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Can a Car Tire Be Inflated with a Bike Pump?

Can a Car Tire Be Inflated with a Bike Pump?

When your car tire is running low on air, you’ll do just about anything to get it filled back up – maybe even use a bike pump if needed! It’s unnerving to drive for any length of time with low air for concerns over causing more damage, and we’ll turn to just about anything to get it corrected ASAP!

But if you don’t have a gas station open around you at the time, or you are too scared to drive it to the station while the tire is low, you might think about using a bike pump to get the job done.  

Many people have talked about whether or not this actually works, or if it will cause any damage to your tire by driving on it after pumping it up with a bike pump. 

So, can a car tire be pumped up with a bike pump?

A bike pump that is compatible with Schrader valves can be used to pump up a car tire. Due to its low air volume, it will take considerably longer to inflate a car tire using a bike pump.

With that in mind, let’s walk through the potential risks and benefits of using a bike pump. 

bike pump

Can a Bike Pump Work on My Car Tires? 

The answer is, actually, yes!

Most standard bike tires are made with enough pressure in them to provide your tire with the air it needs so you can drive on it again.

However, because this is not the intended use for the bike pump, you will need to take a few precautions so that you don’t cause any damage. 

There is not a whole lot that you have to know about why this works, other than simply, it is a pump that happens to be able to work on a larger tire than is on a bike.

After all, it is designed to do this job, just on a different type of vehicle!

What Precautions To Take 

Being able to fill your car tire with air by using a bike pump can be a last-ditch effort to get your car to a gas station air pump.

However, you don’t just want to take the pump you have and try to attach it to your car right away. 

You want to check and understand a few things before you get started. This will keep your car tire safe from damage, and make sure there are no surprises along the way. 

presta valve ve schrader valve
Presta valve (left) and Schrader valve (right)

Check Your Valve Type 

Although pumping your car tire with a bike pump can be done, you have to make sure that you check the type of valve that is at the end of the bike pump. 

There are two types that usually come with a standard bike pump, a Schrader, and a Presta. The Presta valve has a slim piece of metal that has been threaded on the end of the pump. This will not work for your car tires. 

However, if your bike pump or kit comes with the Schrader valve, then you will be able to switch out the other option for this one which will fit on your car’s tires.

This will allow you to hook up the pump easily to begin pumping air into the tire. 

Know That It Will Take Quite a While 

Just because you can do the job with a bike pump doesn’t mean that it is a great idea. This is because a bike pump is much smaller than other options and will take a lot longer to get the job done. 

Also, because you are the one doing the pumping with a manual bike pump, it will be a pretty tough workout! Not the worst thing in the world of course 😉

A bike pump takes a long time to get a tire to where it needs to be!

You will also have to be in an awkward position that forces you to hunch over a little if you are not physically fit or able to do this, then you might need to enlist the help of someone who can. 

Or, if you are older and simply don’t have the strength to do the job, you can call someone to do it for you so you can at least get to the tire shop to see why it was low in the first place.

manually checking a car tire's pressure

You Still Have To Check the Tire Pressure 

If you don’t have a gauge on hand, which most responsible car owners do, then this will be harder. However, if you do have a tire gauge, then use it to check how low your tire pressure is.

You might see that the tire is a little low, but the pressure is higher than you’d expect!

This can tell you that you will only need to add a little bit of air to make sure the pressure is at a good level. 

If you have a reading that shows your tire pressure is very low, and the number is lowered every time you check, then you know that there is likely an issue with the tire’s valve or a possible hole in the tire itself that is letting out air. 

Either way, you want to make sure that you leave the pressure too low, but you also don’t want to overfill your tire. 

If you are not sure what the recommended tire pressure is for your vehicle, you can usually see the number it should stay at on the tire itself. If you can’t tell what the number is on the tire, then you can look at the inside of the door of your vehicle. 

There is a sticker that will show you the level of air pressure that you should aim for. 

If your tire is very low, you might get too tired to fill it all the way to the needed level. However, you don’t want to drive with your tires too low. This could cause your tire to pop, your rim to bend, or your car to lose a bit of control. 

So, even if you think that you will be fine, you don’t want to take any chances. Fill it up all the way even after you get tired of pumping, and you will avoid other issues. 

Quick Tip!

When you want to check your tire pressure, you should make sure your car is on flat ground.

This will make your tire pressure reading more accurate and ensure that you are truly putting enough air in your tire to prevent any damage from occurring.  

Why Would You Need To? 

Well, cars are often one of the biggest issues that people deal with throughout their life because they require maintenance and care that not everyone likes to handle.

Tires are just one part of a car and you want to check the tread and get your tires rotated every six months, clean them when you clean your car and change them when the tread is worn out.

Plus, tires can be expensive if you have to buy new ones. So, with a car that could be the start of many problems, it is not uncommon for you to step outside in the morning to find that you have one flat or low-air tire. 

Or, you might run over something on the road and then start to feel your control diminishing, which could be because your tire is letting out air. 

Desperate times require measures that match, so if you don’t have the time to get your tires checked or wait for someone to pick you up and buy a tire pump, then you might need a homemade solution. 

A more common tool that people own is a tire pump, and if this could work even temporarily, it could help make the issue less stressful. 

Final thoughts on inflating a car tire with a bike pump

Using a bike pump to put air in your car tires is not an ideal option, but when you are in need of air immediately, it can be the only option you have.

Whether you are stuck at home, are on vacation, or are in the middle of traveling, you want to keep your car in the best shape to make sure that it lasts the entire drive to the gas station or tire shop no matter where it is. 

It will take time, you will probably get a bit sweaty, and it is not the best way to take care of the issue.

However, you can do it when you need to, and it can work well enough to get you from point A to Point B without ruining a tire that could have been salvaged at the tire shop. 

So, if you are ever in a jam and need some air in your tires, see if you have a bike pump and you will be able to take care of it.

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Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!