Can You Pump A Car Tire With A Bike Pump?

Finding yourself on the side of the road with a flat tire is one of the most helpless feelings you can have. Want to know a worse feeling? Realizing your spare tire is flat! After looking around your vehicle you realize all you have is your bike pump, but can it pump a car tire???

The quick answer to this is YES, you can pump a car tire with a bike pump!  But! Before you go out and start pumping away, there are some things to know. We have provided our knowledge about this and it’s all below. Read on! 

How To Pump A Car Tire With A Bike Pump

Bike Pump
Photo: OffroaderX

The first thing is first is make sure you have your bike pump in your vehicle at all times. Having a pump at home does you no good on the road!

Here are the steps to make sure you can pump up your car tire:

  1. If your tire is currently on the car’s axle, jack up the car to a height where most of the pressure of the vehicle is on the jack and not on the tire. It is not necessary to jack the vehicle to have the tire completely off the ground. 
  2. Attach the Schrader side of the bike pump to the tire’s valve and close the locking lever mechanism on it. 
  3. Pump away until your gauge tells you it’s at 32 to 36 psi. That is the typical range of pressure for cars and SUVs. It is always best to check the sidewall of your tire for pressure information.
    • After you have reached your desired pressure unlock and quickly remove the pump head so that air does not release out of the tire. Sometimes bike pumps can be tricky to remove from the valve and a lot of air can be released. 
    • If you have a tire pressure gauge then it’s best to double check your work and that your bike pump gauge is working. 
    • Stand back and admire your work because you just saved a lot of time and a little bit of money!

    How Long To Pump A Car Tire With A Bike Pump

    This question depends on a lot of things. If you have a hand-held pump it could be up to 10 to 15 minutes to get your tire to be properly inflated and even more if you are out of shape!

    But if you use a bike pump that has a stand and gauge attached then you can probably inflate most tires within 4 to 6 minutes of continually pumping. Add more time if you need breaks in between pump sessions.

    What Kind Of Bike Pump To Use For A Car Tire

    The best kind of bike pump to use would be a pump that is a stand, has a Schrader valve connection, and has a gauge to indicate what the pressure is at. 

    These are the best because you have a gauge that helps you quickly see where the tire pressure is at. Without one, you will be guessing and you will probably not inflate properly. If you have to use a tire pressure gauge this is going to take a lot more time because you will have to detach the pump head and check the tire pressure over and over. This not only takes time but you stand the chance of losing more air. 

    Bike Pump Pressure Gauge
    Bike Tire Pump Gauge – Photo: OffroaderX

    The pump stand is best because you know you are going to get a large volume of air into the tire at each pump. You can stand over it and allow your body weight to do a lot of the heavy pushing instead of relying on your muscles. 

    Bike Pump Standing Above
    Use your weight to pump the car tire – Photo: OffroaderX

    If you use a hand pump the volume of air is smaller. Plus, your upper body is going to be burnt out by the time you are done. 

    These types of pumps are going to cost about $20 and up. The cheaper ones will not have a gauge and will not be as durable. If you need a guide for a bike pump, check out this one from REI. This is a deep dive into bike pumps you have been warned!

    I have had my bike pump for over 12 years now and it is still kicking! 

    Remember if you do have a flat and don’t have any tools to pump it up, try not to drive on it. Check out our article about that here.

    Anyone use a bike pump on their tires before?  Leave a comment below and let us know your experience and if you have any other tips to provide. 


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