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How to Put Air in Your Tires

Mar 30, 2022

It's a fact of life: Car tires need to have air in them. But, how exactly do you go about putting air in your car's tires? Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Find An Air Dispenser

To put air in your tires, the first thing you’ll need to do is find an air compressor. Most gas stations will have these machines, and they often don’t cost very much to use. If you can't find a compressor at your local gas station, ask a cashier or attendant for their recommendation on where to find one. Some gas stations or car washes will even have free airavailable,1 which you can use for your vehicle.

Identify Your Car’s Recommended Pressure

Next, you’ll want to learn the recommended pressure for your front and back tires. You can find this information on a sticker inside your driver-side door or in your car’s manual. This sticker will show you the correct tire pressure at all four corners of your vehicle, as well as how much weight each tire can hold. Tire pressure is typically measured in pounds per square inch (PSI).

Remove the Tire Caps

Now, you’ll need to take off the caps from each of your tires so you can put air in them. Some caps screw off and others push down, but either way, they should come off rather easily. If you're having trouble getting them to come off by hand, you can use a special tire pressure key or a small screwdriver.

Add Air to Your Tires, Using a Gauge to Measure

Take the air gauge and place it onto the tire valve stem. Add pressure until the PSI reaches the recommended level on your sticker or in your manual. Make sure that each tire is at the correct air pressure level before you move on to the next one.

Put the Caps Back on the Tires

After all your tires have been properly filled with air, replace the caps on each tire. If you somehow misplace a tire cap, you can shop for a replacement at any automotive store or gas station.

How to Know When Your Tires Need Air

Most modern cars will have a sensor that alerts you when your tires need air. This sensor is called a tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS). If the light comes on and it's not an emergency, you can simply add air to your tires yourself. You also may notice that your vehicle is pulling to one side or that it feels like it's riding rough. When this happens, add air until your vehicle drives smoothly again. If your car still has a rough ride, it may be time to replace your tires. See [link: How to Tell if You Need New Tires] for more information.

When to Check Your Tires’ Air Pressure

We recommend checking your tire pressure monthly or before any long road trip. It’s also common for the tire pressure to change with the weather, so checking it after weather shifts is also recommended.

Why Does Tire Pressure Matter?

Tire pressure plays an important role in your safety and in the life of your tires. When you drive on underinflated tires, it's harder for them to grip the road, which can lead to slippage. Underinflating also increases the chances that a tire will blow out or get a puncture. Having your tires properly inflated can also be a great way to improve fuel efficiency as it allows your car to run more smoothly.

What if I Need to Replace My Tires?

If your tires are at the end of their life, or if you're starting to see signs of wear, you’ll need to replace them. In addition, if you're finding yourself stopping suddenly or having to turn the steering wheel pretty hard to compensate for a worn tire, then it might be time for new tires. Your local auto expert should be able to take a look at your tires and identify if they're no longer safe to use. If you’re in need of new tires but don’t want to pay in cash or use credit for new ones, Acima can help. Acima’s lease-to-own* program provides an ideal way for you to put new tires on your car without using credit.

Common Questions About Tires:

How long do tires last?

How long your tires last can vary greatly, depending on usage and driving conditions. Factors that play a role in how long your tires last includes: how much you drive, the tire's tread wear, inflation pressure, type of driving surface (paved roads vs. dirt roads), terrain (mountains vs. flatland), and how often the tires are rotated. A tire’s average life expectancy falls somewhere between five and eight years.

How often should you rotate your tires?

You should rotate your tires every 5,000 miles or so. This will help them wear evenly and last longer.

When should you replace your tires?

The answer to when you should replace your tires is, unfortunately, not as simple as "every X amount of miles." In fact, the answer depends on a variety of factors, such as how much you drive, the wear on your tire treads, your tires’ inflation pressure, the type of driving surface, terrain, and how often your tires are rotated.

What does rotating your tires do?

Rotating your tires is a good way to make sure they wear evenly, and it's something you should do every 5,000 miles or so. When you rotate your tires, you move them from one side of the car to the other, and front to back. This helps ensure that all of the tires get an equal amount of wear.

What is “routine maintenance” on a car?

Routine maintenance includes checking the air pressure in your tires, changing your oil and making sure you have enough windshield wiper fluid. It's also important to check that all of your lights are working, for safety purposes.

How much should I budget for car maintenance?

The cost of routine car maintenance can vary depending on your vehicle. How often you need to get these services done, the type of service required and how complex it is all factor into the final price of keeping your car running smoothly.

Is car maintenance necessary?

Yes, car maintenance is important for a number of reasons. Not only does it ensure that your car runs smoothly, but it's also necessary for your safety. Checking your air pressure, changing your oil and making sure all your lights are working are all important for car maintenance, and it’s necessary to do these things regularly to keep your car in good condition.

[1] https://www.freeairpump.com/map/ – FreeAirPump.com