Can You Use A Bike Pump To Fill Up A Car Tire? | PedalChef

Have you ever found yourself in a bind with a flat? If you have a bike pump the thought might be a bit tempting. But can you use a bike pump to fill up a car tire?

After all, a bike tire and a car tire are pretty different and you don’t want to end up damaging your bike pump.

It is possible to fill up your car tire with a bike pump, but you have to keep an eye out for weight and pressure. The car on top of the tire can put a significant amount of stress on the pump which can cause damage.

If you’re stuck and you really need to fill up your car tire, you can do so with a bike pump, but again, there are things to remember about it as you go through the process.

The good thing is that you don’t have to go through all the trial and error of figuring out how you can fill your car tire with a bike pump, because we already went and did that for you. With all the information in one place, you can avoid the mistakes we made.



Types of Bike Pumps

There are different types of bike pumps, and if you aren’t familiar with the difference between these two, you wouldn’t know which one is right for your car tires either.

The difference comes in the type of valve the pump has. Some come with Presta valves, which are used for things that need a very high pressure to inflate. Many bike tires will usually need a pump with a Presta valve.

On the other hand, Schrader valves are wider than Presta valves, and typically much shorter. They’re much more universal than Presta valves too, because they can be used to inflate all kinds of things. Car tires will usually have a Schrader valve receiver too.

You can tell if the pump has a Schrader or Presta by looking at the receiver on the hose. In the opening, there should be a small pin. This pin would press against the car tire to release the pressure that gets built up and prevents the tire and the pump from damage.

If you don’t have this pin, then you likely have a pump for a Presta valve, which is not suitable for inflating car tires.

Managing The Tire Pressure

Before you set your pump up, you want to know your car’s tire pressure. All cars will have tire pressure stated somewhere or the other. This can either be on the wall of the tire itself, or inside the driver’s door.

The pressure for front and back tires can be different so make sure to read these correctly. The unit to measure the pressure should also be stated, and you should note this carefully too, to avoid any problems later.

Once you know the target air pressure, you want to check the existing pressure in the tire so you can figure out how much air you have to put in.

A pressure gauge is a pretty easy and inexpensive way to do this. All you have to do is put the tire valve in the gauge and apply pressure. The reading on the gauge will increase.

If you don’t have a pressure gauge, you can also check if the bike pump has a built-in one. If yes, the process is the same. Pressure gauges on bike pumps are not as reliable, since they get worn out with use, but they should give you a general idea of how much air is needed.

The other option is to simply go ahead and continue pumping until your tire has enough to last you until you manage to get to a repair shop. The professionals can do a much better job than you can.

But since we’re talking about inflating a tire with a bike pump, let’s go over how to actually do it.

Inflating Your Car Tire with a Bike Pump

Preparing Your Car and Positioning Jack

Before anything else, you want to use a jack to lift the tire off the ground.

This is a very important part of inflating your car tire with a bike pump, and you should make sure not to miss it. This is because if you don’t use a jack, the pump you’re using will end up working against the pressure that is coming from within the tire, as well as the car itself. Cars are big and heavy and have a lot of pressure that your bike pump will not be able to handle.

If you don’t use a jack to raise the tire off the ground, you’d find that your pump’s hose would be unable to stand it, and you may end up with a damaged pump.

Another important thing to remember is that your car should be on a flat surface. If the car falls off the jack, you could end up in a dangerous situation. Additionally, you want to see that the jack is pushing up against the frame, and not a spot where it could leave a dent and cause damage.

Inflating the Tires

Now that you’ve set everything up and checked for pressure, you have to actually inflate your tire.

Depending on the tire, you may have a fast leak or a slow leak. Slow leaks are good since the air will be running out of the tire slowly. This way, you’d be putting air into the tire faster than it leaks out and will be able to fill it up easily.

With a bike pump, filling up a car tire can take time – sometimes even up to 10 or 15 minutes of continuous pumping. Once fully inflated, if the air isn’t leaking out too fast, check for pressure again to make sure you have it right.

Again: the pressure requirements for front and back tires are different. Make sure not to confuse them.

The story changes a bit if your tire has a fast leak. With fast leaks, the air leaks out faster than you can fill the tire up. Because bike pumps are slow, they may not work on tires with fast leaks at all.

Your options would be to either pump like crazy if the tire is holding any air at all, or simply take it to the repair shop.

At the end of the day, a bike pump is not made to inflate car tires, so it’s understandable that there will be difficulty around it.

It does work as a decent option when there’s an emergency, but if you’re not careful, it can cause damage to your tires. Over inflating and under-inflating your tires can harm the tires as well as the rim, so you have to take extra care around filling your tires.

Ideally, if you have no other option, you should use the bike pump as a temporary method to fill the tires enough to last you to the repair shop. There, the pros can check for any issues and make sure your tires have the right amount of air in them.

So, while a bike pump does work, it’s not the best solution out there. One misstep and you could end up with more on your plate than you did before.


Danny Lawson

Danny Lawson

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.

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