8 Best Air Compressors (Tire Inflators) of 2021
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Most drivers have noticed a warning light on their dashboard indicating a tire with low pressure. If the light remains on after a minute or so of driving, it’s time to check your tire. You have the option of paying for air at the gas station pump or using your trusty tire inflator to fix the problem yourself.
When you’re in a panic, the appropriate tire inflator is just the ticket, whether it’s battery-operated, 110-volt electric, or one that plugs into your car’s 12-volt system. These noisy day-savers can quickly restore a low tire to its proper pressure.
Choosing the right tire inflator for your needs ensures that your car runs as efficiently as possible. Tires with low pressure can cause a variety of problems, including poor gas mileage and a bad ride experience. Rather, equip yourself with one of the best tire inflators from this list.
What to Consider When Choosing The Best Tire Inflator?
It’s helpful to have some background knowledge when comparing options. This section will go over the most important factors to consider when buying a tire inflator. Pay attention to these variables when making your decision, from power supply to readability.
- Power Source
To fill your tire, tire inflators use electric motors and pumps. To do so, they’ll need a power source, and there are two types: corded and cordless.
12V corded inflators connect to your vehicle’s 12V jack and run on the car’s battery. Some, like jumper cables, may clip straight to the battery. Twelve-volt inflators are convenient because they don’t require a separate battery to operate. The inflator can run as long as the car’s battery is charged.
While most corded inflators are powered by 12V, some versions can operate on both 12V and 110V. These devices are powered by plugging them into an outlet.
The motor and pump are powered by rechargeable batteries, which are used in cordless inflators. Some cordless inflators feature built-in batteries that can be charged through USB or 110V power, while others have batteries that can be removed.
Because they don’t require an external power source to fill a tire, cordless inflators give a lot more freedom than a 12V charger. As a result, they’re equally adept at filling bike tires and sports equipment as they are at inflating car tires.
Pressure essentially equals speed when it comes to tire inflators. The faster a tire inflator can inflate a tire, the higher the pressure it can produce. Look for a compressor with at least 100 PSI to prevent wasting time when filling a tire. An inflator with a maximum pressure of 150 PSI, on the other hand, will get it up and running even faster. Most tire inflators can fill your car’s tire to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure of 30 to 40 PSI.
- Gauge Readability
To get the maximum wear and mileage out of your car tires, fill them to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure level. Typically, this is roughly 35 PSI.
A tire inflator requires an easy-to-read gauge to properly inflate the tire. The easiest are inflators with digital gauges, especially if they have a light in the backdrop (known as backlit). Analog gauges, on the other hand, can be used if their faces feature large numerals. However, because most analog gauges lack a backlight, they can be difficult to read in low-light circumstances.
- Automatic Shutoff
Small air compressors are tough devices, but if they run for too long, they can overheat. Manufacturers include built-in automatic shut-off capabilities to preserve their tire inflators.
Pressure, temperature, and time are the three measures that a tire inflator can take before shutting off automatically. A pressure shutdown is especially useful since it can be set to the desired pressure, and once the tire achieves it, the inflator will stop pumping air. Similarly, if the tire inflator reaches a dangerous temperature (usually around 200 degrees Fahrenheit), it will turn off until it cools down. After a predetermined length of time, usually around 15 minutes, a built-in shutdown could initiate a cool-down procedure.
- Hose Length
Tripping over a lengthy, twisted hose isn’t much better than trying to fill a tire with a short hose. The best tire inflator is one with a 16- to a 20-inch hose, which is long enough to reach most tires but still manageable.
Look for a tire inflator with a coiled hose if you want a longer, more controllable hose. These hoses can stretch far enough to fill all four tires without having to move the compressor. Off-road enthusiasts and bigger vehicles such as pickup trucks and SUVs can benefit greatly from these inflators.
- Weight and Portability
People prefer a tire inflator to a normal air compressor because they’re lighter and more portable, which is a good reason. A tire inflator usually weighs less than a pound, making it easy to handle in one hand.
A tire inflator might be useful while going on a road trip, albeit trunk capacity can be limited on longer trips. An inflator that is small enough to fit in the trunk without taking up crucial space for luggage or food is ideal. The majority of tire inflators meet this requirement however, smaller variants take up very little room.
- Ease of Use
If the tire pressure warning light flashes, indicating that pressure has been lost overnight, the solution must be quick and simple, which necessitates the employment of an easy-to-use tire inflator? While most tire inflators are designed to be easy, there are a few features that can make them even easier to use. A programmable pressure regulator, for example, will prevent the tire from being overfilled. Without needing to remove the hose to check with a separate tire gauge, a built-in pressure gauge reveals how much pressure is going into the tire.
List of Best Air Compressors/Tire Inflators
It’s time to start comparing the top products now that you know what to look for when shopping for one of the best tire inflators for your needs. This section contains a list of some of the greatest tire inflators available. This list takes into account the aforementioned criteria, such as convenience and portability, as well as pressure and power source.
Makita 12V Max CXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Inflator
The Makita 12V Max CXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Inflator is a battery-powered type that can inflate a car, bike, or tractor tire to 120 PSI. There’s no need to haul a massive, bulky compressor to the tire because it’s small and light. The high-visibility pressure gauge displays the exact amount of air in the tire. The machine even switches off automatically when the tire reaches the desired PSI because it is pre-programmed. It’s worth noting that the Makita 12V batteries are offered separately.
Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ Portable Cordless Power Inflator
This is a lightweight, small battery-operated tire inflator that can inflate a tire up to 150 PSI. It has two additional needles for blowing up pool toys and athletic balls, and it has a pistol-grip design that is ergonomic and comfortable to operate. It weighs less than 2.5 pounds and has a 20-inch snap-on hose for normal tire valves.
In daylight, the 2-inch gauge is simple to read; but, a digital readout would elevate this inflator to the top of the heap. In the dark, reading an analog gauge requires two hands: one for the compressor and one for the flashlight. Batteries for the Ryobi 18V are supplied separately.
CRAFTSMAN V20 Inflator with Lithium-Ion Battery
The CRAFTSMAN V20 Inflator with Lithium-Ion Battery is a good alternative if you want a high-quality tire inflator with a lot of power options. This inflator operates on 110V or 12V power and includes a 4-Ah battery for reliable performance. A 20-inch hose, a digital pressure gauge with a regulator, and integrated cord and hose storage are included with this inflator.
The unit can reach a maximum pressure of 160 PSI, which is sufficient for filling car and truck tires. This inflator’s automatic shutdown will turn off the compressor once it reaches the desired pressure, reducing the risk of over-inflating your tires.
AstroAI Portable Air Compressor Pump
The 12-volt battery system in a car drives the AstroAI tire inflates. Connect it to the car’s 12V jack and activate the accessory mode to get the power you need to deal with a flat tire—at least long enough to get it to a tire shop for repair. It also has an LED lamp for increased visibility. This compact pump comes with adapters for pool floats and sports balls and fits in practically any trunk. The pressure gauge with backlighting is also very easy to read.
The AstroAI tire inflator has a maximum pressure of 100 PSI. While this is sufficient for most tires, it does not reach higher PSI levels than those other compressors on this list.
AstroAI Digital Tire Inflator with Pressure Gauge
You don’t need one of the tire inflators on this list if you already have an air compressor. Instead, they can utilize this AstroAI tire inflator accessory. This valve features a threaded brass fitting, a comfortable squeeze trigger, and a backlit digital gauge that is easy to read. When the digital gauge detects pressure, it automatically turns on and shuts off after 20 seconds. This valve can withstand up to 250 PSI, which is sufficient to fill most tires. It has a 1/4-inch quick-connect connection that clamps onto most air hoses with ease.
Kensun Portable Air Compressor Pump
The Kensun air compressor is a portable air compressor and tire inflator that operates on 12V power from a car and 110V power from a home. A needle for sports balls and an adapter for blowing up pool floats and other inflatables are included in this set. It has a maximum pressure of 120 PSI and will run for 30 minutes before automatically switching off.
This tire inflator is unlikely to be powerful enough to inflate a vehicle tire from zero pressure. The 30-minute duration is a safety feature, but with this low pressure of 120 PSI, it will most likely shut off before the tire fully inflates.
CYCPLUS Portable Air Compressor Mini Inflator
This tiny inflator from Cycplus is a fantastic alternative for a tire inflate that fits conveniently in a glove compartment or bag. This little pump is only about 7 inches long, but it can fill automobile tires, motorbike tires, or sports equipment to 150 PSI. It also includes a digital pressure gauge and an LED flashlight. It charges in two and a half hours and can be used as a portable power bank to charge cell phones and other electrical devices. Onboard storage for the air tube and other equipment is also provided.
VIAIR 400P Portable Compressor
The Viair 400P is a good alternative for four-wheeling types like Jeep and truck owners who want to boost their tires back up after a day of rock crawling. Because it doesn’t require an onboard 12-volt jack, this 12-volt compressor is ideal for stripped-down off-road vehicles. Once clamped onto the battery terminals, the accompanying alligator clips deliver the necessary power. A coiled air hose and a high-quality tire valve are also included.
The Viair compressor inflates tires up to 150 PSI and comes with a heavy-duty carrying box. The 400P is fixed to a piece of aluminum diamond plate for true heavy-duty use.
How To Use a Tire Inflator?
- Fill your tire to the recommended pressure: Check the sidewall of a tire before filling it to see what pressure the manufacturer recommends. This is normally between 30 and 40 PSI in vehicles and trucks. Filling a tire to this level ensures even tread wear, a smooth ride, and greater gas mileage.
- Check for punctures in the tire if your inflator isn’t building pressure: If a tire inflator is having trouble moving, it may not be the inflator’s fault. A puncture or severe wear may have caused a hole in the tire. If the inflator isn’t able to build pressure as it should, make sure you inspect the tire.
- Use an adapter to fill bike tires with Presta valves: When trying to inflate a bike tire, the inflator’s hose may not latch onto the valve stem; this could be due to the bike’s stem being of a different style. Schrader valves are used in most vehicle and bike tires, though certain cycling tires utilize Presta valves, which may require an adaptor.
Even though a tire inflator is one of the most basic items for your vehicle, there are a variety of types available with different features.
That’s all for the list of best air compressors/tire inflators. You can check out our shopping guides section to make more such well informed buying decisions and save huge money on online and offline purchases.