Desperate times call for desperate measures, even if that means using a bike gadget to fix your car. At any moment you might be forced to work with a tool that is not optimal for usage on car tires but you have no choice. Many car owners have found themselves in situations where they need to get somewhere urgently but their car’s tire in a depressing state due to the low air pressure.
You scour the garage and find the only thing close to a pump is a bike pump and the question raises in your mind, “Can you use a bike pump on a car tire?” Keep reading to find out if this is feasible idea.
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Before You Start Pumping
First things first, let’s get this out of the way. You can use a bike pump on a car tire. However, you have to keep a few things in mind.
To start, understand that the process will take a long time because of course, a bike pump was not made to work on a car. You have to jack up your car or remove the tire as needed before trying to inflate the tire. A car is heavy and you cannot do the process safely without lifting it up. It’s also worth noting that for a bike pump to work with a car tire, an adapter will be required. Find them at any hardware store.
Different Valve Types
There are three kinds of bike innertube valves: Presta, Schrader, and Woods. On the other hand, tubeless valves are available in two variants: Presta and Schrader.
A Schrader valve is feature on every motor vehicle and bicycle with wider tires. This user-friendly valve has a removable core and can be adjusted by almost anyone. But it needs a bigger diameter rim hole which makes it unsuited for narrower rims, found commonly on road bikes.
In contrast, Presta valves are more complicated. They are relatively easier to use if the pump head secures in place and the pump has a hose. Maintain caution with push-fit hand pumps. Some Presta valves have removable cores but for those that don’t, a new tube will be needed.
Woods valves aren’t as common as the other two but they can be found on Dutch bikes. It has a Schrader’s wide valve stem but needs a Presta pump for inflation.
Most bikes are compatible with Schrader and Presta valves. Different valve adapters have to be used for different valves.
Different Bike Pump Types
Foot pumps aren’t used solely on bicycles. Normal bike pumps are referred to as floor or hand pumps. Foot pumps, as the name suggests, are used by foot. Therefore, they’re very effective and easy to use.
The Schwinn Bike Pump features improved heavier gauge steel struts for better durability. This is a super convenient option if you don’t want to power up your air compressor. Plus, it’s quite compact so you can carry it around.
A floor pump is harder to use than a foot pump and it’s also slower. It eliminates the hassle of having to use your leg strength to inflate a tire. However, floor pumps often come with many features that make tire inflation a breeze.
A great floor pump would be the GOBKO Floor Bike Pump. It’s made from high-strength steel which makes it durable and wear-resistant. It fits both Schrader and Presta valves so you don’t have to worry about looking into valve specifics before making the purchase. Users have complimented the ergonomic design of this model, saying the easy-to-read gauge makes using this a total breeze.
Mini pumps are small enough to sit snugly any bike, even the dual-suspension ones that would not come with a full-size frame pump. You keep a mini pump with you on the go to ensure no flats can leave you stranded in the middle of the road. But due to their size, you need to pump for a really long time to inflate a car tire to an acceptable level.
We recommend the SILCA Tattico Mini Pump. This small but powerful mini pump gives you the perfect bang for your buck. It comes with an extended hose that will help you pump freely without worrying if the line will get disconnected.
What’s the Type of Leak?
Depending on the type of leak your tire has, your approach to the problem will differ. If the leak is slow, you’re in luck. But if the leak is fast, chances are, you will have no luck with the bike pump method. What determines whether the leak is fast or slow? The width of hole in your tire.
For a tire that is leaking too fast, the only option would be to pump just as fast (if the tire can hold any air at all, that is). As soon as the car has enough air to carry you to a tire shop, stop and drive as fast as you can (be safe!).
Find the Right Tire Pressure for Your Car
Before attempting to pump the tire, the first thing you want to do is understand the target pressure. All cars come with the right tire pressure mentioned in at least 2 places. The tire pressure can often be found inscribed on the tire. If not, it’s possible the writing wore off over time or the particular tire brand does not mention tire pressure on the tire wall.
The next place to look is inside the driver’s door and the pressure should surely be mentioned there. Open the door on the driver’s side and take a look at the car’s frame. A sticker containing the necessary information will be found in the form of a chart/table.
This chart will mention the right tire pressure for the rear and front tires. Also, based on your geographic location, the air pressure unit will vary. It can be KPA, PSI or Bar. Note the differences in these values.
Measure the Current Tire Pressure
Now that you have the target air pressure figured out, measure the present air pressure to find out how much air has to be added. Simply enter the tire valve inside the pressure gauge, exert a bit of pressure and the gauge reading will increase.
For the ones who don’t own a pressure gauge, check if the bicycle pump comes with an attached pressure gauge. If yes, take the bike pump and put the valve into the hose’s receiving end.
This should give you a general reading of the tire’s pressure. If you don’t have a pump with a pressure gauge or a pressure gauge, your best shot is to keep inflating the tire till you feel it has enough air, bring it a tire shop and have professionals take a look at it.
How to Inflate a Car Tire with a Bike Pump?
In situations where you need to inflate your car tire but do not have access to an air compressor or gas station, you can use a bike pump. However, it’s best to only pump in enough air to get you to the nearest gas station.
To inflate a car tire with a bike pump, follow these steps:
- Find an adapter compatible with your car’s tire’s valve. Adapters on bike pumps are generally too big for a car’s tire. You can find adapters at most auto parts stores and hardware stores.
- A car is certainly heavier than a bicycle. Naturally, if you try to use the bike pump with the tire on, the process will be quite difficult. Use a jack to take off the tire or for better access to the tire, jack up your vehicle.
- Next, you will have to extract the valve stem cover from the tire. A valve stem cover is a little cap that sits on top of the valve. You can easily unscrew it with your fingers or get a flathead screwdriver for the job.
- Connect the adapter to the bike pump and ensure the connection is secure.
- Now you can start to pump up the tire. Keep in mind this will take a lot of effort and time considering you are using a tool not specified for use on cars. Based on the tire’s size, it can up to 20 minutes.
- When the tire is fully inflated, you can take off the adapter and change the valve stem cover. Screw it only tightly to stop any air from escaping the tire.
How Long Does It Take To Fill a Car Tire with a Bike Pump?
After considering all the different aspects of the process, pumping a tire manually using a bike pump can take up to 20 minutes. This is mainly because bicycle pumps cannot be used for prolonged periods as they tend to overheat.
Consider running to your nearest supermarket and purchasing an affordable 12V electric pump instead. Not only is this better for your car overall, but it will also take less time than the bike pump method. The AstroAI Air Compressor Tire Inflator is a great, cheap electric pump that can fill a tire from 30 PSI to 36 PSI in a minute.
Customers have claimed that it can get a tire from 0 PSI to 36 PSI in 5 minutes. The fast, easy-to-use electric pump will save you money and time in the long run.
Overall, the answer to “Can you use a bike pump on a car tire?” is yes. Just ensure that you use the proper type of bike pump for the job, and acknowledge that this procedure is lengthier than what you would have to face with an air compressor.
Just to be safe, never leave your house without a spare tire in the back or without a tire repair kit. Don’t rely on bike pumps because they are meant to be a temporary solution for when you’re in a pinch.