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The Best Tire Pressure Gauges, Whether You Need to Inflate, Deflate, or Just Get a Reading

Take care of your vehicle, and it will take care of you.

best tire pressure gauges
Staff, Courtesy of Jaco

Whether you’re a daily commuter, a track day fanatic, or an overland adventurer, tire pressure is extremely important. You’ve likely heard the phrase “take care of your vehicle and it will take care of you,” from your mechanic. And they’re right. Improperly inflated tires (that have either too much air or not enough) can wear more quickly, lower your fuel efficiency, and impede the ride quality and handling of your vehicle. While most quick-change tire shops will give you a cheap pencil-style gauge as a party favor, we’ve selected five proper gauges that will vastly improve your next air-up or air-down.

What to Consider

Contrary to popular belief, tire pressure gauges–also referred to as tire deflators in some cases–can actually get quite complicated. If you’re a daily driver looking to gradually step up your maintenance routine, you should go with a basic gauge, which will give you a precise reading and the ability to take some air out if you get trigger happy with the compressor at your local gas station. Don’t spend more than $25 if this sounds like you. However, if you participate in extracurricular automotive activities, you should go for the fancier gauges with digital displays and the ability to add air. Say you regularly need to take some air out of your tires, whether for a day on the trail or at the track; a couple of the more expensive units here can air down faster than others.

How We Selected

As a lifelong automotive enthusiast, I’ve developed a deep understanding of how tires function on the road, on the race track, and off piste. I relied on that knowledge to help narrow down the contenders, taking into account things like the number of functions each gauge has, the quality of the construction, how readable the dial/screen is, and so on. I also consulted expert reviews from the likes of Winding Road Racing and Overlander, along with customer ratings on retailer sites such as Amazon to find the best gauges to suit your needs.

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Best Overall
ARB ARB601 Digital Tire Pressure Gauge

While the ARB601 is the most expensive unit by a considerable margin, it brings the functionality to back it up. Unlike any of the other gauges, this one can inflate, deflate, and check tire pressures. Bonus: The backlit LCD screen will be easy to read at any time of the day in various levels of light.

Fastest Air-Down
ARB ARB505 E-Z Deflator Kit Tire Pressure Gauge

ARB has a tremendous off-road pedigree, arming enthusiasts with bullet-proof gear since 1975. This unit is no exception, with a bronze Bourdon gauge, a braided steel hose, and solid-brass construction. The chuck on the ARB505 can also temporarily remove the valve core, allowing for much faster air-down times.

Best Value
Jaco Elite Digital Series Tire Pressure Gauge

This Jaco tire pressure gauge presents great value for the relatively expansive list of features it offers. Along with its backlit digital display, the Elite features a 360-degree adjustable chuck–including a rapid air bleeder–that can rotate for optimal contact with the valve stem. All of the fittings feature solid-brass construction, and the body of the gauge is reinforced using a rubberized shield. While the digital display is a great addition, it runs on two AAA batteries, so be sure to keep them fresh lest you’re left with no reading when you need it the most.

Easiest To Use
Viair 00032 Air Down Gauge

While Viair is best known for its top-notch air compressors, this gauge-deflator combo from the industry giant shares the same fit and finish. It isn’t the fastest to deflate, but the twist-on chuck eliminates any guesswork when connecting to the valve stem.

Best Budget Option
AstroAI 60-PSI Tire Pressure Gauge

While this gauge is the most affordable here, it isn’t lacking very many features. The chuck features the same 360-degree swivel and rapid-air bleeder as the Jaco, and all of the fittings are also made of solid brass. Sure, it does have an analog dial instead of a digital display, which many would argue is a downgrade. But it eliminates the worst-case scenario of batteries going dead.

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