Received an old bike from a family member and I've tried to inflate the tires but whenever I attach the pump to the tire it seems that I can't inflate it. All I hear is a hissing and it feels like all the air is escaping out the back of the pump. Both the bike and the pump haven't been used in several years so it's possible one or both is broken. I believe the bike has Schrader valves and the pump works for any type of valve but I'm not completely sure. Does anyone know a way to test if either is broken or a way to make sure there is a good connection between the valve and pump? Thanks x

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    Try inflating something other than this bike's tires with the pump. If that works, it's probably not the pump. It also may be that you just aren't getting a good seal between the pump and valve, which might just mean you need to position the pump head differently.
    – Adam Rice
    Jul 26, 2020 at 17:18
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    I have had to replace the piston seal on one of my pumps - they can fail. With most pumps you can hold the chuck with your thumb tightly over the air hole and push on the pump with your other hand. It should feel like pushing a stiff spring. If air gets out somewhere, that's where to look. I've also tested by putting the whole bottom end of the pump, hose and all, in a plastic bag, squeezing the air out and strapping it round the pump with a rubber band. A leak at the bottom would still inflate the bag, a (bad) leak at the top wouldn't
    – Chris H
    Jul 26, 2020 at 17:30
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    The most common problem is that the pump's chuck simply hasn't been pressed all the way onto the valve stem. Sometimes wetting the stem or wiping it with liquid detergent helps the chuck slide on. Jul 26, 2020 at 18:19
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    The tube may also be faulty straight away. All the air that you pump inside escapes as fast as it gets in, the hissing sound.
    – Carel
    Jul 26, 2020 at 20:42

2 Answers 2


Even easier tests:

  • hold your thumb over the end of the hose and pump. You should feel pressure build.
  • visit your local bike shop - many of them have a self-service air pump somewhere outside for the convenience of customers.
  • visit a bike repair stand in your city, if you have one
  • visit a bike cooperative
  • ask a fellow cyclist if they can loan you a pump because yours isn't working
  • visit your local service station/gas station/petrol station. With care, you can use a car tyre inflater. It will only take a second so don't overdo it.

The obvious thing is to try a different tube and a different pump. Try your pump with a different tube and try your tube with a different pump.

Try to borrow some from your friends, neighbours or even ask in a bike shop if you can try some.

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