Author Topic: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump  (Read 32056 times)

jtmoney

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Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« on: November 01, 2012, 07:12:43 PM »
Maybe this is common knowledge, but I recently figured out that you can pump up your car tires using a bike pump!  I guess I always knew that the valve was the same size (for a schrader valve) but I never really thought about it.  This seems totally mustachian to me.

1) Muscle over motor.

2) Keep your tires aired up for better gas mileage.

3) Save $$ by keeping your quarters out of those air machines.

I guess it makes sense since your car tires only need about 40 psi, and bikes tires need 75+ psi.  Anyway, not a huge money saver, but just thought I'd share.

jtmoney

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2012, 07:15:58 PM »
Plus by now we all have bike pumps since we all own bikes :)

D-T

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2012, 07:59:34 PM »
I've done this it just takes a really long time. At least you'd get a good workout over it!

I just go to the one gas station near me that offers free air when you buy gas. Also I've seen signs at Firestone where they'll fill your tires for free.

madage

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2012, 08:35:34 PM »
It definitely will take a long time and give you a good shoulder workout. I usually look for gas stations that will give me free air when I fill-up, or sometimes just when I ask really nicely.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2012, 03:59:22 AM by madage »

gooki

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2012, 02:25:50 AM »
Jeepers, this is a culture shock to me. Every gas station I've ever been to in NZ offers free air to anyone who pulls up.

If you have a good bike pump it doesn't take all that long. I did all 4 tires with a bike pump on my Lada Niva before I sold it.

Haifisch

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2012, 05:36:22 AM »
If you don't own a bike pump for whatever reason, there are also portable tire inflators you can buy that plug into the 12V sockets/cigarette lighters in your car. You can get a basic one for $10-15, so it's about the same price as a bike pump, but you save yourself an arm workout. (which I guess might be a disadvantage for some people :)) It pays for itself after 10-15 uses, and you'll never encounter those pesky situations where multiple tires need air and the pump requires an extra payment before you get around to filling all of them!

CB

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2012, 09:49:03 AM »
Jeepers, this is a culture shock to me. Every gas station I've ever been to in NZ offers free air to anyone who pulls up.

Same here, though I'm in the U.S.  I've never lived in an area that didn't have free air at gas stations. 

I, too, use a bike pump to pump up my car tires.  You're supposed to measure pressure cold so the best place to properly measure inflation is in your own garage.

skyrefuge

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2012, 09:58:56 AM »
Jeepers, this is a culture shock to me.

heh...it was a shock to me, but for the opposite reason.  I've almost never used an electric gas-station pump to fill my tires, so I just sort of assumed most people use a bike pump at home.  In fact, we probably shouldn't even call them "bike pumps", since surely through much of automotive history, people used hand pumps to fill their tires (and their basketballs and volleyballs!); it's only once electric gas-station pumps became ubiquitous that the standard hand pump was relegated to being just a "bike pump".

It does certainly take more time and effort than it takes to manually fill a bike tire, but it's good Mustaschian exercise, and at least if you're just topping-off, should take like 30 seconds per tire.  For me, it's just more convenient to do it at home in my garage anyway.

Ironically, I think the only time I've used electric gas-station pumps in the last decade is for my bicycle tires!  When I'm out on bike tours, I carry a mini-pump with me, but it can't pump the tires to a very high pressure, so if I have a flat, I'll try to hit a gas station in the next day or two to "finish" the job.  When I did this in California a couple months ago, the sign taped to the side of the compressor informed me that there's actually a California law requiring that the air is free for customers who buy gas.  Of course I still had to pay my quarter!

cambridgecyclist

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2012, 01:24:50 PM »
I did this last weekend... it took me less time to use the bike pump to top off four tires (two from 28->34 psi) than it did to drive to the gas station to use their air!

