Best Car Tire Inflators
If only standard, everyday tires were designed to be puncture proof? Would that not be the “life”? Well, no matter how much technology manufacturers integrate into their car tires, this will always be an issue as no company has not made a mainstream puncture proof tire and as long as tires continue to be filled with air you will always need a tire inflator handy.
If you have finallydecided to stop borrowing your neighbour’s compressor, and invest in one for yourself, then you have come to the right place. We know that there are a number of tire inflators on the market and you could get lost in all the options, so we have done the research for you and listed the top ten car tire inflators of 2018 and explained why they are the best over the rest. Check out the list and, next time you have a flat tire, you will be prepared to get back on the road, hassle-free.
- SLIME 40022
- Never overfills
- VIAIR 88P
- Easy to use
- Cigarette lighter & Home plug
- LED worklight
10 Best Car Tire Inflators
All you need to do is select the proper tire pressure that you desire and when this inflator reaches it, it is programmed to automatically shut off.
When you are taking care of this compressor, its large cord compartment is convenient. But, as compared to other units, it is quite a bit bulkier.
Included with the actual car tire inflator are adaptors and they allow you to inflate a plethora of other objects.
Instead of having dual-power options, this machine will only plug into a 15-amp and 12-volt cigarette lighter receptacle. The option for plugging into an electrical outlet is not available.
As compared to the average air compressor that runs of 12 volts of power, this is relatively quiet. Furthermore, the implemented LED light ensures ultimate sight in the darkest environments.
Simply put, there is a lot to love about this machine. First off, it is much quieter than similar machines. Secondly, it has an auto-shutoff feature that can prevent over-inflation and finally, it can be powered by your car.
- Features an LED light for easy, nighttime use
- Can be used for car tires, sports balls, pool toys, etc.
- A few users have claimed this unit is slightly quieter than others
- The included manual is very poor
- Is a bit larger than other units of its capacity
The tire pressure can be monitored on the pressure gauge but only when the unit is turned off. Unfortunately, this is extremely limited but at least it is something.
You can use the included packaging box for storage and when you plan to transport it, it is very easy to do so in the trunk of your car given the compact size.
There are included adaptors to inflate other objects but for tires, it is rated to handle tires up to 33 inches in size.
This model from Viair has 12 volts of power and has a maximum pressure of 120 PSI. However, your car battery is needed to power this machine and the alligator clips are included.
While you have the ability to monitor your tire pressure, albeit when you switch the unit off, a few users have complained that the accuracy is off by three to four PSI.
It is not surprising that Viair is such an esteemed manufacturer in the world of air compressors. This particular model, while not perfect, is an ideal choice for anyone and a high recommendation.
- Great for tires up to 33 inches in size
- The build and longevity are superb
- The brass screw provides a secure seal with the valve stem
- A few users have claimed the PSI reading is inaccurate
- The unit can get very hot
Kensun designed their air compressor with digital preset functionality. What this provides for you is the confidence in knowing that your tires will never be over-inflated, granted you select the correct pressure needed.
A carrying bag is included with your investment and it has an integrated handle on the top. All the components will fit inside; however, the bottom section of the compressor does not have a flap to keep the cords secure.
Much like the other air compressors that have preceded it on this list, additional attachment nozzles are included. Combine this with the, previously alluded to, digital presets and you would be hard-pressed to find an object that this can’t inflate.
While this is not the most powerful air compressor in the world, with a maximum pressure of 90 PSI, it does come with dual-power options. As such, you can power it via an AC wall socket or DC cigarette lighter socket.
Designed in the front of this compressor is an LED light and when you can’t see anything, this will be a lifesaver. Past this, there is a digital pressure gauge on the top. But, because of its placement, you have to look at an angle to view it.
This is one of the more impressive air compressors that you can get your hands on, end of story. In terms of raw power, it may not be but as an overall design, it is both convenient and highly-portable.
