Very low tech-- can you pump a car tire with a bike pump?

Discussion in 'General' started by desdemona, Oct 26, 2007.

  1. desdemona

    desdemona Well-Known Member

    I got one of these fancy foot pump things (looks like it has a compressor but does not). Actually got it for an exercise ball. But I wondered. I always have someone put air in my tires for not wanting to squat down (I have sciatica-- though i have had little problem with it lately).
    They do not like to pump it past the max sidewall (or even there). But I have been assured I could pump it up a little more.

    Anyway, this thing has a psi to 100 gauge on it. I think it is for bike tires. But I wondered if it could be used for adding a few lbs. to a car tire (just to top it off, so to speak). Just add a couple more lbs.?

    Is it doable. It is easy to pump the ball with this, but I have no experience pumping a tire.

  2. ILAveo

    ILAveo Well-Known Member

    If its valve is compatible with your tire's (and it probably is) it would work, but your car tire has a lot more volume than the usual exercise ball or bike tire. You would need to be patient and ready to get some exercise from pumping.
  3. SSixty

    SSixty Gas Miser

    Hi Des,
    I had a similar foot pump at least a dozen years ago and I found it incredibly inconvenient. My pump never liked to stay planted on the ground and would tip over with the slightest pressure of the foot. I would say, "Give it a try", but don't expect much. It should be good for 45psi I would think.
  4. BailOut

    BailOut My favorite holiday is Earth Day!

    While this will probably work and I applaud you for the manual effort I must point out that most auto and variety stores sell little 12V compressors for $10-$20. We have 2 of them and they work perfectly and make it so easy to pump up the tires that I've become religious about monitoring them.

    Back in the days of squatting in a dirty gas station parking lot pumping quarters into a machine that only worked half the time, and whose pressure gauge worked even less often, I had to psyche myself up for it.

    Now I just mosey out into the garage, turn on the television out there, and enjoy myself while I nonchalantly make the rounds of the tires.
  5. SSixty

    SSixty Gas Miser

    Hi Brian,
    I used my 12V compressor earlier today as a matter of fact. One of the greatest things I ever bought from the convenience standpoint. Came as a set when I bought Slime. Goop, compressor and tire pressure gauge for $15.
  6. tarabell

    tarabell Well-Known Member

    I thought I remembered Sean (RLC) using a bike pump also. And we probably have one buried in the garage somewhere. I would think that or a cheap compressor like Brian's should be perfect for just upping a tire--but definitely not for filling a flat. I'll have to go excavating....
  7. basjoos

    basjoos Well-Known Member

    I use an old style hand pump to keep the tires topped off on all of my vehicles. Have never liked the 12V air compressors because of their high noise level and propensity to break. And their performance isn't much faster than that of a hand pump.
  8. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Tarabell is correct -- I do use a hand powered bicycle pump -- the kind with a tall, vertical, compression cylinder and a t-bar handle on it. I used to use a foot pump on the '70 VW Bug, but it was pretty flimsy. Recently I bought another when the hand pump I was using proved itself unreliable, but it self destructed in under 5 min due to the behavior that Joe described. My old one wasn't very strong but I used it for several years without it breaking.

    Like Basjoos, I prefer to pump by hand. ;)

    When I bought my new pump (another hand powered one) I also picked up a very small compressor that will fit in the glove compartment and tossed it in the trunk. I won't use it unless the bicycle pump doesn't work, but at least I have redundancy now. I only paid $7 for the pump and $13 for the compressor at Walmart.
  9. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    I use a vertical bicycle pump for my car tires.The Prius-185/65 15 I think-takes about 6 pumps per psi in the 25-35 psi range.My Titan tires-245/75 17 took about 10-13 pumps per psi.Avoid the pumps with a large diameter cylinder ;they give waaaay too little mechanical advantage for big car tires that are going to take 100+ pumps.Pumping 200 pumps isn't so bad if the pumps don't take a lot of effort, but 50 high effort pumps wear you out.
    PS My cheapo $12 cigarette lighter pump just can't get over about 35psi.It gets as hot as a firecracker also.
    Last edited: May 12, 2008
  10. locutus

    locutus MPG Centurion

    I use a vertical pump that you brace with your feet and it has a little compression tube and a T-handle. It works but it does take a while. I also have a 12V compressor which gets the job done as well, in about the same amount of time.
  11. MnFocus

    MnFocus hanging member :)