Matte

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2012, 08:13:43 AM »
Like posted above just buy gas or something in thesaurus store and thesaurus air is free.  Some have a code to enter on the side of the machine, you can always write this down for future reference.

grantmeaname

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2012, 07:31:13 AM »
What is this thesaurus thing? It's popped up here on the forums a couple times now and I don't even have a vague guess as to what it is if it's not a book that lists synonyms and antonyms of words you look up.

arebelspy

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2012, 07:53:19 AM »
I'm guessing from context it's a NZ or AUS or something equivalent to a Chevron.
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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2012, 02:40:16 PM »
I use a small (2 gallon tank) compressor to air up my tires, or blow stuff down. I need to figure out this air-driven angle-grinder.

madage

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2012, 06:36:05 PM »
I did this last weekend... it took me less time to use the bike pump to top off four tires (two from 28->34 psi) than it did to drive to the gas station to use their air!

Yep, I did it today and it was a lot quicker than I figured. With my pump I found out I add about 0.20 to 0.25 PSI per stroke. I also discovered my hand pump's analog gauge is pretty accurate - it matched pretty well with my handheld digital gauge.

JJ

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2012, 09:08:07 PM »
I'm guessing from context it's a NZ or AUS or something equivalent to a Chevron.
Not AUS.  Free air at the servo (servo=service station=gas station).
I use a manual pump most of the time anyway - don't have to drive anywhere and the tyres (=tires) are cold so you know you have the right amount of air in.  If you have a slow leak it's a great way to keep fit.  And yes, the pump works great for bike tyres too.

The only downer with muscle powered pumps is that by and large the quality of what you can buy is extremely poor.  My folks used to have a one from the 1950s - beautifully made.  You needed to grease the leather washer from time to time and that was about it for another decade.  I've been through 3-4 over the last decade and they just feel crappy to use in comparison.

carolinakaren

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2012, 03:46:12 AM »
I used my bike pump last night to pump up my tires.  I purposely bought the one that is a foot pump so it would be more versatile for the cars and such.

TomTX

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2012, 05:29:58 AM »
I'm guessing from context it's a NZ or AUS or something equivalent to a Chevron.
Not AUS.  Free air at the servo (servo=service station=gas station).
I use a manual pump most of the time anyway - don't have to drive anywhere and the tyres (=tires) are cold so you know you have the right amount of air in.  If you have a slow leak it's a great way to keep fit.  And yes, the pump works great for bike tyres too.

The only downer with muscle powered pumps is that by and large the quality of what you can buy is extremely poor.  My folks used to have a one from the 1950s - beautifully made.  You needed to grease the leather washer from time to time and that was about it for another decade.  I've been through 3-4 over the last decade and they just feel crappy to use in comparison.

I have to agree on the quality issue. Modern hand (bike) pumps tend to be quite poor quality. At the moment I do have a decent (not great) one, but the compressor still gets more use.

Matt K

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2012, 12:33:12 PM »
I've only ever used a stand (as opposed to small hand pump) bike pump to pump up my tires. I find it is faster than those silly 12v pumps that take forever. 25 pumps gets me about 5 psi. Even when I swap on my winter tires it only takes 30ish pumps to get them back tp proper 32psi.

The best I've ever used was a foot pump (actually meant for inflating car tires, but I used it on my bikes because it worked so fast). It was my dad's but when the seals on it went he replaced it with a silly electric pump, and I went back to the bicycle pump.

JJ

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2012, 06:38:29 PM »
I'm guessing from context it's a NZ or AUS or something equivalent to a Chevron.
Not AUS.  Free air at the servo (servo=service station=gas station).
I use a manual pump most of the time anyway - don't have to drive anywhere and the tyres (=tires) are cold so you know you have the right amount of air in.  If you have a slow leak it's a great way to keep fit.  And yes, the pump works great for bike tyres too.

The only downer with muscle powered pumps is that by and large the quality of what you can buy is extremely poor.  My folks used to have a one from the 1950s - beautifully made.  You needed to grease the leather washer from time to time and that was about it for another decade.  I've been through 3-4 over the last decade and they just feel crappy to use in comparison.

I have to agree on the quality issue. Modern hand (bike) pumps tend to be quite poor quality. At the moment I do have a decent (not great) one, but the compressor still gets more use.
I was inspired to look for a better quality one.  Looks like there's a german company making them the old-fashioned way still: http://myworld.ebay.com.au/pumpenmanufaktur/?_trksid=p4340.l2559.  I've just sent them an email to see if they work fine for cars too.  Feedback for the seller suggests good quality. 

capital

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2012, 12:22:24 PM »
I'm guessing from context it's a NZ or AUS or something equivalent to a Chevron.
Not AUS.  Free air at the servo (servo=service station=gas station).
I use a manual pump most of the time anyway - don't have to drive anywhere and the tyres (=tires) are cold so you know you have the right amount of air in.  If you have a slow leak it's a great way to keep fit.  And yes, the pump works great for bike tyres too.