- Included with the air compressor is a carrying bag
- Can be powered via an AC wall socket or DC cigarette lighter
- Features digital presets for setting ideal pressures
- The AC power cord is a bit short
- Due to the design of the display, you have to look at it at an angle
Black & Decker
This is yet another tire inflator that allows you to program how much air pressure you desire. As such, this will prevent you from over-inflating your tires if you select an appropriate pressure.
With a weight of just six pounds and a very compact exterior, this inflator was made for portability. It will easily fit into the backseat of your vehicle.
Past its obvious ability to inflate your low-pressure car tires, it can also add air to other items such as sports balls.
The capability of this machine to power from any electrical outlet and also the lighter socket in your vehicle allows it to be used in a variety of situations. Also, its maximum power of 160 PSI is solid.
Because the red-faced gauge is illuminated, it becomes possible to view it when the sun goes down. In addition, because the gauge keeps tabs on the current pressure, removing the hose to take readings is not necessary.
Black & Decker should be applauded for the design that they have put forth with their Air Station. A few caveats aside, such as the ridiculous power cord length, this remains a great car tire inflator.
- The integrated gauge measures the air pressure
- Can be powered by both an electrical outlet and a lighter socket
- Inflates other objects past car tires
- The power cord is pathetically short
- When the pump shuts off, you must unplug it to restart it
To ensure that you are always aware of the current inflation level, there is a built-in analog gauge for your convenience. As a side note, the gauge measures up to 150 PSI.
As this needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet, it may not be of much use in the middle of nowhere. However, even though it is heavy, it could still be transported anywhere with access to electricity.
At its core, this is capable of inflating your car tires. But, thanks to the adaptors, this is also a suitable option for providing much-needed air to your sports equipment and inflatable rafts.
This 120-volt direct drive inflator will plug into any standard 120-volt electrical outlet. Thanks to the voltage, the power provided will satisfy most users.
With Whisper Soft technology, the overall noise produced from this machine is kept to a minimum. In addition, the 18-foot air hose and six-foot power cord offer solid ranges.
While this is limited by its lone power source and may not be much use when you are stranded in the middle of the freeway, it is still an ideal tire inflator. After all, its power is proof enough for that.
- Features a 120-volt direct drive
- Has a rubber-protected quick-connect valve
- Its built-in analog gauge can measure up to 150 PSI
- Tends to vigorously move during operation
- Not the best for portability because of its weight and power source
To prevent the engine from overheating and thus leading to potential damage, there is an auto shutdown feature that has been integrated. While overheating should not normally be an issue, this prevents it in the rare case it is.
Not only does this have a convenient folding handle incorporated on the top but Slime also includes a carrying case with their inflator. Unfortunately, though, various users have pointed out that it is a relatively cheap plastic storage box.
To adapt to other objects past the tires on your vehicle, there are several adapters that are included. These adapters can allow you to inflate objects such as sports balls and pool rafts.
This machine can be powered by any 12-volt car battery or RV battery. When running, its two cylinders provide an optimal amount of power and is above-average for an inflator of its size.
You do not get to decide the time of day in which you may need a tire inflator. As such, the integrated LED light is ideal when using this machine during a nighttime emergency.
No matter what the situation calls for, this is the best car tire inflator that you can currently get your hands on. It is not impossible to haul around, it has a surprising amount of power for its size and it comes with several adapters.
- Comes equipped with twin cylinders for high performance
- It connects directly to a battery
- It is built for both portability and durability alike
- A few users have griped about the quick connect system
- The included plastic storage box is sub-par in terms of quality
This inflator could have more power as it is not as fast as some other inflators on our list, but it's compactness makes up for the power it lacks. It is able to get the job done - it just takes a little longer.
This tire inflator is quite compact and lightweight which makes the portability of this air compressor superb.
Compatibility is certainly not going to be an issue with this inflator. The included adapters make it a suitable solution when you need to add air to your camping (or other) equipment.
This inflator can only be used on DC 12V.
