How to check your tyre pressures at a petrol station
We all know how important it is to check the pressure in our car tyres on a regular basis and, with many petrol stations offering tyre pressure check/inflation facilities, the process is easier and more convenient than ever. Nevertheless, using unfamiliar technology for the first time can be a daunting process, particularly if you are worried about holding up other customers! So here is a simple guide to checking and inflating your tyres on a garage forecourt.
What you'll need:
Silver change or tokens (bought from the shop)
Your vehicle user manual (for alternative option, see step 1)
Before starting your journey it is worth locating your vehicle's user's manual. Look up the tyre pressure chart (usually in the back) which will give you the correct pressures to use in a variety of conditions (fully loaded, 3 passengers, etc.). The values will be in Bar or PSI (more on that later). If you don't have the manual, this information is often found on the inner edge of the front doors (visible when you open them). If not, Kwik Fit (and probably others) have a handy online pressure checker - you need only type in your vehicle registration number.
Some petrol stations offer tyre check facilities for free but they are a rarity. If not you will need to either purchase tokens from the shop or use silver change. Most machines cost either 20p or 50p for a cycle. Check at the counter (or on the machine itself) for prices and length of cycle.
Park your vehicle alongside the machine. Park as close as you can with all wheels as close as possible to the machine. Most machines have a retractable hose which will stretch to reach all tyres but if not you run the risk of having to waste time repositioning your vehicle.
Unscrew each of the four plastic valve caps which cover your tyre valves. Put them in a safe place, perhaps a secure pocket.
Put your token/money into the correct slot. The tyre pressure machine should now start running.
Next, choose the units you wish to use (if applicable). There is usually a button where you can select either 'Bar' or 'PSI' (pounds per square inch). If for any reason you have no record of the correct units, a number between 1.5 and 3.5 will be in bars whereas a number between 20 and 40 will be in PSI.
Using the +/- buttons (or similar) select the correct tyre pressure for your vehicle (as determined in step 1).
Quickly but calmly unhook the air hose and place the nozzle firmly over the first tyre valve. The machine's digital display will register the current tyre pressure. Most machines will then start to auto-inflate the tyre to the correct pressure (nominated in step 7), though occasionally there will be a lever to hold down.
When the correct pressure is reached, an alarm will sound and the digital display will flash, often displaying the pressure value and the word 'end'. Move quickly on to the next tyre.
After checking the final tyre, rehook the pressure hose and replace the valve caps you removed in step 4.
Although every tyre pressure machine is likely to be unique, the above seems to be a standard design in petrol stations across the country.
Make sure your vehicle does not obstruct other garage users
Machine cycles vary in length. Work quickly to avoid having to add extra money
Ideally, allow tyres to cool before checking them
Sometimes correct front and rear tyre pressures vary - check your manual carefully
Never use a tyre inflation machine on bicycle tyres or children's toys
Report any suspected faults to staff