Disclosure: I received a free review sample from Ring Automotives. I did not receive any payment and was not required to write a positive review. Links marked with (eBay⇒) or (Amazon⇒) are affiliate links. This means I get paid a small commission if you buy something after clicking on the links. This money helps to pay for the running of the website.
Keeping your car’s tyres correctly inflated is vitally important for getting the best out of them. Under-inflated tyres:
- Handle badly
- Wear out faster
- Are more likely to puncture or blow out
- Use more fuel than necessary
With this in mind, it is important to check your car’s tyre pressures at least once a month and before any long journeys.
While most tyre pumps have pressure gauges, these are not always especially accurate and are more awkward to use than a dedicated tyre gauge.
Tyre gauges are small enough to be kept in your car’s glovebox and are designed to be very quick and easy to use – as well as reasonably accurate.
It doesn’t cost much to buy a tyre gauge and it should be a glove box essential for all car owners. We recently received a selection of tyre gauges to review from car accessory specialists Ring Automotive.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a calibrated tyre gauge against which I can compare the accuracy of the gauges being tested.
However, I do have several other tyre gauges that I know to be reasonably consistent with each other. Therefore my testing procedure was to check the tyre pressure using my Michelin foot pump and another good quality gauge before using taking readings with the Ring gauges for comparison.
Ring Automotive RTG3 Analogue Tyre Gauge (£4.95)
There’s nothing wrong with analogue tyre gauges in this digital age – for one thing, they don’t need batteries and tend to be more robustly made.
The Ring RTG3 was easy to use and has a clear display that reads in both PSI (pounds per square inch) and kg/cm².
However, it’s downfall was its accuracy – our test unit consistently read about 6psi too high when compared to the three other readings I took for each tyre. Ring specifies an accuracy of ±2psi for this model, but I couldn’t get anywhere close to that – maybe I got a faulty one.
Pros: Robust, easy to use, cheap
Cons: Accuracy too poor to recommend
Ring Automotive RTG5 Digital Tyre Gauge (£12.99)
The RTG5 has a 360° rotating head that makes it easy to line up with your tyre valves. Accuracy is good, too, reading within 1psi or so of my control readings. The illuminated display is nice, displaying pressure readings in large numbers that are easy to read, even in poor light conditions.
This display is much easier to read than the RTG3’s analogue equivalent, although it sometimes took me a few attempts to get the gauge lined up exactly square with the tyre valve when taking a reading.
Pros: Affordable, accurate – good balance of quality and price
Cons: Nothing much
UPDATE March 2016: 4.5 years later, I’m still using this gauge and still rate it highly.
Ring Automotive RTG6 Digital Tyre Gauge & Tread Depth Gauge (£16.99)
The RTG6 lies near the top of Ring Automotive’s range of tyre gauges and has a few extra features in addition to the core tyre pressure gauge, which is the same as that of the RTG5 and includes the useful 360° rotating head.
As with the RTG5, the RTG6 provided accurate and consistent pressure readings that were close to my two control readings.
The RTG6 also incorporates a small LED light in its head which is meant to allow you to take tyre pressure readings in the dark (e.g. in a garage with the door closed). I found this to be a bit dim for easy use in the dark. You could probably manage if you had to.
This model also incorporates a tyre tread depth gauge, which operates on a slider principle. You slide the measuring rod out and then press it into the tread of the tyre. This slides it back inside the gauge until the body of the gauge is pressed against the tyre. You can then read the remaining tread depth from the ruler-style tread depth gauge.
The tread depth gauge is not quite as accurate and easy to use as a separate device, but having a tread depth gauge built in to the pressure gauge makes it more likely that people will use it, which is a benefit.
Pros: Accurate pressure readings, all-in-one device is useful and more likely to be used
Cons: LED light rather dim
The RTG3 was the cheapest and least accurate gauge in the test. In my opinion, it was too inaccurate to be any real use. Although both the RTG5 and the RTG6 were more than double the price, they easily justified this with their accurate readings, good design and clear displays. Each also comes with a hard case that will protect it from being damaged or accurately switched on when not in use.
Personally, I would buy the RTG5 and buy a separate tread depth gauge – but if you think you are more likely to use an all-in-one device, then go for the RTG6 – it’s a good package and you should be able to find it for around £15.
Finally, if you are reading this and thinking that £10-£15 seems a lot to pay for a tyre gauge, then just consider the combined cost of the increased fuel consumption and premature tyre replacements that are the result of driving with under-inflated tyres.