Yes, if you really need to use a bike pump on a car tire, you can. It is not an ideal solution, but you can make it work if a bike pump is all you have.
The main reason not to use a bike pump on a car tire is that it is too slow. Car tires have a huge amount of air in them relative to bike tires, so it takes a long time to pump them up by hand. However, a bike pump usually does work, even if the car tire is completely flat.
It is easiest to inflate a car tire with a bicycle pump if you have an electric or foot-operated bike pump. With a hand-operated pump, inflating a flat car tire is very slow. Don't use a bike pump more than once or twice - use a real air compressor next time.
If you are planning to use a bike pump to inflate your car tires, there are some tips and tricks you should know first. If your valves are incompatible, you can't use the bike pump. If your car is not on flat ground, it will be much more of a hassle to pump up the tires.
As someone who has used a bike pump on car tires a couple of times, I know how long it takes. The first time I pumped up a car tire with a bike pump, it took 30 minutes; the second time, it took a fair bit longer. It depends on what kind of a pump you have and how flat your tires are.
Some Types of Pumps Won't Work at All
Sometimes, there just isn't any way to use your bike pump on car tires. The valves have to be compatible.
A pump for mountain bikes will usually work; a pump for racing bikes has a different valve system and won't work on car tires. If the pump doesn't fit no matter what you do, it is not compatible with car tires, and there is no way to use it.
If the pump fits your tires, you can use it to inflate them, even if it is small and can't move much air with each stroke. It might be slow, but if the pump fits, it will do the job.
Hand-Operated Mini Bike Pumps
These are the slowest, but you can still use them to pump up your car tires if you really have to. It will take a lot of strokes and quite a bit of time.
These are what usually come to mind when people think of bicycle pumps. You stand them up on the ground and use both hands to push a T-shaped handle up and down.
These pumps are up to the task, but you might still have to pump up and down fairly fast for more than half an hour to inflate a flat tire. If your tire is merely low on air, it won't take nearly as long.
Foot pumps are the fastest. Each movement of your foot pushes a lot more air into the tire than each movement with a hand-operated pump does. It is still slow and a hassle compared to a compressed air system, but it's not as slow or tiring as with a hand pump.
Unlike manually-operated bicycle pumps, electric bicycle pumps are perfectly fine for inflating your car tires. It doesn't take any effort, and it doesn't even take much time.
Electric bike pumps that are marketed to cyclists are more like general-purpose tire pumps that can work either for bike or car tires. If you want a single pump that works for both your mountain bike and your car, get an electric pump. Keep in mind that the valves must be compatible with both your bike and your car.
Why Are Bicycle Pumps So Slow?
There's an enormous difference between how much air an air compressor can move per second compared to how much a manually operated pump can move. With an air compressor, you have to be careful not to over-inflate your tires because that will wear them out faster. With a bike pump, it takes minutes to do as much work as an air compressor can do in seconds.
If you want to be able to inflate your car tires at home, you should get a portable air compressor for home use. Again, don't use a bicycle pump except in a situation where you really need your tires inflated, and nothing else is available.
How to Pump Up Your Tires With a Bicycle Pump
First, park your car on a flat surface - it will be harder to use your pump otherwise. This step matters because you are going to be pumping for quite a while, even if you pump fast.
You don't want to make this even harder by having to push with the pump leaning on an angle. There is also the possibility that the car might move when the tire inflates, which could seriously hurt you. Make sure the ground is flat so that the car won't roll anywhere.
Second, use a pressure gauge if you have one. Look at how much pressure is currently in your tires, and compare that to your tire's recommended value, which might be printed on the tire. If there isn't a huge difference, it might not take all that much pumping.
Attach the Pump to the Tire
Attach the pump to the tire carefully. If it doesn't immediately connect, don't give up. Your pump will probably work; you just need to fiddle with it a little to get the pump to connect. When you connect it, you should hear the sound of air escaping, as long as there is at least some air in the tire.
After that, there is a lever on your bike pump that you must raise to create a seal. Start pumping, and don't expect it to fill up very quickly.
Check the tire pressure with your pressure gauge again when your car tire appears to be getting fuller. Anything within 5psi of the recommended pressure is good enough, so you can stop pumping if the pressure is pretty close.
About THE AUTHOR
Mountain biking is more than just a hobby for me - it's a way of life. I love the challenge and excitement that comes with it, and I'm always pushing myself to go faster and ride harder. Some people might think that mountain biking is dangerous, but I see it as the only way to live.Read More About Danny Lawson