The only downer with muscle powered pumps is that by and large the quality of what you can buy is extremely poor.  My folks used to have a one from the 1950s - beautifully made.  You needed to grease the leather washer from time to time and that was about it for another decade.  I've been through 3-4 over the last decade and they just feel crappy to use in comparison.

I have to agree on the quality issue. Modern hand (bike) pumps tend to be quite poor quality. At the moment I do have a decent (not great) one, but the compressor still gets more use.
I spent a bit of extra money on a higher-end one:
http://www.amazon.com/Lezyne-Steel-Floor-Drive-Black/dp/B005UND3CY/ref=sr_1_24?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1352229219&sr=1-24&keywords=lezyne+pump
It's a big heavy hunk of steel, aluminum, and wood as opposed to plastic ones. It feels nice.

The company claims the pumps are rebuildable & has replacement parts available:
http://www.lezyne.com/support/warranty
I haven't had to test their claim yet, which is good.

Silca pumps also have the reputation of lasting forever when maintained:
http://www.amazon.com/Silca-Super-Pista-Floor-Pump/dp/B007FNAOZG

madage

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #20 on: November 07, 2012, 07:26:30 AM »
Silca pumps also have the reputation of lasting forever when maintained

My dad has had a Silca for 15+ years. Don't know that he ever did any maintenance on it, but I know it's still working great. His is a compression head, which appears similar to the link above from ehgee, and you just have to make sure you push the head down far enough on the valve.

I personally use a metal Specialized floor pump I purchased around 2004. It works well and has a head that fits both Presta and Schrader valves without any parts to swap around.

tonysemail

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #21 on: March 21, 2016, 10:57:24 AM »
thanks OP for this piece of advice.

I've been thinking of buying a $15 air compressor for this purpose.
But I searched the forums to see what other folks do and found this thread.
I gave it a try over the weekend and it works great.
I saved $15 and got some exercise for my shoulders.

JoRocka

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #22 on: March 21, 2016, 11:08:21 AM »
Free air at wawa- vs spending 15 minutes pumping up my tires.

Eh.

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #23 on: March 21, 2016, 11:18:46 AM »
It takes about 2-3 minutes per tire on our car with my bike floor pump when I swap over the winter tires.  That's 8-12 minutes total . . . which is probably slightly less than it would take for me to drive down to the local gas station and fork over 1$ to use their compressor.

It's even less time the rest of the year to top them up.  I've had no problems with failure in five years using Nashbar's L'Orange floor pump.

Cycling Stache

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #24 on: March 21, 2016, 11:37:05 AM »
OP, thank you for posting this!  I'm embarrassed to say that this had never occurred to me despite the fact that I pump up my bike tires all the time, have a good pump, and have a hard time finding any gas station that has air anymore, much less air for free.

acroy

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #25 on: March 21, 2016, 11:55:14 AM »
hehehe,
you mean like this?
Been doing this since my 1st car. shown here pumping up a 1-ton tire to 80psi! Got your tricep workout right here! :)

frugalcanuck

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #26 on: November 19, 2016, 02:51:31 PM »
I have been doing this since I have owned a car.  My neighbors always offer me their compressor and I always have to remind them that I have my own but the bike pump is quicker and easier.

Rubic

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #27 on: November 19, 2016, 05:12:53 PM »
Yep, I do this.  I always carry my bicycle tire pump in the trunk of
my car.  I've also owned the 12V portable air compressors, but they've
been less reliable.

I once pumped up an co-worker's flat tire in the parking lot.  She had
a slow leak, so pumping it up to 35 psi gave her enough inflation to
drive out to the local tire shop.