    Count me in as a bike pump supporter . The 'old cheapy' with an air compressor spring chuck has been very handy to have but is having a hard time with the higher psi's . Just recieved 3 mini foot pumps this a.m. Small enough to fit in the center armrest.3 models with 70-280 psi capable and (bargain shoppers will appreciate this) on *Clearance* for about $10 *shipped* . Even these will be modded with spring chucks - idiot proof enough for even *Me*!!
  12. hobbit

    hobbit He who posts articles

    See the pump comments in the second part of this.
    With car tires, it's just a question of volume; since you
    typically push upwards of 100 PSI into bicycle tires with
    these things, that's not the main obstacle!
  13. GrendelKhan

    GrendelKhan Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I tried to find it on my own (about half an hour searching), but I can't find it.

    Anyone remember a post a while back, with a pic or 2 of a user's air pump? It was a vertical T type, and whitish/grayish. It might have been a little pricey, but it looked like it would work really well (better than my leaky $8 foot pump). I lost the link, and haven't thought of it since, but I'd like to take another look. When I was younger, I would simply remember the name. Those days are gone apparently...

    Thanks in advance.
  14. desdemona

    desdemona Well-Known Member

    Thanks, this is not a cheap pump, btw. I payed way more for it than what I was looking for, some bellows type pump for the ball. This is about a foot long, feels heavy. However, I am not altogether sure that there is a proper tire "nozzle" for it. There is a ball needle one (which isn't quite for an exercise ball, though it works) and another type which is for tires.

    I didn't have in mind going from flat to full, but what happens is this. The tires go down so I am taking it to my mechanic who will pump them but never over max tire pressure (35psi on these). Several people suggested I could go over that but I don't want to argue with my mechanic who I feel is really quite good and honest. So I thought I could top off another couple pounds and see if that helps me any. I am not sure how far I would go anyway as they are cheap tires.

    I don't mind exercise, I think i could consider it part of my strength training. But perhaps the hand type pump would work providing you could step on them. I used the hand pump for water rockets and never got them to work as I couldn't stablize them.

    If I could find a cheap compressor that might be better and would probably do the exercise ball in about 10 seconds. One question though, with a compressor how to do you get the air?
    Do you buy it?

    BTW, Hobbit, I enjoyed your pix.


  15. MnFocus

    MnFocus hanging member :)

    I've got the skills , I wish I had the tools: hand pump to end all hand pumps

    I did a rather quick informal test of two of the three minifoot pumps yesterday .

    They are very well designed (German design so yeah ) and surprisingly well built given the price tag. Come with adapter to fill other items and a nice storage bag - that incidently has the proper straps to attach it to transport of the two wheeled persuasion. I see one major drawback (for me) Made in China ...take that info with a grain of salt. They do seem to work well despite the rotten valve chuck. My advice :remove the chuck and throw it away! Then replace it with an air compressor spring chuck/adapter (adds @ $6 to the cost) . The Mini and Air Rev added air to auto tire fairly effortlessly.Using leg muscles is much easier than back and shoulders. Balancing like a Flamingo is awkward but not too tough.
    As hobbit referred to ,there is not alot of volume through a small pump like this. It took me 10-12 pumps to add 2.5-3 psi to the 65 psi already there (which is better than the 1.5 psi from 'old cheapy') . I like them !
  16. lamebums

    lamebums Member

    Am I the only guy out there who bought an industrial-sized compressor that runs off electric current from the house and can run up to 200psi? :eek:
  17. warthog1984

    warthog1984 Well-Known Member

    1) You can buy long-stroke bike hand pumps with foot rests for ~$25-$50.

    2) You do not buy air for a compressor. Essentially it is a mini-engine with an externally powered crankshaft that sheds its energy by exhausting the compressed air at the top of stroke, where an ICE would have the spark plugs ignite, instead of driving a crankshaft like an ICE.
  18. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Nope -- though mine has a car battery inside so it is portable. ;)
  19. mtbiker278

    mtbiker278 Biotech Researcher

    during the warmer of the three seasons I usually have a bike strapped to my car for the after work ride. Bike pumps work well for topping off your pressure, but if you have to fill a tire from 30psi up to 45psi it'll take you a good amount of effort.
  20. koreberg

    koreberg Junior Member

    When I was about 12 I helped my dad pump up a flat tire on our full size van, with a hand pump. I remember it taking a long time.

    Now I use a 12 volt pump with a built in gauge and double check it with a digital gauge. It hasn't caused me any problems starting the car yet, so i'll probably keep on doing it that way.

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