Can a Bike Pump Work on a Car or RV Tire?

A bike pump can inflate a car tire; the pump can easily supply enough pressure to fill the wheel and have you going on your way. It will require that you pump between 300 to 600 times, with the size of the pump and its valve system heavily deciding just how long you may be pumping.

Many people have considered bypassing the small fee that it may cost to pump your car tires at the local petrol station, only to find their wheels more deflated. There are many reasons for this to happen, and understanding why it is not best to use a bicycle pump for your car tire is essential.

Why Can’t Bike Pumps Work On Car Tires?

There are two reasons that bike pumps won’t work on your car tire, the first one being that most bikes have Presta valves in them, which may be included inexpensive bicycle pumps. The second reason is that the air volume in a car tire is significantly higher than that in your bicycle tires.

Many people with emergency bike pumps have the small ones they can strap onto their bicycles; these have stored valves in their caps. However, these will take a long time to pump a car tire, while the larger bicycle pumps come with identical valves; these are usually lost by the time you need them.

Further, we need to stress that while bicycle tires usually have more pressure, they are significantly smaller than car tires. A proper bicycle pump can fill a bicycle tire in a few pumps to the correct pressure, whereas that same level of volume takes a lot longer to fill a car tire.

What Can You Pump With A Bike Pump?

Bike pumps are unique and will pump almost anything with a valve system, as manufacturers have learned that they are used in multiple ways. Because of the universal thread size of most valve systems, you can buy any valve that you may need.

Bicycle pumps are used to pump everything from basketballs, air mattresses, and the bicycle tires they have been made for. Usually, the only reason to use something else is when the volume required to pump something becomes too great.

This is what happens when you start trying to pump a car, trailer, or SUV tire with the bike pump, as they can easily handle the pressure. However, the volume required to be pushed through to pump these is too great for the pump to do with comfort.

What Is The Highest PSI A Bicycle Pump Can Provide?

Most bicycle pumps can handle well over 60 psi of pressure, which is just above the amount of pressure required to be, usually around 30 to 40 PSI. Many road bicycles with thinner tires require higher pressure PSI, reaching levels of 100 PSI on average.


The smaller a tire is, the more pressure it requires to work correctly, which is why bicycle pumps are usually rated to supply more pressure than your car, SUV, RV, or motorbike may need. We have seen several people use bicycle pumps too much on their new wheels, causing them to bubble out.

Putting too much pressure on a tire, either a car tire or a bicycle tire, can cause a lot of damage, which is another spot that most bicycle tires fail. A petrol garage will have a measure built into the pumps they use; these will tell you when you reach the maximum pressure rating for your tire.

How Do Bicycle Pumps Work?

The pump draws in the air on the upstroke of the pump, drawing in air through a separate valve that opens only when the air pressure in the tube reaches a low point. As you push down on the handle, the air pressure compresses, and the intake valve closes, while the valve on the tire opens and pushes air in.

This is the essential operation of all bicycle pumps that you can buy from shops, and it is one of the easiest ways to create high-pressure systems. Usually, when you reach higher pressure hand pumps, you will move less air but implement the same basic system to pump up your tires.

Electric pumps or air compressors work differently, usually just providing higher air pressure than whatever it is you are trying to pump. A small air compressor may be able to pump up your car tire in a few minutes efficiently but may not be strong enough to pump up your high-pressure bicycle tires.

What Kind Of Bicycle Pumps Will Work Best On A Car Tire?

If you have no choice but to use a bicycle pump to pump up a car tire, then the best pump will be a long cylinder foot pump that is not a high-pressure pump. These pumps move a lot more air with each pump than almost any other bicycle pump.

Many people want to jump and use the emergency bicycle pumps they have on them when they need to pump a car tire. However, these barely move any air at all and will have you pumping the tire for several hours before you start reaching any significant pressure levels.

If you have an electric bicycle pump that uses a form of high pressure that can pump a car tire, you will need to be careful. These pumps are not meant to be run for long periods at a time and can burn out quite quickly if you are not letting them cool down enough.

What Is The Difference Between Schrader And Presta Valves?

Presta valves are only used on bicycle inner tubes as they are narrower and can handle a lot higher pressure than other valves. Schrader valves are standard valves that all car tires, big or small, have larger diameters and removable cores that allow them to be replaced with ease.

It is important to remember the difference between these two valves as you may need to replace them when a bicycle tire or car tire has been run flat for a while. As the valves are one of the few parts of a tire that stands out, they can be easily damaged when bent.

Many car tires that have been driven when completely flat will suffer from broken or damaged valves that need to be replaced entirely. You must keep this in mind when choosing a bicycle pump as well, as they may only fit on one specific type of valve.

Your bicycle pump can quickly provide enough pressure to pump your car tire; make sure that you have the correct valve attached to thread onto the tire valve. However, the amount of air pressure moved by the pump is not nearly large enough and will require hours of pumping to do correctly.

It’s always easier to just put on the spare tire, drive to a petrol station and spend the 50 cents required to use their pressurized air!