Metric Mouse

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #28 on: November 20, 2016, 03:54:47 AM »
I've only ever used a stand (as opposed to small hand pump) bike pump to pump up my tires. I find it is faster than those silly 12v pumps that take forever. 25 pumps gets me about 5 psi. Even when I swap on my winter tires it only takes 30ish pumps to get them back tp proper 32psi.

The best I've ever used was a foot pump (actually meant for inflating car tires, but I used it on my bikes because it worked so fast). It was my dad's but when the seals on it went he replaced it with a silly electric pump, and I went back to the bicycle pump.

God, I have a small 2.5 gallon electric one. Takes about 5 minutes of high-pitched running to build up enough pressure and air to fill a tire 5 pounds.  A foot pump would probably be superior in that it would take less time and be much less annoying to use (have to park within reach of an outlet).  Maybe I'll treat myself for Christmas.  Everytime I power that pump on I shudder...

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #29 on: November 20, 2016, 04:45:17 AM »
I had no idea a bicycle pump was capable of doing this!  Thanks, everybody!  The nearest tire center with an air pump to me is 5 miles away.  By the time I get there, the heat of driving has increased tire pressure 3-4 psi.

I am smiling at what I have learned this morning.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #30 on: November 20, 2016, 07:28:55 AM »
I pumped up our 95 PSI RV truck tires with a bike pump and about died from exhaustion.

Metric Mouse

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #31 on: November 20, 2016, 08:20:51 AM »
I pumped up our 95 PSI RV truck tires with a bike pump and about died from exhaustion.

What's the opposite of a facepunch? You deserve one because this is a pretty badass feat!

GuitarStv

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #32 on: November 20, 2016, 09:14:01 AM »
Woah.  95 psi?  That's crazy high for a vehicle with big tires.  Most skinny road tires don't go much past 100 psi.

Slee_stack

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #33 on: November 21, 2016, 01:38:21 PM »
I use a compressor.  They are almost a necessity when mounting tubeless bike tires.  You can use a hand pump to mount a tubeless, but it can be a super PITA.

I forget how much the compressor cost.  It wasn't much at all and I've had it for a decade.

Metric Mouse

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #34 on: November 21, 2016, 02:21:05 PM »
I use a compressor.  They are almost a necessity when mounting tubeless bike tires.  You can use a hand pump to mount a tubeless, but it can be a super PITA.

I forget how much the compressor cost.  It wasn't much at all and I've had it for a decade.

I could see how this makes sense.

Syonyk

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #35 on: November 21, 2016, 07:54:40 PM »
Woah.  95 psi?  That's crazy high for a vehicle with big tires.  Most skinny road tires don't go much past 100 psi.

Not really...  My truck tires run 90psi empty, and I run the rears at rated pressure of 110 psi when I'm towing or heavy.

I use a bike pump for the bicycles and the motorcycles.  I might use a bike pump for the car tires, though the car currently doesn't lose much air.  And for my truck tires?  Oh hell no.  I understand, in theory, that I can get 19.5" high pressure truck tires pumped to 90psi or 110psi with a bike pump, but... no.  Just... no.

I have an air compressor, and I'll damned well use an air compressor for a job like that.  I specifically have a 150psi compressor so I can do my truck tires when I need to bump them from 90psi to 110psi.  They're large (not swampers or anything, just 19.5" highway tires).

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #36 on: November 21, 2016, 10:21:38 PM »
This is a great idea. I always knew that the bike pump can produce enough pressure to inflate the car tires, but also always assumed that the volume of air required was too high to be worth it. Looks like I was wrong! This will save a lot of time.

Best of all, my kids LOVE using the bike pump to maintain the air pressure in their bikes, so I can enlist them to keep the car tires inflated too.

Now to inflate the tires in the jets I fly... is a different story! They go up to 217 psi! I wouldn't be able to do that even putting my entire weight on the bike pump. The cylinder diameter is a little more than an inch and I only weigh 160. Maybe if I put the pump in a squat rack.

Space shuttle tires were inflated to 340 psi. They replaced them after every landing. As a result there are lots of space shuttle tires in museums, planetariums etc. I read somewhere that NASA values the used tires at only $250, which is astonishing to me.

