cycling global logo
Home » Tips » Can You Use a Bike Pump on a Car Tire? [Yes or No]

Can You Use a Bike Pump on a Car Tire? [Yes or No]

Carlos Glover
September 14, 2022

Car tires and bike tires work through the same principle of being filled with air. So, as weird as it may sound, it is completely possible to use a bike pump to fill your car tire with air. You´ll need a schrader valve and it will take considerably more effort to inflate the wheel.

Knowing this technique could help if you suddenly have low tire pressure and there's no gas station or garage in sight. Every time I go out on a road trip, I always take a bike pump and a tire pressure gauge with me. You never know when it can come in handy and since they're small, they´re very easy to carry. If you like, you could also bring a portable air compressor instead of the pump.

In this article we´ll take a look at how to inflate car wheels with a bicycle pump and check out some of the best bike pumps in the market.

Inflate a Car Tire with a Bicycle Pump

Here's a guide to inflate a car tire by only using a bicycle pump:

Check Tire Pressure with Tire Gauge

Materials

What You´ll Have to Do

Step 1: Place Your Car on a Flat Surface

Placing your car on a flat surface will allow you to more easily balance and use your bicycle pump. If you don't have flat terrain next to you, just try to find a clear and stable space.

If you have a flat tire, you should try to move the car as little as possible, as you could damage the integrity of the tire.

Step 2: Remove the Tire Valve Cap

The next step will be to remove the tire´s valve cap or pivot. Generally, they can be found on the tire's sidewall. You´ll normally find it between the rim of the tire. To remove it, simply unscrew, and be gentle as the piece can be quite delicate.

Once removed, place the valve cap in a secure location, as it is quite tiny and can easily be lost.

Step 3: Check the Air pressure

Tire pressure is extremely important to check before pumping. You´ll need to know exactly how much air you´ll need to properly inflate the wheel, as too much or too little can damage the wheels. You can check the tire's air pressure by using a pressure gauge to measure the PSI. You´ll also find the desired tire pressure written on the tire or somewhere on the driver's door.

To measure the tire pressure, place the pressure gauge on top of the valve stem, press until you can´t hear air escaping. Most have an average PSI of between 25-35, but it can vary from model to model.

Step 4: Attach the Pump to the Tire Valve

There should be a small lever located close to the pump´s valve. This lever should be touching the tube, meaning it is open. Attach the bike pump´s tube to the tire valve and pull the lever to keep the tube in place. Make sure the tube is well-placed so air doesn't leak while inflating the tires.

When attaching the pump, it is completely normal to hear some escaping air. Don´t worry about this as you reflate the tire.

Step 5: Quick Recheck

Before you start pumping the tire, you should dot your I's and cross your T´s, check that everything is in place and properly secured. Check that the pump tube is in good condition and that no air is leaking out through it. This could really hinder your progress once you start.

Technician Removing Tire Valve

Step 6: Pump the Tire

Firstly, get in a comfortable position. Once you´re all set, start pumping the bar by doing up and downward movements. Try to do this at a constant pace. At first it will be easy, but after a while, your arms may grow tired.

Inflating an automobile tire with a pump is no joke. It takes around 20 minutes or more to get to a minimum PSI. You´ll have to continue to inflate until there´s enough air to reach the nearest station or garage. According to your situation, you might have to repeat it a couple of times until you reach your goal.

Step 7: Adjust the Tire Pressure Accordingly

Tire pressure is extremely important to keep your tire in good shape. To see if the wheel is sufficiently inflated, try pressing the tire with your finger. If the surface submerges, you definitely have more to go.

If the surface seems good, it is always ideal to recheck the air pressure by using a tire pressure gauge. This will tell you if you have the correct pressure, or if you need to adjust by letting some air escape or pumping some more air.

Make sure to have the tire pressure at the recommended psi.

Step 8: Remove the Pump

Once the tire is properly inflated, remove the bike pump valve and make sure that no air is coming out. Make sure that both valve caps are in a good state and closed.

If you like, with the help of your trusty pressure gauge, you can check the rest of the car tires have enough air.

Step 9: Get Going

If you have an air leak, you should move as fast as possible. With every minute that passes, your tire will be losing a bit more air. To avoid working in vain, as soon as you finish, start heading towards the nearest station or tire shop.

Some Important Details You´ll Need to Know

Before starting to inflate your car tire, check the current tire pressure. In case your tire is leaking air, see if it's a slow or fast leak. Use your pressure gauge to measure.

