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May 02, 2006

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Thank you, I find this a really interesting tip. I do have one question though.

Since I think usually compressed air is free at gas stations (correct me if I'm wrong), if you're only using it to top off your tires rather an emergency flat situation, isn't it cheaper to buy a tire gauge than a compressor?

Starfevre --

Yes, it would be cheaper, but the problem for me is found in my comments above:

"I've been thinking about the air compressor idea myself. I know that properly inflated tires help increase gas mileage (not to mention making your car safer to handle), but I either forget to check my pressure or it's not convenient (I'm in work clothes and it can be dirty, I'm rushed, it's cold out, etc.)."

Have you ever tried to check your tire pressure with a gauge? It's a dirty job, even if you're just removing the cap and placing the gauge on. But if you have to fill it up with air, it becomes even dirtier (the air gauge itself, the hose, etc.). It's hard to do and keep clean (I've mess up several sets of pants trying to do so).

Then add in the bad weather conditions much of the year (I live in Michigan, the state of disrepair many stations have at their air compressors, the inconvenience, etc.). It's just not worth the hassle -- so it doesn't get done. If It was more convenient (i.e. in my garage), I think it would get done and thus save me more $$$$.

FMF, Your calculation convinces me to buy an air compressor. I've been thinking of buying it too, but I was not sure if it worths it or not. I am a DIY fan and I think an air compressor can make other types of work easier too. Thanks for the tip.

I think you may be over-estimating the value of keeping your tires at the proper PSI. I cannot find anything that says the benefit will be more than 3%, which does not equate to 1 MPG unless your car already gets over 33 MPG. Presumably, this maximum benefit would only occur under long stretches of interstate driving with a heavy load, which may or may not be the majority of your driving.

Also, you are not balancing the theoretical gas savings against the opportunity cost of the time spent filling your tires constantly. It seems unlikely that they will even out.

Anon --

Ok, let's assume what I would call a low-end savings of 3%. I spent $800 the past year on gas for our two cars. 3% savings is $24. For a $75 compressor, that's a payback in three years. Not to mention the following benefits:

*Helps tires last longer/wear out less quickly.

*Improves safety/handling.

*Allows me to use compressor for other items like bikes (I ride 80 miles a week and check tire pressure weekly), soccer balls, basketballs, etc.

*I'm SAVING time versus filling these up in other methods (like via a pump)

Now, if the savings is really 4%, 5%, or more, the compressor pays out that much faster.

Plus, a decent compressor doesn't have to cost $75 either. I paid I think $40-50 for mine.

I also recommend one with a battery that doesn't always need to be plugged in. You can throw it in the trunk for a road trip, or bring it right down to the edge of the lake or out on a bike trip.

Mine also has a DC outlet so you can charge it and run a radio or light on a camping trip. Battery can only pump up about 4 car tires, but how often do you really need it to do a task like that. Just a thought.

The best time to buy a new car would probably be September and October this is the time when the new models cars arrive

This doesn't have to do with a car, but an added bonus to owning a compressor is that you can winterize your sprinkler system yourself. So you have some savings there as well!

A foot-pump also works to top off tires (good exercise), but I typically use my small electric compressor.

I always check tire pressure at the beginning of the month (clean the refrigerator coils too) and during the month if significant temperature changes occur or long trips are planned. Temp changes can squeeze air out or reduce its volume when colder; appear overinflated when warmer.

my bike tyres wore out funny because i used to be one of those guys who doesnt care about tyre pressures. When i changed them, i got premium tyres and now check the pressures every week. It definately gives me better mileage now

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