Whatever happened to …

… free air?

Recently, I got a call from my daughter indicating that her car was telling her that one of her tires was apparently low in air. Where could she get it filled?

Years ago, that wasn’t really a problem. Every gas station had an air pump like the one below and the air was free.

Jenny Addison – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Not so anymore. Heck, it was really difficult to find an image that I could use here. There were lots of images available when you search but only a few with a friendly reuse license. There were lots of restored devices available for sale or auction!

You’d think I’d be able to just head out and take a picture locally. There are, unfortunately, only two public air pumps in town – one at the Circle K and the other at the Canadian Tire gas bar and both charge $1.50 to use.

Growing up, like I said, they were everywhere and we’d constantly drop in to make sure that our bike tires or soccer balls were properly inflated. Now, I have a hand pump in the garage to do the deed. My wife’s Jeep Renegade came without a spare tire but it does have an inflator device where the tire could be stored that plugs into the power outlet and inflates with a combination of sealant and air.

As for my daughter, she had pulled over on the 401 (!) and her tire looked inflated so she just drove it slowly to the next ONRoute where the air was free. We were nicely surprised because normally everything there is priced a little higher. I thought maybe she would have to pay $2.00.

So, your thoughts for a Sunday.

  • If you were to find a low pressure warning today (hopefully not), do you know where your closest air pump would be?
  • Would it be free? If not, how much?
  • Do you own a personal air pump? I’ve never tried but can you use it to inflate a car tire?
  • What sorts of things do you own / use that need to be properly inflated to use?
  • Do you own a tire pressure gauge?
  • PSI or KPA?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Published by dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

5 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Well, you’ve found a pet peeve of mine — motorcyclists religiously track their tires’ pressure (or should) and it’s become annoying that the free air pumps are gone. Fortunately, even though the nearby Shell has a “1.00” charge on the pump, it’s still free to use (the interac system has yet to be set up — they removed the option for coins). Even from an environmental perspective, we should ensure that folks’ tires are properly inflated and having a charge for the air discourages that.

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  2. Doug, I remember the one time that I had to fill up my tire with air. Actually, I got the lovely person at the gas station to help me out. A gas station near me has an air pump. I think it’s a couple of dollars. I could be wrong about that. Worth it though to make the tire not flat anymore. That said, I still don’t know how to pump air on my own (and not overly inflate the tire). I wonder if others might be in the same boat. Glad your daughter got some air for her tire.



  3. yes. To so many of your questions. I do know what to do when the warning light goes on. I do know where the local stations are that have a pump (and it’s usually either a $1 or $2). I even know where I can find air on the long drives between Peterborough and Owen Sound (my mom’s) should the need arise. We do have a device that will inflate car tires, and of course we have ones for the bicycles in this house. I know how to use a tire gauge, and know where it lives in the car. PSI for me, all the way (mostly because I’m a bicyclist). We even, in Peterborough, have a couple of free air pumps for cyclists.


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