Best Tire Inflators – Buyer’s Guide
All of us at some point have had the stressful experience of having a tire running low on air. If the tire is punctured, it will have to be changed out with a spare, but much of the time it can be remedied by simply filling it back up with an air pump. When on the road, however, finding an air pump at a gas station can be challenging. This is why many people own their own tire inflator. To help you find the best tire inflator we’ve compiled a list of five handpicked air compressors and included some information at the bottom of this article to give you a clear picture of what kind of compressor you might need.
Best Tire Inflators of 2018
|Product||Power source||Cable length||Hose length||Adapters||Light||Weight, pounds||Dimensions|
|Viair 88P Portable Air Compressor (Editor's Choice)||12V DC||10 Ft.||16 Ft.||3 pcs||4.5||6.8 x 6.2 x 10.8 in|
|Kensun A58A AC/DC Portable Inflator||110V AC, 12V DC||AC - 5ft 10.8in |
DC - 10ft 9.9in
|23.6 in||2 pcs||+||5||11.8 x 4.3 x 6.7 in|
|Viair 400P-RV Automatic Compressor Kit||12V DC||8 Ft.||60 Ft.||3 pcs||18.9||10.9 x 5.8 x 7.5 in|
|Slime Heavy Duty Tire Inflator||12V DC||8 Ft.||22 Ft.||3 pcs||+||8.65||12 x 9.1 x 6.5 in|
|Ryobi One+ P737 Cordless Inflator||Works with all Ryobi 18-volt one+ batteries||-||-||3 pcs||1.6 (without battery)||9 x 2.9 x 6.4 in|
1. Viair 88P Portable Air Compressor – Best Car Tire Inflator with Gauge for Small ATVs, Trucks, SUVs and Sedans
The first air compressor on our list is the Viair 88P portable air compressor. Viair prioritizes functionality in their designs, and the model 88P is no different. This compact air compressor comes in at just under 11 inches in length, is about 7 inches in height, and measures just over 6 inches in width. This inflator features a simple stainless steel look for the pump components with a rubberized carrying handle at the top that also has a pressure gauge built into it. The pressure gauge is easy to read and is next to the LED light that acts as an indicator to show that the device is receiving power.
The Viair 88P is designed to draw power from a standard 12-volt car battery to operate. It features two alligator clamps which hold on to the terminals on your car battery and has a cable that can reach up to 10 feet from the pump to the battery. In addition to the 10-foot power cable, this pump has a 16-foot air hose, making it easy to reach all the tires on your vehicle without necessarily having to move the pump itself. This air compressor draws up to 20 amps from your car battery and will not operate with less than 15 amps. The engine on your vehicle must be running during use in order to prevent the air compressor from draining your battery and to keep the compressor supplied with a continuous flow of electricity. The 88P can pump up to 1.47 cubic feet per minute of air, and can inflate up to 33-inch tires at pressures of up to 120 PSI, making it great for ATVs, trucks, SUVs, and sedans.
- Can pressurize tires as large as 33 inches up to 120 psi
- Compact and portable
- Must be powered by a car battery
2. Kensun A58A AC/DC Portable Inflator – Best 120V/12V Digital Inflator for RVs and Trailers
Next, we’re taking a look at the Kensun A58A air compressor and tire inflator that can draw power from either the direct current from a car, or the alternating current that comes from home outlets. This compressor features a lightweight and aesthetically pleasing design that is sheathed in a black casing that comes with a carry handle as well as a flashlight on the front to help you inflate tires easily in low light. The compressor unit has a plug at the back which can be connected to either of the included cables, one of which is for a 110-volt wall outlet in the home, while the other can plug into a 12-volt car cigarette lighter.
