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What's behind our tire pressure gauge Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 11 models in tire pressure gauges to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    Overall score is based on weighted average of accuracy, ease of use, and durability.
  • Type

    Stick-type pressure gauges resemble a ballpoint pen are simple and compact, and don't need batteries. Pressure is read off of a sliding scale proportional to the air pressure.

    Digital gauges have an electronic LCD readout, like a pocket calculator's. That makes them easier to read than the scale on a stick-type gauge. Some digital readouts light up. That's handy for checking pressure in low-light conditions.

    Dial gauges, the other main type, have an analog dial like a clock face. Most are easy to read but those with an extension hose take two hands to operate. Some come with an extension hose, and they are often more feature-laden than pocket-sized gauges with a bleeder valve and dual-scale dial.

  • Accuracy
    Accuracy is based on a comparison of each model against a known calibrated master gauge at various pressures, and at cold, room, and hot temperatures. Cold and hot temperatures simulated storing the gauge in a car in winter and summer temperatures.
  • Ease of use
    Ease of use is primarily an assessment of pressure readability and how easy is it to take a pressure reading on an inflated tire.
  • Durability
    Each model was checked for accuracy after a drop test of approximately 30-inches from a table to judge durability.
  • Pressure range
    Pressure range is the working span of pressure measurement of the gauge.


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Recommended tire pressure gauges

Recommended tire pressure gauges are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Price & Shop
Rolling resistance increases with underinflated tires, which can reduce fuel mileage by one mpg or more. Low pressure also makes tires wear out faster, and it can lead to tires overheating, risking a dangerous failure at speed. If you're looking for information about tire pressure gauges, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports’ tire pressure gauge reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our tire pressure gauge buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased ratings and tire pressure gauge reviews to help you choose the best tire pressure gauge for your needs.

Tire pressure gauge buying guide

Keeping your car tires properly inflated is an easy maintenance chore that's vital to your safety. Under-inflated tires build up excess heat as you drive, which can result in tire failure. With too little air pressure, tires can also wear faster and unevenly, waste fuel, and negatively impact the vehicle's braking and handling. To help maintain tires in top condition, use a tire-pressure gauge to check the pressure of your tires at least once a month and before starting on any long trip. For an accurate read, make sure the car has been parked for three or more hours before checking the tire pressure.

Tire-pressure gauges are available at auto-parts stores, big-box stores, and other retailers, as well as online. We have found in our testing that good gauges for consumers typically cost $5 to $15. Keep the tire-pressure gauge in a protective sleeve, as cleanliness will ensure its longevity and accuracy. If a gauge is old, worn, or dirty, or it has been dropped, it may not be reliable and you should get a new one. For the nominal cost, it is a wise investment.

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