How to Use an Air Compressor to Fill a Tire at Gas Station?

An air compressor is one of the most powerful tools that you can use for filling air in the tires of your car, bicycle, and truck. It is a fairly common machine that you can find at every gas station. If you drive very often, you’re going to end up having a flat tire. Many people have their own tire inflators but those who don’t have; they will surely go to a gas station. That’s why it’s important to learn how to use an air compressor for filling tires at a gas station.

As there are two types of air compressors at gas stations, one is coin-operated and one is free. We know everybody will go for a free one, so here we will guide you about how to use it for free and paid & tell you about how much it costs.

DIY Guide to Inflate Tires Using Air Compressor at Gas Station

Before airing up your vehicle tires, do a thorough inspection. We’ve made a checklist that will help to inspect the air compressor working fine or not. Read it below.


  • Leakage: Properly analyze the air compressor tank and hose to check is there any leakage or not, because if it is leaking then you will not get good pressure for inflating tires.
  • Pressure Gauge: Check pressure gauge is working properly
  • Nozzle: Check the air pump nozzle is in good condition or broken
  • Temperature: Always check the internal temperature of the air compressor, you can see it on the screen if the air inflator has digital meter. The temperature should be in between 50-85 degree Fahrenheit.
  • Noise: Sometimes, when you visit a gas station and the air compressor starts giving hissing noises. Don’t panic, it is due to the increase in internal pressure. Simply, turn off the compressor.
  • Refilling: It is very rare that when you visit a gas station the air tank is empty. You can refill it yourself, just turn on the button under the air compressor and it starts refilling. Mostly these service stations are using automatic air pumps, so there is no need to worry about refilling.

Here you have learned all the possible issues that you may face while filling tires at gas stations. So, let’s start inflating tires vehicle-wise.

Inflating Car Tires

The car tires have to be kept in good condition at all times. You need to keep checking the pressure regularly to make sure the tires are inflated properly. Because the pressure in tires can dip if you are running the car for long hours. Gas stations are the best places to inflate car tires. But you need to follow certain steps to inflate the car tires at the gas station.

1. Locate the Gas Station

First, you need to find a gas station that is offering free air. Turn on your phone map and search for a gas station near your location. Reach the station and park your car in a safe place where it does not disturb the other vehicles and also close to the air pump so you can easily fill the tires.

2. Check Tire Pressure

You need to check the pressure of your car tire to know what amount of air to be filled. Use a digital pressure gauge if available otherwise check with the brass gauge. The recommended tire pressure for a car is 30-35 psi.

  • Tip: It also helps to maximize your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and provide a smooth drive.

3. Start Inflating

If there is a digital air pump then set the psi rating to a maximum of 35 psi. Put the nozzle of the air compressor and connect it with the tire valve, here the filling starts. When the pressure reaches your given value the machine automatically stops.

In addition, if there is a brass pressure gauge based inflator then start filling the air. Keep checking the tire pressure after a while and when it reaches between numbers 30 – 35 psi then turn off the air pump. Avoid overinflating because it may damage the tires. If you have overinflated the tires mistakenly then deflate with the help of a tool to maintain the pressure.

Inflating Bicycle/Bike Tires

Bicycle tires are often inflated using a hand pump. These are easy to use and can inflate a tire in a few minutes. But, as a bicyclist, if you keep rolling on road then you will face flat tire issues. So, visit the nearest gas station and follow instructions to fill up bicycle tires.

The first step in inflating bicycle tires is to put it in a stationary position. Use a bike stand if possible. Otherwise, simply prop the bike against a wall with the front wheel facing up.

You must have a Presta or Schrader valve for airing up the tires whether it is a simple tubed or mountain tubeless bike because the station’s air pump is designed especially for cars or other automobiles. Attach the Presta valve with the nozzle of the air compressor and connect it with the tire of the bicycle. The ideal pressure for a tire of bicycle must be in between 80 to 130 psi. So, keep the pressure maintain to get a risk-free cycling.

Using Coin Operated Air Compressor

It is very rare that you have to pay some cents or dollars for filling tires because most of the gas stations offer free air. But, if there is an emergency and you found a coin-operated air pump then follow our instructions below.

Add money to start the air inflator, most of the gas stations charge from 50 cents to 1$ or 2$ and you will get a limited time to air up your tires. So, you have to pay the fee.

  • Tip: As the countdown is showing on the screen, you will start getting continuous beep and then the machine automatically stops when times up. So, fill up the tires in the given limited time i.e. 3-4 minutes because you have to pay again if the time finishes.

Now set the pressure on the air machine according to the tire requirements and connect it with the tire. The filling starts and when it completes then separate the hose and must check the internal pressure of the tire with a pressure gauge.

Can I pay through debit card for using air compressor at gas station?

First, try to find a gas station with free air but if there is an air pump that is charging dollars and providing features of payment through debit card then you can pay. But, Stop! Why Pay? You will be charged an extra fee for every transaction from your bank. The simple solution is, always to keep some coins with you to pay at that type of place.


Air compressors are located at gas stations all over the United States. They are used to fill up tires and inflate things like large truck tires, sporting equipment, pool floats, and boat tires. We have provided you a detailed guide on how you can fill tires at gas stations. Still, If you are facing any other issues then share your thoughts below. We will quickly respond and help to solve your issue.

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