The Evil Gadgeteer within me could not resist when it saw the ad for this Sears Craftsman Digital Tire Gauge in the Craftsman Club tool catalog.
What was the hook?
The ad copy beckoned me with the tempting “Program the target tire pressure of your vehicle” clearly printed on the package.
Now let’s pause for a sec and think about what this means, because it is an important factor in the evaluation of this product.
My interpretation of “Program the target tire pressure…”, is that I can program, or set, a target tire pressure and then the gauge will bleed off extra pressure and bring me to the programmed pressure.
When I got to the store and read the package, front and back, it said the same thing. So I bought it.
When I got home, I opened the instructions, and read the two parts, A and B.
Part A is entitled “Pressure measurement without preset target” and Part B is “Target Setting”.
Great, I thought — this will be cool. I’ll pump up the tires, set the gauge and it will automagically bleed off the excess air right down to the “programmed” setting.
The Sears interpretation of “program” means that you can store the front and rear tire pressure values in the gauge and that’s it.
For example, if the front/rear recommended pressures on your bike are, say, 31/36, then those numbers can be stored in the gauge for display later on as a reminder.
But the gauge will display the values for you as a reference only.
The gauge can not be programmed to bleed off excess pressure down to a set value.
Plus, only one set of front/rear pressures can be stored. There is no capability to store front/rear pressures for more than one vehicle.
I was disappointed and I also felt like I was fooled with this discovery.
My understanding is confirmed by the fine print about 3/4 of the way through the instructions:
“Note”, it reads, “The target numbers are only reminders of the vehicle manufacturer’s suggested tire pressure levels. They cannot be used to test for or indicate actual pressure in tires.”
Still not very clear, but the bottom line is that this is not a programmable tire gauge in my understanding of the term.
Oh well… With that feature unavailable, it becomes just an expensive electronic tire pressure gauge with a big LCD and a tiny LED light.
Using the Gauge
There’s a button under the “Craftsman” logo that operates a small LED light on the side.
The light works well enough to illuminate the valve cap at night, but does not add much during the day.
The gauge does have a rotating head, which is a plus, and it includes a little nub for depressing the valve stem to bleed air from the tire; both are nice features.
The rotating head helps with accessing some motorcycle tire/wheel combinations when taking the tire pressure.
The gauge can also be used without any programming or fuss by simply popping it on the tire valve stem.
The LCD readout is illuminated, which is another nice feature, although I’m not sure how this will affect battery life over time.
The numbers on the LCD display are about 0.5″ tall (about 13mm), so they’re easy to read.
The gauge is “programmed” by holding down the button marked “Set” for 3+ seconds.
An outline of an automobile is displayed (too bad it can’t be programmed to show a motorcycle instead) and pressures for the front tire and rear tire are “programmed” into the gauge with up/down buttons.
As I said, this feature simply stores the entered values to act as a reminder of the recommended air pressure.