump up a car tire. However, it will not be easy and will take a long time. We will show you how to check the tire pressure, attach the pump, and properly inflate the tire. Most of the standard bike pumps have the ability to pump up a car tire to the necessary pressure levels for driving. 

Keep reading to learn the exact process of how to pump up your car tire with a bike pump. We cover it all. 

What Types of Bike Pumps Can I Use?

There are different types of bike pumps that you may have stashed away in your garage. These three types are the most popular and work when trying to inflate a car tire. 

1. Electric Bike Pump

The electric bike pump would be the best option to have in the event of an emergency. It requires less energy and time to pump up a car tire and get the job done efficiently. Because it is powered electrically, it has more power to pump a tire to higher pressure levels too.

This would be considered the top bike pump to use on your car tire. In fact, some people even buy these pumps specifically for their vehicle tires.  

2. Full-Sized Manual Bike Pump

The full-sized manual bike pump is the tall, thin pump that you have seen everywhere a million times in the past. It is the most popular bike pump and requires a long range of motion for each pump into a tire.

Theoretically, this pump can work to inflate a car tire but it would require a lot of energy and time to make it happen.

This bike pump can also help you to increase your car tire pressure. We estimate that it would take over 100 full-range pumps before the tire would start to feel enough pressure to make an impact. While it sounds difficult, after enough time your tire can be fully inflated this way. 

3.Portable Bike Pump

The portable bike pump is the most basic option of the three and it is exactly what it sounds like. This is a smaller pump that requires you to hand pump the tire. It will attach you a bag or the bike frame because it is so small and handy. 

This is a great option for bikes when you need quick inflation on the go, but for pumping up a car tire it is not the best choice. It would take many hours using the portable bike pump to see any results trying to inflate a car tire. We do not recommend this option.  

How Long Does it Take?

The most important question you are probably wondering is how long does it take. Of course, with unlimited time any pump could eventually inflate a tire. However, it is difficult to answer simply because of the external factors that exist. 

As we just discussed, the results will vary greatly based on the type of bike pump that is being used. Assuming the standard manual pump is the choice, it would take between 100-400 intense pumps to inflate a single car tire.

This would be an extremely intense workout but in the event of an emergency, it can be done in a timely fashion. The portable bike pump would likely take thousands of pumps due to the shorter range of motion. Less energy and air are exerted on each pump, therefore many more pumps are required.

Other factors that would impact the length include how flat the tire is, the temperature, and your strength. Each factor could impact what the current PSI level is and how long it would take you to reach the desired PSI level. 

Prepare Your Car For the Bike Pump

Before you get started, preparing the car is necessary to avoid any mistakes or malfunctions during the process. These tips can also help you remain safe during the inflation process too. 

Remember to remove the valve caps on each tire that needs to be inflated. The valve cap can be found on the sidewall of the tire. It is almost always positioned right on the metal hubcap or frame of the tire. The caps are easily screwed on and off for quick access. 

After you unscrew the valve cap on the tire, store them in a safe location. The worst thing would be to lose the caps and ride around on your tires without them. Other important tips include turning off your vehicle and placing it in the park to avoid any potential mistakes. 

What is the Desired Tire Pressure for Your Tire? 

Inflating your tire may sound simple once you get started, but knowing the desired tire pressure to inflate it to is a little more difficult. 

The desired tire pressure is the PSI and it can be found on the sticker along the side of your vehicle near the driver’s door. It is placed right where the door opens on the bottom for easy viewing. Inspect this sticker to find the optimal air pressure for your tires. 

If you don’t see it, look for the vehicle manual. It will be included here too. If neither of these options is available, it’s time to turn to Google and look up the details about your vehicle there. 

How to Check Your Tire Pressure?

Checking your tire pressure is something you should do regularly, rather than just when using a bike pump to inflate your tire. To check your tire pressure accurately, you will need a tire pressure gauge. 

Before taking the reading, clean off the pressure gauge and remove any dirt or debris. It is a common occurrence for something to get caught in the gauge and cause a leak or lead to inaccurate reading.

Start by taking the gauge and placing it firmly into the valve until it no longer makes the hissing sound of air escaping the tire. After this sound stops, release. 

You can then check the gauge to see your reading. The gauge will have a slide reader that pops out for you to see after the reading is taken. Once you get your number, compare this to the recommended tire pressure to see where you stand. 

Do the same process on each tire for optimal driving safety.  

Safety Tips to Consider

It is important to remember that this is an unorthodox solution. You need to proceed with caution and be careful to avoid any car damages or personal injuries. Before you start to use the bike pump, make sure the adapter on the bike pump matches the tire.

Don’t use a gauge that attaches to an air compressor. These types of gauges will wear quickly and can be very inaccurate with readings. It is better to use a separate tire pressure gauge.

Double-check the pump before you start. Sometimes, the connection between the pump valve and the tire valve isn’t made securely enough and air will escape while you try to inflate the tire. This will only make your job even harder, especially while using a bike pump.  

Lastly, be sure to inspect the hose in the pump for any leaks or punctures. A bike pump will last a long time but the older pumps can tear and cause issues. If you notice any punctures or cracks on the pump, it might have a leak and won’t work properly.

Be careful during this entire process and double-check everything just to be safe. 

Bike Pump Alternatives 

Now that you know a bike pump is a real solution to inflating your car tire with air, you might be tempted to rely on this in the future. While it will work, we do not recommend it as a go-to solution. There are certainly better alternatives to consider.

Be mindful of your PSI levels and the correct numbers affiliated with your vehicle. It will not be as easy to track with a bike pump, but still remains as an important variable. When you fill your tires with the right air pressure, they drive better and last longer. 

Some alternatives we would recommend aside from the obvious include an air compressor or air tank that you store at your home in the event of an emergency flat. They sell small CO2 cylinders and these pair with a 110V compressor to use for emergency tire inflation.

Another option is the Aerosol “Fix-A-Flat” cans that hook up to a hose. It will seal and inflate your tire in seconds. The hose top works on different wheels and is a quick process compared to a smaller bike pump solution. It is an easy clean up and requires far less energy than using a manually operated pump. 

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