Walking out the front door this morning, I noticed our car had a flat tire. The nearest gas station to our house with an air pump is about two miles away. The closest Discount Tire shop is located approximately four miles from our house. I've changed enough car tires over the years to know that while the process isn't complicated, it still takes a good 20-30 minutes from start to finish for jacking, removing the lugs, pulling out the spare, replacing the tire, tightening it up and putting away all of the equipment...time that I didn't have due to a morning meeting.
I contemplated driving the two miles to the gas station on the flat, but backing out the driveway and hearing the custom rim grrrrind on the concrete wasn't very encouraging.
Instead, I decided to try and fill the tire with air using my Specialized Air Tool bike pump.
I had heard of people re-filling their car tires with bike pumps, but never experienced the need or situation to try. I was surprised how simple the filling process was. I locked the pump onto the tire valve and started pumping--just like I would for a bike tire. It took about 60-70 pumps, but the air went in easily and I was able to get 40 psi (the tire's maximum psi is 50) forced inside after about 5 minutes (much quicker than messing with the spare). I tossed my bike pump into the trunk just in case I needed to refill and drove to my meeting without further problems.
Later in the day I drove to Discount Tire (on the same air) and had the faulty tire replaced.
So, keep your bike pump in mind as a useful alternative air source for temporary fills. You'll need a Schrader head on your pump as auto tires are not built with presta valves. Some pumps, like the Specialized I have are dual-headed (i.e., they work on both valves).
Final thought: When replacing automobile tires, consider paying a little extra for free tire replacement programs. For $20, Discount Tire will replace any tires damaged from potholes (look for lumps on the sidewall) for free.