This unit is compact and lightweight, which makes it quite convenient since it does not take a lot of space up in your car and is easy to transport. It also has cool features like preventing overfilling and overheating.
Overall this is definitely a unit to consider if you are looking for a convenient portable inflator to keep you prepared for minor roadside emergencies. It's light, versatile, and won't take up a lot of space.
Comes with adaptors
Easy to use
Could be more powerful
It is still up to you to prevent over-inflation but, at least, there is a pressure gauge on this unit that should give you a good indication of when you should stop inflating.
Thanks to the steel handle and the integrated wheels for mobility, this is one of the most portable air compressors on the market.
As a compressor, this can be used to inflate your car tires and even provide air to your power tools. But, no additional connectors or adaptors are included and you will need to buy them separately.
Due to its maximum PSI of 125 and 120 voltage, this machine packs a powerful punch. Given that it can be powered by any 120-volt electrical outlet that works on a 15 amp circuit, it is better for home use.
As previously mentioned, this is headlined by its advertised slogan of being 50 percent quieter than comparable compressors. Additionally, it features an oil-free and maintenance-free pump.
Basically, this provides enough power to suit most everyone’s needs but does so while minimizing the amount of noise outputted by the compressor. All in all, that is a tough combination to pass up.
- It is backed by a one-year warranty
- Features an oil-free and maintenance-free pump
- The key design components are built to last “four times longer”
- It is not very stable when in use
- The lack of directions or documentation is frustrating
On the hose of the inflator, there is a pressure gauge that allows monitoring. It is still up to you to stop inflating your tires when they are filled, but the gauge will give you an idea of how close you are.
While a nylon carrying bag does come included with your purchase, this tire inflator is a bit on the heavy side. It is not impossible to lug around, but it will still work you.
Quick connect Type M air fittings are included with the self-coiling air hose. As far as the type of tires this beast can inflate, it can handle everything from standard care tires to agricultural tires.
Yet again, this machine gathers its power straight from your car battery and includes alligator clips for doing so. Also, because of the 60mm piston and high-strength cylinder, it packs a punch and can deliver 6400 cubic inches of airflow per minute.
As far as additional convenient features, there is not too much to assess here. However, some users may want a better rubber hose and if so, you can buy your own.
SuperFlow delivers a more than impressive car tire inflator and while it is heavier than others, its power and inflating capabilities are tremendous. No doubt, this is worth the price of admission.
- Can inflate industrial-sized tires
- Has a maximum airflow of 6400 cubic inches per minute
- It is equipped with a 60mm piston
- The unit has been known to get very hot
- Is a little heavy
Being fully programmable, you have the ability to set the desired pressure level and when the machine hits it, it will automatically shut off. Thus, it prevents over-inflation.
The overall design of this compressor pump is compact and when you need to use it, it is easy to both carry and lift. Also, it will take up little room in your car’s trunk.
Three different tips are included for your convenience and this allows you to inflate a multitude of different objects. Among these are sports equipment and inflatables adaptors.
This has a maximum operating voltage of 12 volts and can register a maximum 150 PSI. As far as how you power it, it comes equipped with a cigarette socket.
At night, not only does the LED screen light up for easy viewing but integrated LED lights also make it easier to use, as a whole. But, the screen can be difficult to see in bright daylight.
In terms of modern car tire inflators, this one perfectly fits the bill. It has an integrated LED interface and can be programmed to prevent over-inflation. Think of this as a technology geek’s air compressor.
- Operated by a one-touch switch
- Is powered via a cigarette lighter making it ideal for most situations
- Before being released, it passed repeated safety testings
- The cord is a bit on the short side
- In the daylight, the LED screen can be difficult to see
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
The Precaution Technology
Probably the most important mistake you need to avoid when you are inflating your car tires is to make sure you never fill them with too much air. If you were not aware before then yes, this is not recommended. Doing so will cause the sidewalls and the tread to be harder than they are typically. Thus, this can reduce the amount of traction and the performance of the tire. In short, it is a big fat no-no. So, how do you avoid this? Besides understanding the recommended maximum PSI of your current tires, this is why some manufacturers design their inflators to be programmed.
