Aaron DiManna
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How I Work Around My Terrible Air Pump

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A tire pressure gauge, which the air pump near my apartment sorely lacks.

Being the safety-minded and maintenance-conscious driver that I am, I make it a point to refill my tires’ air whenever the low-pressure indicator light appears on my dash. However, it seems like a waste of time to drive any further than necessary for such basic upkeep, so I go to the air pump closest to my apartment. The only problem is that it’s terrible, and I hate it.


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What makes a good air pump?

For context as to why the air pump near my apartment brings shame to the entire concept, I thought I’d mention what makes a good one. The first and most important feature of a good refill station is that the nozzle you put up against your tires has a built-in pressure gauge. That way, if you want to check how close you are to the correct psi, you can just flick a switch and wait for the information to be presented to you. A good, long hose is also a big plus.

Ideally, it would be free as well, but that seems like a stretch.

Why my air pump is a travesty

Look, I love technology, but it’s not always a good idea for certain simple processes to try to be smarter than they are. The air pump nearest my apartment runs on a completely digital system, which is nowhere near as convenient as you might imagine. The kiosk where you submit payment features a small display where you can set your desired PSI and shows your tires’ current pressure.

In theory, that sounds nice, but it’s actually quite problematic. First, the nozzle doesn’t have a built-in gauge, so I need to rely on the screen, which is generously 3 inches wide and 1.5 inches tall. As a result, when I move to the opposite side of my car, I can’t see the readout and just kind of have to guess.

Finally, the system is meant to sound an alert when you hit the appropriate pressure, but the machine is so loud that it usually drowns it out. Moreover, whatever fool designed it made indicator noise sound exactly like a car horn, making it hard to differentiate from the exhalations of frustrated drivers in the adjacent parking lot.

The solution is simple — either do the intelligent thing and buy the 99-cent pressure gauge that should already be in my glove box, go to a different pump, or do both. All I ask is that you learn from my story of ultimately self-inflicted woe.


Big tires, even bigger truck: The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500