You´ll also be able to find out whether the tire's ideal pressure is written on the wall of the tire, or inside the driver's door. If you don't find it here, check the owner's manual, normally found in the glove compartment. Pay attention to the unit of measurement. It can either be PSI or kPa (KiloPascals - metric). To convert PSI into kilopascals multiply the PSI value by 6.89. For doing it the other way, just divide by the same amount.

To inflate your car tires, you´ll need a special pump valve. It must always be a Schrader valve, also known as an American valve.

Presta valves are also quite common, but they don't match car tire pivots. You´ll have to change the valve if you have a pump with a Presta valve.

You can identify a Schrader valve by its characteristic small metal pin in the middle of the opening, you can simply screw it on the tire's valve.

As a general tip, you shouldn't use road bike pumps because they are generally smaller. You´ll want a pump with a large cylinder, so the most amount of air comes into the tire. Make sure that the pump you use can withstand constant friction.

One of these pumps can inflate a bike tire to about 100 PSI in about a minute. Car tires are a whole different monster. It´ll take about 25 minutes to get it to 20 PSI.

Car Tire Pressure Control

Similarities and Differences Between Car and Bike Tires

Like bike wheels, most car tires are made of rubber and are inflated with air to properly function. However, there are many critical differences between the tires. Here are some of them:

Similarities

  • The main component is rubber.
  • The tire works by the same principle of being filled by air.

Differences

  • There are distinct differences in the compounds used to make the tires. Furthermore, the tire´s profiles are unique as every vehicle handles itself uniquely.
  • A bike generally operates with two tires, cars use four. This can also create huge differences within the design of each tire.
  • Car tires are much wider than bike tires.
  • Normally, a car tire is inflated with air from an air compressor. Bike tires are inflated with bicycle pumps.
  • A bike tire will need to be inflated to a higher PSI (pounds per square inch) than a car tire.
  • Every vehicle's tires are specifically designed to work in conjunction with other systems in the vehicle, such as the suspension or brakes. This also creates differences in the tires in relation to the uniqueness of each vehicle.
  • The cars are shaped differently. Therefore, the rims will also not be the same.

Now that you know that these tires are so different, how can you use a bicycle pump to inflate the tires?

Essentially, a car tire needs air to work, just like a bike. This makes it possible to use a bike pump, so long as it can withstand the friction of pumping. You´ll also need to make sure that your bike pump has a Schrader valve to adapt to the car´s pivot.

When Can You Inflate a Car Tire with a Bike Pump?

Inflating a car tire with a bike pump is possible. However, it is not entirely ideal. There are some situations where it comes in handy or be one of the few options you have.

Tires can get damaged without you knowing. You might come home at night and realize you have a flat tire next morning, with air escaping through the tire. If you don't have a spare tire, inflating it with a bike pump could be a good solution before you take your car to the nearest gas station, without damaging the tire.

If you´re going on a road trip to a place where there isn't much infrastructure, it might be good to take a bicycle pump with you.

Recommendations

If it's a really hot day, take a break every few minutes. Otherwise, the pump bar might overheat and crack.

Keep all your tires in tip-top shape for the best fuel efficiency. Keeping your tires properly inflated will also allow them to last longer.

Before inflating, double check that you have all the materials within reach and that they are in a good state. Otherwise, You might waste a lot of effort and time.

Best Bike Pumps in the Market

Here are some recommendations for the best bicycle pumps on the market. These should take care of any challenge your bike or car tire might face.

Check out more tips & tricks

Conclusion

Using a bike pump to inflate a car tire is absolutely possible. To do it, you´ll need some other materials such as a Schrader valve, a tire gauge to know how much pressure is needed and an air tube in good condition.

By following these steps you´ll be able to inflate your tire with a bike pump, should the need ever arise. Luckily, a bike pump could always be a great solution because they are fairly small and therefore portable.

Finally, even if you aren't particularly gifted with auto repairs, this is easy to do. However, keep in mind that inflating a car tire will take more time and physical effort when doing it with a bike pump.

Carlos Glover
About the Author
I took up cycling in high school and haven’t looked back since. My love of cycling eventually evolved into an obsession with bicycles. From road bikes to mountain bikes, I have tried them all – and have the scars to prove it! I love sharing my findings with the rest of the cycling world as unsolicited as they may be.
Related posts:
Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Cycling Global is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon (.com, .co.uk, .ca etc) and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Copyright © 2022 · Cycling Global · All Rights Reserved