With these tire inflators, you can select the desired tire pressure you want and once the machine has reached this pressure, it will shut off to prevent any more air from entering in. But, what do you do if your machine does not have this? Granted it at least has a pressure gauge that allows you to monitor your tire pressure, you can stop when enough air has been inflated.
Part of the reason why air compressors and tire inflators are highly recommended is in emergency situations. Look, pumping air into a flat tire is not going to permanently fix the issue you have if there is a hole present. However, it could provide enough air for you to get to a mechanical shop for assistance if you do not have the tools to change your tire. As so, portability is going to be an important buying aspect to assess. For tire inflators, it comes down to a few areas. Firstly, how large and heavy is the air compressor? If you have limited storage space in your vehicle, you may want to aim for a smaller and more compact compressor. As far as weight is concerned, some people may not want to lug around an extremely heavy piece of equipment.
However, even though this will also be addressed later, the portability can also be dependent on the power options. If it can’t be powered by your car, whether by the battery or via the cigarette lighter, it will be of little use to you without access to an electrical output. Of course, it could be if you have a dedicated 12-volt accessory outlet in your car.
Other Types of Objects It Can Inflate
This guide is tailored towards air compressors and inflators that are designed to inflate your car tires. However, that does not mean that these same machines are limited to just that. If the correct adapters and nozzles are included, they can also be used to inflate a plethora of other objects. For example, with a small infiltration needle, you could inflate your favorite sports balls (footballs, basketballs, soccer balls, etc.). However, certain adapters will also allow you to power up your swimming rafts and inflatable toys. Gone will be the days of blowing air into them manually.
Of course, though, at their core, they are perfect for inflating your car tires. Most will account for standard tires but if you wanted one to inflate much larger tires (say agricultural tires), they need to be rated to do so. Some, not all, will state the maximum size tire their compressor can handle.
Power and Power Sources
When you analyze the power of a car tire inflator, you need to assess two main areas. For one, it is important to invest in an air compressor that suits your needs, in terms of power. For example, whether you want a compressor that is run off of 12 volts or one that is run off of 120 volts of electricity. What is the difference? Well, most American homes will use 120-volt electrical outputs. This is, more or less the standard for American homes. As such, your appliances can be run off this voltage. But, 12 volts is a lot less and relegated to smaller electrical needs such as outdoor lighting.
However, even more, vital is how the inflator is powered. As you saw throughout this guide, this can be via a plethora of methods and include an AC wall socket, cigarette lighter socket, and even your car’s battery. Question is, which one is right for you? The only issue with a tire inflator that only runs off an electrical outlet is if you do not have access to one, it can’t be used. But, if it only can be powered by your car and you wanted to use the machine for something else entirely, you would have to have your car nearby. The best option is to invest in one that has a multitude of power options.
Further Convenient Features
This last section is devoted to outside features that were not quite important enough to warrant their own sections. However, this does not mean they are not important. For starters, a situation may arise when you need to utilize a tire inflator at night. If this happens, some sort of LED lighting and display is ideal so you can see what you are doing. Also, what about the noise? Pretty much every single air compressor is going to produce a decent amount of noise. But, limiting this to tolerable could be important to you.
A few other factors to consider would be the accuracy of the pressure gauge and the cord lengths. The former is clearly vital as what good is an indicator that is consistently inaccurate? But, you can’t slight at the cord lengths either. With power cords, there is always the option of using an extension cord but it is a little tougher with a cigarette lighter socket. In other words, the longer the cord the better.
Q: Should You Have The Car Engine On When Using a Tire Inflator?
