Maintaining proper car tire pressure is critical in improving how you drive your vehicle. Good tire pressure ensures that your car or bike will move smoothly throughout your ride. On top of that, it is also crucial to maintain safety.

But what if one of your tires loses its pressure when you cannot access a car pump? If you are a mountain biker, chances are you have a bike pump somewhere in your car. But can you use it to inflate your car’s tire?

Hooking bike pump up to car tire
Hooking bike pump up to car tire

Key Takeaways

This article will discuss the following:

  • Whether or not you can use a bike pump to inflate a car tire
  • Tools needed when using a bike pump on a car tire
  • How to inflate a car tire using a bike pump
  • How to prevent air from leaking out of your car’s tire

You can use a bike pump to inflate a flat car tire. But as a bike pump is for smaller tires, inflating a car tire will take a long time and effort. Car tires have a Schrader valve, while bike pumps are for Presta valves, so you need a valve adapter.

This article will tackle using a bike pump to increase a car tire’s pressure. This way, you know what to do if encountering an unforeseen situation.

Can A Bike Pump Inflate A Car Tire?

Have you ever experienced a flat tire where you cannot easily access a pump? Maintaining your car’s tire pressure is crucial to its overall performance. So, in times when an actual car pump is not available, there is nothing you can do but improvise.

If you have a bike pump hidden in your trunk, you may wonder if you can use it to inflate your car tire.

Can You Use A Bike Pump To Inflate A Car Tire?

You can increase your car tire’s pressure using a bike pump. However, a bike pump intends to inflate much smaller tires than car tires. For this reason, it will take significantly longer before the bike pump can achieve the correct pressure for your car tire.

To successfully reach the same level of inflation standard car pumps can provide, you need to put a lot of effort into manually operating your bike pump.

The good thing about bike pumps is that they come cheaply. They are also compact and easy to use. For this reason, you can easily get one and store it in your car trunk. This way, you will have a tool to use whenever you need to increase your vehicle’s tire pressure.

Different tire valves

How You Can Use A Bike Pump To Inflate A Car Tire

Tools Needed:

  • Bike Pump – ideally, you want your bike pump to have a Schrader valve coupling, as car tires use such a type of valve. If your bike pump and car tire valve are incompatible, you cannot connect the two, so the pump will not work.
  • Schrader Valve Adapter – according to authors Jeff McNamee and Stacy Birdsall, bike tires commonly have Presta valves, although some also utilize Schrader valves. If you cannot find a bike pump with a coupling for Schrader valves, you need to purchase a Schrader valve adapter. This way, you can convert your Presta pump and make it compatible with the car tire’s Schrader valve.
  • Pressure Gauge

Step 1. Connect the Schrader valve adapter to your pump

If your bike pump has a Presta valve coupling, you must first install your adapter to the pump. Presta valves are smaller than Schrader valves, so that the adapter will increase the size of your pump’s coupling.

According to the 7th edition of the book Effective Cycling, a Schrader valve adapter is commonly used for roadside emergencies. So, having such an adapter is convenient if you own a mountain bike and a tire pump.

Step 2. Remove the valve cap from the flat tire

You can find your car tire’s valve near its rim. The valve cap is screw-on, so you only need to twist it to remove it from the valve.

The valve cap is pretty small. For this reason, you need to place it somewhere secure to ensure you will not lose it.

Step 3. Identify the correct tire pressure

If you are unsure how much pressure to put in your car tire, check for the recommended pressure inside the driver’s door. There, you will find a sticker that states the pressure your vehicle’s tires should have.

Find the recommended tire pressure in driverside door opening
Find the recommended tire pressure in driverside door opening

Suppose you cannot find the recommended tire pressure in your car’s driver’s door. In this case, you can refer to your car’s manual. If your manual is no longer accessible, a quick search on the web will provide you with the information you need.

Step 4. Check how much pressure your tire needs

A pressure gauge measures the amount of pressure in your car’s tires. After opening the tire’s valve, the air will escape, thus making a hissing sound. Press the pressure gauge into the valve until this hissing sound stops.

With the pressure gauge, you can determine how much pressure you need to put in your car tire.

Step 5. Attach the bike pump to the tire and begin pumping

You first need to flip the head’s lever to attach the pump to your car tire’s valve. Then, push the end of the pump into the valve. You will hear the air escaping the valve, but it will stop when you connect the pump securely.

After attaching the pump, you can begin inflating your car’s tire. It is essential to note that achieving the proper tire pressure will take a long time and physical effort. Bike pumps can feed your car tire with significantly less air. For this reason, you need to expect to pump for 20 minutes or more if your tire is too flat.

