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I've always kept a foot pump in the back of my car in case of emergencies or just to put the odd bit of air into my tyres when it's been needed. Previously, I've always had a double barrelled one since these pump air faster. Given how little I use a pump, though, when my last one gave up the ghost, I decided to replace it with a single barrel AutoCare one.
Despite the one star rating, there are a few good things about this pump. The first is the price. I bought mine from Asda (it's also available from places like Wilkinson's or Amazon) for £5, which seemed pretty reasonable. It comes with a couple of adapters thrown in, making it suitable for car tyres, bike tyres, airbeds, footballs etc, so it's pretty versatile.
Because this is a single barrel pump, it is fairly compact and as such, ideal to store in the back of the car since it doesn't take up a great deal of room. The pump also comes boxed, so when packed away properly only needs a tiny bit of storage space. As such, it was perfect for me, since I didn't want to be lugging a great big thing around in the boot of my car.
Initially, I was quite impressed with the pump. The pressure gauge is clear and easy to read. The various markings on the gauge stand out well, even when viewed from a distance and the needle is pretty accurate too. With previous pumps I have had, it has sometimes been difficult to get an exact reading, but this one is pretty accurate. The wire that attaches the pump to the tyre is also a reasonable length, allowing you to get the pump into a comfortable position for use. So far, so good!
I was also impressed with the speed with which this transferred air into the tyre. My main fear about moving to a single barrel pump was that it would take a lot longer to inflate tyres to the correct pressure, since you are effectively pumping at half the capacity. In fact, this seemed a lot more efficient than my previous double barrel pump and took a lot less time to inflate the tyres. In fact, the first time I used it, I wondered whether the pressure gauge was faulty, since it took hardly any pumping before it got to the right pressure. However, my trusty digital tyre pressure gauge confirmed the reading was, in fact, correct. A good start!
Sadly, things went rather downhill from here. I was aware when I bought the pump that it wasn't the sturdiest in the world. The metal frame is fairly thin, but seemed OK on first use. The pump was stable, even when used on a pavement or roadside and the pump mechanism didn't feel like an aerobic workout for the legs (unlike some I've used which have been incredibly stiff and awkward to use)
Unfortunately, the second time I used it the thin metal frame turned out to be the pump's downfall. Part-way through using it, it fell over. Initially I thought it had simply over-balance... until I started trying to use it again and realised that the whole top section of the metal frame had bent completely out of shape meaning it. This rendered it unusable, since it was no longer possible to press it down and get air pumping through the compressor. Bear in mind this was just the second time that I used it and you can understand the disappointment.
Unfortunately, it turns out that AutoCare's customer service is not much better. Although I had only used it twice, by the time it broke, the Asda guarantee had long since expired and the receipt had been thrown away. So, I wrote to Autocare to let them know what had happened and they weren't particularly interested. They wrote back and told I would have to return the pump to them and they would send it to their laboratories for testing. There was no mention about what would happen after that, what would happen if the pump was found to be faulty or even how long this might all take. The only promise made in the letter was that they would "share the results with me" (Gosh! How kind!) Given that the pump is pretty heavy, it would have cost more to post back than was paid for it in the first place and the letter from AutoCare made no reference to refunding this postage (even if the pump proved faulty). I wrote back to AutoCare asking them about this, but so far (6 weeks and counting), they have not replied. So, unless I want to be even further out of pocket, it appears I have little option but to accept that my pump is effectively useless after just two uses.
It's possible that I just got unlucky and picked up a faulty pump, but in light of my experience, there's no way I'm going to buy another one to test that theory. On the basis of my experience of its build quality and the" customer care" I have received, there is just no way I could recommend this pump to anyone. I knew it wasn't the greatest in the world when I bought it and I was prepared to accept that, since I only needed one for occasional use. I did expect it to last for more than two uses, though. Even with an RRP of just £5, my experience of this pump worked out at £2.50 a time - and that makes it pretty expensive.