As you now know, some tire inflators can receive their power from your car’s battery. When you clamp the alligator clips on your battery, however, should you start your engine afterward? Unfortunately, this question does not have a straight-up answer because it simply depends on the manufacturer’s recommendations. As one company alludes to, their inflator is designed to run off of a 12-volt battery, running the engine can increase the voltage of the battery. Thus, they advise you to leave your keys in the ignition in the position where all the accessories are powered.
But, others have stated that they recommend starting your engine while using their air compressor to achieve optimal performance. From one manufacturer to the next, this is going to vary so you can’t assume one way or another. As such, do some research as you need to hear the answer from the horse’s mouth.
Q: How Long Can a Tire Inflator Run For?
This could be thought of as a trick question. After all, granted your tire inflator has access to its power source, it could run until its heart could not beat anymore. However, they will reach a certain point and then they will need to take a break. Speaking for most, this could be anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. Truthfully, this should be enough to fill all four of your tires up (assuming they are not completely low with air) with air but if it is not, you may want to check the temperature of the unit.
If you notice that it is getting excessively hot and beginning to overheat, then shut it down and give it a good rest. Of course, if you invest in a tire inflator that has auto-shutoff protection when the motor begins to overheat, you will never have to worry about this.
Q: What to Do When the Hose Will Not Reach a Tire?
The importance of the cord lengths, and also the hose, has been alluded to. That still does not answer the question, however, of what to do when the hose is too short to reach a certain tire. If you do not have an extension cord, or the compressor is powered by your car, and the hose will not reach your rear tires, here is what you can do. Starting with the easier option, sometimes you will be able to find an extension. Take, for example, Viair as they offer an extra-long air hose that can be combined with the original. This will deliver more than double the original length and should then properly accommodate for your rear tires.
If this is not an option, though, you could also opt for splicing an extension wire. This will take a bit more effort on your part but if the first option is scratched, you can look up tutorials on how to splice wire.
Q: Could a Lawn Mower Battery Power a Tire Inflator?
Perhaps, it is not your car tires that need to be inflated but your lawn mower tires, snowblower tires, etc. In this case, it would prove beneficial to be able to hook up the alligator clamps to your machine’s battery and run the compressor from there. Can you? It depends on a few factors. For one, obviously, it must be designed to be run off of a battery. Second, and less obvious, the battery in your machine needs to be compatible with what the air compressor calls for.
So, if it needs to be charged with a 12-volt DC battery and this is not what your machine has, it is best to not do it.
Q: The Pressure Gauge Is Inaccurate, What Do You Do?
The pressure gauge and its importance have already been brought to your attention. It was previously stated that assessing how accurate it is can be important. If you know for a fact that it is giving you improper readings, though, what are you supposed to do? This is a simple answer but it is the only true one. All you need to do is carry with you’re a regular pressure gauge as this will provide you with consistent PSI readings. It may be more of a hassle to constantly check but at the end of the day, the old cliché reigns true: it is better to be safe than sorry.
But, if you are receiving inaccurate readings, it may be because you need to shut the compressor off. If left on, it could be reading both its input and output pressure and thus, leading to inaccuracy.
Q: Are Tire Inflators Waterproof?
It is interesting that this question is brought up; considering that not one of the highlighted tire inflators has been waterproof. One would think, then, that this answer would be a definitive no. It just so happens, however, that there are actually waterproof air compressors in the world. For example, Kleinn Automotive has designed one and indeed, it can be exposed to the elements with no worry of its components being compromised. The reason they were able to achieve a waterproof design is that they added seals everywhere throughout the compressor. For the most part, though, this is not a type of machine that is generally waterproof.
So, is there a main point that you need to take away from this? Not necessarily but know this, a tire inflator is a useful machine and throughout your life, it is almost guaranteed that you will eventually have the need for one so it is best to be prepared. Becoming less ignorant about them is ideal and if you take what you have learned from this guide, it will provide you with the foundation that you need to make a wise investment. So drive safe and if you ever run into a flat, you will be back on the road in no time with your new tire inflator.