The definitive guide to choosing a tire pressure gauge

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Desert Lizard
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This post is a brief, but hopefully comprehensive guide to choosing the right tire pressure gauge. We won't cover why you need to deflate, or by how much here, as the focus is on the specs of the tools you will need. I'll be adding pictures later.

Gauge Range
Sand driving requires low tire air pressure, so we are dealing in the low PSI range. Therefore, the gauge you choose must be able to read the lowest possible pressure. For practicality, any gauge that starts from 5 PSI is OK, but lower is better. This also means that for analog gauges (those which have a needle and are mechanically operated) there is a lower top pressure for the gauge. The optimal range we are looking for is 0 to 60 PSI. There are gauges that can measure 0 to 100PSI..but they may not be optimal, read on to know why.

Gauge Increment
The gauge should be able to tell you the tire pressure at increments of 1 PSI. There are gauges with 2PSI increments, and there are 0.5 PSI increments. The 2PSI gauge is not clear enough and the 0.5 is an overkill. Get a gauge that spells your pressure 1 PSI by 1PSI.

Ease of Use
Generally, there are 2 types of gauges: Press On, and Screw on. With the press on, you need to press the gauge input onto the tire valve, and with the screw on, you need to screw on the input on the tire valve.. Guess which one is easier to use: The press on of course.
However, some press on gauges don't have enough cavity to receive the tip of the tire valve completely in them, and you have to be very accurate while using them.. Normally air escapes and you need multiple attempts to get a reading. On the other hand screw on gauges are tight, but take much more time to use.

Pressure Reading Consistency
The better quality gauge the more consistent the reading you get over time, even after prolonged usage. Like all things, the pressure gauge may not give you the correct reading of the pressure and might be off by a couple of PSIs up or down, but this is not as important as having a gauge that produces the same reading time after time.

Calibrating Your Gauge
After you get your precious gauge, drive to the nearest air pump (any petrol station will do) and use the pumps electronic gauge to check your tire pressure. Then use your own gauge to check the pressure and note the difference.
If there is no difference, excellent. If there is a difference of 1 or maybe 2 PSI, check two more time to make sure your gauge is consistent, then remember to add or subtract this difference from your gauges reading every time you check your tire pressure.

Digital Pressure Gauges
Digital Pressure gauges overcome many of the shortcomings of analog gauges, however, you still need to calibrate them and make sure they are consistent. Moreover, if their battery is out, you got nothing. Also they are affected by heat, but only in the extreme cases.
Paul
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Hi DL

Excellent post.

My only comment / additional input would be to be very sceptical of Gas Station pressure gauges to check your gauge against.
I have found them to be VERY varied at different gas stations. They sell petrol, not air.... so don't really care about their air pumps.
Having said that, some are excellent......

However, rather go to a professional tire shop. Their equipment will be much better.

Get them to set one tire at your Off Road pressure (10 or 12psi..... or whatever has been recommended by your Marshal)
Check what your gauge reads, with this pressure set. Use this value when you deflate next time.
Your gauge could be way off from the tire shop, but it is OK.

Do the same for your road pressure (30 or 35psi, etc )

Regards
Paul
bijubs
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Dear DL ,
I had learned through your yesterday's lesson and with this post .. thanks a lot for yesterdays support .. hopefully i will have a professional one soon !!!
delta83
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great post DL,

currently i use 3 different brand gauges to make sure the tire pressure is correct (deflater, analogue and needle one) and all should read the same pressure,
one more note to add, always check the pressure with more than 1 or 2 gauges
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caprihorse
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Paul;37314 wrote:Hi DL

Excellent post.

My only comment / additional input would be to be very sceptical of Gas Station pressure gauges to check your gauge against.
I have found them to be VERY varied at different gas stations. They sell petrol, not air.... so don't really care about their air pumps.
Having said that, some are excellent......

However, rather go to a professional tire shop. Their equipment will be much better.

Get them to set one tire at your Off Road pressure (10 or 12psi..... or whatever has been recommended by your Marshal)
Check what your gauge reads, with this pressure set. Use this value when you deflate next time.
Your gauge could be way off from the tire shop, but it is OK.

Do the same for your road pressure (30 or 35psi, etc )

Regards
Paul
Paul, at some ADNOC stations earlier I noticed an official sticker with valid time stamp about gauge certification stick on the gauge. Those I did trust.
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caprihorse
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delta83;37332 wrote:great post DL,

currently i use 3 different brand gauges to make sure the tire pressure is correct (deflater, analogue and needle one) and all should read the same pressure,
one more note to add, always check the pressure with more than 1 or 2 gauges
... and several times during the trip :grin:
Paul
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Hi guys

I can't agree with Capri more.....

Tire pressure in the sand is VERY important. 1 or 2 psi difference can make a huge difference.
As the day warms up, you will need to deflate a little more. These small changes during the day may seem like a big pain, but it must be done.

and one more comment....

For your road driving pressure, it should be a 'cold check'.... if that is possible in the UAE.
So, what i do is either inflate at home, in the morning, before driving.
OR
Slightly over inflate at the gas station on my drive home and then deflate in the morning to the correct pressure.

Regards
Paul
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