Skip to Content

Can A Bike Pump Inflate A Car Tire?

There’s nothing worse than being in a hurry for a big meeting, only to find out you might be late for work because your tire pressure is low. You’re frantically rushing about, wondering, ‘how can I fix this?’ when you spot your old bicycle pump hanging on the garage wall. Can you use your bike pump to inflate your car tire?

While it is possible to inflate most car tires using a bicycle pump in an emergency, it is not ideal as it will take a while for the tire to inflate, and it can be quite physically taxing to pump such a giant tire manually. It is recommended that you leave using the bike pump for emergencies only.

So, you’ve found yourself in an emergency, and you need to use your bicycle pump to inflate your car tire. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with a few things first, such as how to use a bike pump for a car tire and how long it will take you. 

inflating a car tire with bike pump

Can You Use A Bicycle Pump To Inflate Your Car Tire?

While it is not the ideal method, the short answer is yes. You probably can use your bike pump to inflate your car tire, provided it has the correct valve. Using an air compressor to pump your car tire instead is highly recommended. However, if a bicycle pump is all you have, it should work fine. 

Your bicycle pump must have a coupling for Schrader Valves, as these are the valves used on car tires. You will not be able to use a pump with a different valve because the only way for you to pump air through a Schrader Valve is when the correct Schrader-Valve coupling presses down slightly on a pin within the valve that allows air in. 

If your bicycle pump does have the correct valve for your car tires, you could probably inflate your tire within 20 minutes. The bigger your pump is, the easier it will be to reinflate your tire. If you have a small bike pump like cyclists bring with them on tours, it will take you significantly longer to inflate your car tire. 

The bicycle pump should only be used to inflate your tire so that you may drive to the nearest gas station, where you then can get the correct, high-pressure air into your car tires. 

How Does Tire Pressure Work?

Inside your car tire, there is air that inflates the rubber. A valve stem can be found on the side of your tire. It is like a passageway for the air to travel through. These valves are designed to ensure that air can enter the tire, but no air can escape back out through the valve.

As a result of this system, you are left with pressurized air inside your tire. You can check your tire pressure by putting a gauge against the valve that provides an air pressure reading. The gauge will then tell you roughly what your care tire’s PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch) is. You can then compare this reading to the correct tire pressure for your car’s tires.

It would be best if you made it a habit to check your car’s PSI at least once every four weeks as a regular part of your car’s maintenance. It is estimated that cars lose around one PSI of their tire pressure every month. Your PSI refers to the minimum amount of air pressure needed to support your vehicle at its maximum load.

How To Use A Bicycle Pump To Inflate A Car Tire

Keeping your car tires inflated correctly is vital to ensure your car’s fuel economy and performance remain high while reducing uneven wear on your car tires.

1. Park On A Flat, Clear Surface 

The area around your car needs to be cleared. This ensures you will be able to freely move around your car to inflate your tires without anything getting in your way. Parking your vehicle on a flat, level surface will make it easy for you to balance and operate your pump correctly. 

2. Remove The Valve Caps From Your Tires

The valve cap for each of your tires can be found on the side of the tire. It will be closely positioned to the metal of your wheel’s rim. Usually, these caps are screw-on; if that is the case, unscrew the valve caps on all tires. To prevent accidentally losing your valve caps, place them in a container or Ziploc packet as they are pretty small, which means they can be easily lost.

3. Establish The Correct Pressure For Your Tires

The recommended tire pressure for the tires of your car will usually be written on a sticker that can be found inside the drivers’ door. Open the driver’s door and check for your car’s optimal air pressure. 

If you cannot find your tire pressure on the inside of the driver’s door, your cars’ tire pressure information can generally be found inside your car manual. If you have neither your car manual nor the sticker on the inside of your door, a quick google search will be able to tell you the correct PSI for your car model. For certain vehicles, front and back tire pressure may differ.

4. Check Your Tire Pressure Using A Pressure Gauge

Make sure your pressure gauge is clean before use. Press your gauge into the valve until you hear the sound of escaping air stop, then release. Compare your gauge reading to your car’s recommended PSI and determine whether your tire needs air. 

5. Attach The Bike Pump To The Tire Valve

While attaching your pump onto your tire, it is customary to hear some air escaping. The Schrader valve usually has a stem, threading for a screw-on cap at the end. Inside the stem at the end, there should be a small metal pin. 

If your valve has a thin threaded cylinder of metal extending from the stem, it is the wrong valve. This is called a Presta valve, another standard valve that is used for bicycle pumps. You will need to use a Schrader valve when pumping up car tires.  

6. Pumping Your Tire

Push down and pull up on the bar of your bike pump firmly. This is the part that will take the longest and be the most physically taxing. You should stop to check your tire pressure at regular intervals.

You should avoid filling your tires with more or less than five PSI above or below the recommended amount. Your bike pump will move less air, and at a slower rate than a standard compressor, so you can expect to be pumping for 15-20 minutes, or more depending on how flat your tire was in the first place. 

If you accidentally overfilled your tire, you can use your pressure gauge or another tool to press down on the pin in the middle of the tire valve and drag it to the side of the valve. This will release some air in the tire and decrease the tire pressure. 


In an emergency, you will likely be able to use your bike pump to inflate your car’s tires. Just ensure that it has the correct valve (Schrader Valve) and make sure, either with your car manual, the driver door sticker, or Google, about the recommended PSI for your tires.