Something cool: You can weigh a vehicle with a tire pressure gauge and a ruler. Measure the dimensions of tire surface in contact with the ground (easy way to do this is slide a pice of paper under either side of the tire until it stops, then measure the space between papers) then multiply to calculate the surface area.... then measure tire pressure, multiply, and add up the tires.

This explains why heavy trucks, that nonetheless may only have four wheels just like small trucks, must have higher tire pressure if heavily loaded, lest the tires deform unacceptably.

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #37 on: November 22, 2016, 07:22:51 AM »
OP, thank you for posting this!  I'm embarrassed to say that this had never occurred to me despite the fact that I pump up my bike tires all the time, have a good pump, and have a hard time finding any gas station that has air anymore, much less air for free.

Same! I'll be trying this next time my tires need air. There's no free air around here.

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #38 on: November 22, 2016, 07:51:04 AM »
I tried it, and found it awkward to use, so gave the bicycle pump to the family to use for their...well...bicycles. There is another thread somewhere on this. I bought a small compressor, but it broke the first time I used it--I  took it back to the auto parts place and got a refund. Goodyear is around the corner from me, and they  top off my tires for free on five minutes or so notice, but I'm a regular customer there.  When I'm not in the local area, I just use the air pumps at the gas station/minimart places.

A little off-topic, but it relates: my tire pressure monitor warning light wouldn't go off on the dashboard, even though I knew the tires were inflated to the correct psi. Turns out the spare tire was a little low. (Who would even think of that?) When the car place topped off the spare tire (I had the car in there for something else), the dashboard warning light finally went off.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #39 on: November 22, 2016, 09:25:59 PM »
I've done this with tires for a riding lawn mower. It was pretty easy and a good workout.

Metric Mouse

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #40 on: November 23, 2016, 04:11:47 AM »
A little off-topic, but it relates: my tire pressure monitor warning light wouldn't go off on the dashboard, even though I knew the tires were inflated to the correct psi. Turns out the spare tire was a little low. (Who would even think of that?) When the car place topped off the spare tire (I had the car in there for something else), the dashboard warning light finally went off.

I've learned the hard way to check the spare tire every once in awhile. Not so much about air pressure, but after spending several hours in the dark with a hack-saw on a frozen mountain trying to get the spare out to put it on; a little preventative mtce. goes a long ways.

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #41 on: November 27, 2016, 06:29:14 AM »
Maybe this is common knowledge, but I recently figured out that you can pump up your car tires using a bike pump!  I guess I always knew that the valve was the same size (for a schrader valve) but I never really thought about it.  This seems totally mustachian to me.

1) Muscle over motor.

2) Keep your tires aired up for better gas mileage.

3) Save $$ by keeping your quarters out of those air machines.

I guess it makes sense since your car tires only need about 40 psi, and bikes tires need 75+ psi.  Anyway, not a huge money saver, but just thought I'd share.
Sounds like massively stepping over dollars to pickup nickels to me.  I would ask someone for a few quarters .   Its easier  .

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #42 on: November 27, 2016, 08:18:36 AM »
Remember as a medical student to someone else's car after they had neglected a slow leak so we could get to the hospital.  They had wanted to call a mechanic.

fredbear

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Re: Pumping up car tires with a bike pump
« Reply #43 on: November 27, 2016, 08:50:09 AM »
When we got off the Colorado we found our friend's VW Van flat-tired.  In the midsummer desert near Hite, UT, in the days when it was almost 80 miles of dirt either direction to the nearest pavement.  Since he ran his tires down to cord to save money, and there were plenty of rocks on those roads, it was disagreeable but not really a surprise.  He had one of those worm-insert patch kits and a bike pump.  He announced that since he had the pump, we had to use it: fair's fair.  So, it was maybe 105 - 110F, and while you may say you gain 0.2psi per pump, it's tricky to get the rim sealed all the way around before you start getting anything with the pump (if it matters, we used a circumferential rope with a trucker's hitch to squash it out against the rim), and there are still many pumpstrokes to get a completely flat tire up to pressure.  Many.

I got a couple things from this:

1) It's in the category with commuting on my bike 6 miles each way at -10F.  Done it. 
2) Saving and investment, but the greatest of these is investment.  Without that, you are in baby-bird territory: cheap, cheap.