Remove the bike pump from your car tire once it inflates. Quickly install your pressure gauge to the valve to check if you achieved the correct pressure. If the pressure is less than recommended, pump more air. If there is too much pressure, allow some air to escape until you achieve the right amount of air.

Finally, screw the valve close and tire to ensure that the tire will not deflate again.

MTB Tools I Love and Recommend

Bike Hand Repair Stand
Bike Hand Repair Stand
Bike Hand 37 pcs Tool Box
Bike Hand 37 pcs Tool Box
Topeak Smartgauge D2 Air Pressure
Topeak Smartgauge D2 Air Pressure

I own each of these tools and only recommend things I own and use.

  • Bike Hand Bike Repair Stand.  Nice mountain bikes don’t have a kick stand so keeping your MTB safe but conveniently stored is essential.  I keep my bike on my stand whenever I’m not riding it.  This makes it easy to lube the chain, inflate the tires and adjust the derailleur.  Highly recommended – Bike Hand Bike Repair Stand (👈 Link to Amazon to see what thousands of others have said)
  • A basic MTB toolbox for replacing a chain, adjusting brakes and dialing in the fit.  Bike Hand has a 37-piece box that has most of the specialty bike tools to keep your MTB properly maintained.  The Bike Hand brand is value packed for the avid rider.  Check out the competitive prices with this link to Amazon 👉 Bike Hand 37 pcs Bike Repair Tool Kit
  • Get a good air pressure gauge, if you get just a tiny bit serious about MTBing you’re going to start playing with tire pressure.  A couple psi can make your tires sticking or not.  Get a good gauge, I highly recommend the Topeak Smartgauge D2, it’s accurate, flexible and easy to use.  An Amazon best seller, here’s a link 👉 Topeak Smartgauge D2
  • Carry a multitool with you on every ride.  I’m serious, most of the time you can MacGyver something to get back to the trailhead if you have a multitool.  I’ve got the Crank Brothers M19, it’s worn, rubbed and abused – but it still works.   Thousands sold on Amazon – check it out with this link 👉 Crank Brothers M19

How To Prevent Your Car’s Tire From Losing Pressure

According to a study about vehicle tire pressure monitoring systems, the pressure inside car tires significantly impacts the driver’s comfort and fuel efficiency. The reason is that under-inflated tires increase a vehicle’s drag. As a result, your car needs to consume more fuel throughout your drive.

For this reason, it is crucial to prevent air from escaping your car’s tire. Tires may gradually lose air for the following reasons:

  • Damaged Wheel- corrosion, accidents, and wear out cause your wheels to deform and acquire damage. This deformity can damage the tire’s bead, resulting in the air’s slow escape.
  • Worn Out Valve Stem – a tire’s valve stem may deteriorate over time, causing it to leak air slowly. If you typically tighten your valve too much, it can also contribute to the loss of tire pressure.
  • Change In Temperature – a constant rise and drop in temperature can also result in a gradual loss of air. For instance, if you leave your car in the cold, you may notice that its tires are under-inflated in the morning.

You can prevent car tires from losing pressure through regular maintenance. You need to occasionally check your tire’s valve stem to ensure it is in good condition. Ensuring that the wheels are not bent or damaged is also crucial.

Suppose you are uncertain whether or not your tires are losing air. In that case, you can apply soapy water to the tire’s valve or any other part where you think the air is escaping. The soapy water will produce bubbles on the parts where air escapes.

You can fix the problem or ask a professional for help in such a case.

Learning about Mountain Bike Tires could take years. Let me help you just a bit quicker with some articles.

Final Pumps

A car’s tire pressure can make or break your ride. For this reason, it is vital to prevent your tires from leaking air, no matter how gradual the leak is.

When you have a flat car tire, you can use a bike pump to inflate it in emergencies. However, you may need a valve adapter to attach the pump to your car’s tire.


David Humphries is the creator of DIY Mountain Bike. For me a relaxing day involves riding my mountain bike to decompress after a long day. When not on my bike I can be found wrenching on it or making YouTube videos at 👉 DIY Mountain Bike Read more about David HERE.


  1. Gresov, Ian. “The Importance of Tire Pressure Regulation and the Self-Inflating Tire.” The University of Florida (2015). Accessed March 3, 2023.
  2. McNamee, Jeff, and S. B. Claus. “Mountain biking.” Teaching lifetime outdoor pursuits (2010). Accessed March 3, 2023.
  3. John Forester. Effective Cycling. MIT Press, 2012. Accessed March 3, 2023.
  4. Caban, Jacek, Paweł Droździel, Dalibor Barta, and Štefan Liščák. “Vehicle tire pressure monitoring systems.” Diagnostyka 15, no. 3 (2014). Accessed March 3, 2023.