This compressor is phenomenally easy-to-use, thanks to the small LCD display that shows what pressure the item you’re pumping is currently at, as well as what pressure you have the device set to. Once the pump reaches the desired pressure that you set, it will automatically stop pumping and go into standby. The included DC power cable for cars comes in at 10 ft and 9 inches in length, while the home cable for wall outlets comes in at only six feet in length. The Kensun A58A has a considerable speed for inflating items of 30 liters a minute of air but struggles at higher air pressures. The maximum pressure that this device can reach is 90 PSI, and its ability to accurately measure begins to degrade substantially at around 70 PSI. This makes this pump less ideal for inflating high-pressure bike or car tires, but extremely convenient for inflating things such as beach balls or tires that operate at pressures less than around 60 PSI. This air compressor also comes with a variety of pump attachments that will allow you to easily inflate almost anything.
- Can run on either AC current from home wall outlets or DC current from a car cigarette lighter
- Features an easy to read LCD display and automatically shuts off when the object being pumped up reaches the desired pressure
- Not accurate when reading higher pressures and can only pump up to 90 psi
3. Viair 400P-RV Automatic Compressor Kit – Best 12V Digital Car Tyre Inflator for Cars and Motorcycles
The next air pump on our list is another model from Viair, this time we’re taking a look at the 400P-RV. This compressor is ideal for those who own an RV or other vehicle that uses very high-pressure tires and packs and an incredible amount of power into a very small package. Visually, this model is very similar to the 88P we looked at and has a simple stainless steel pump with a foam covered handle at the top. The pressure gauge on this model is placed on the included gas station style tire inflation gun that reads up to 160 PSI.
The included inflation gun has a handle on it that shuts off the pump when you are not using it, which saves you several trips when checking the pressure and moving from tire to tire, and prevents the pump from wearing out. Much like the first Viair inflator we looked at on our list, this pump runs directly off of the 12-volt car battery using alligator clamps that are attached to an 8-foot power cable. This model, however, is capable of pressurizing tires up to 150 psi and runs at an impressive 2.3 cubic feet per minute of air flow. This kit also comes with an air hose as well as an air hose extension, which combine for up to 60 feet of hose length making it easy to fill up the tires of even a long RV or trailer. This pump draws substantial amounts of power and runs at up to 30 amps, meaning it will be important to keep the engine of your vehicle running during used to provide ample power and prevent your battery from being drained.
- Has a total of 60 feet of hose length
- Can pressurize tires up to 150 psi
- Draws power directly from car batter and vehicle must be on during use
4. Slime Heavy Duty Tire Inflator – Best 12 Volt Auto Tire Inflator
If you’re looking for an air compressor that can inflate your tires quickly, then the Slime heavy duty tire inflator is a great option. This air compressor uses a dual cylinder mechanism that allows it to inflate tires in as little as 2 minutes from completely flat to fully pressurize. A double piston design makes this compressor slightly larger than the others on our list, but not excessively unwieldy as it comes in at just over a foot in length. This extra size is somewhat mitigated by the fact that it comes with its own carry case that also makes room for all of the included accessories.
This tire pump is another model which draws its power directly from a car battery using a pair of alligator clamps that are attached directly to the terminals of your vehicle’s battery. The included hose has a 30-foot reach, as well as an in-line pressure gauge for easily determining whether your tires are done inflating or still need more air. This inflator also boasts a very bright LED light, which is excellent in emergencies for illuminating what you’re doing and makes it easy to get your tires up to the right pressure and get your vehicle back on the road safely. The Slime tire inflator also comes with three different adapters for inflating tires or other inflatables and is also certified to be tire sensor safe so you don’t have to worry about damaging your vehicle’s sensors.
- Can inflate tires up to 150 psi
- Bright LED light built in for safety at night and in emergencies
- Dual piston design ensures quick inflation
- Is powered directly from car battery
5. Ryobi One+ P737 Cordless Inflator – Best Cordless Rechargeable Tire Inflator
The last air pump we’ll be taking a look at is the Ryobi P737 One+. This air pump is the only one on our list that boasts cordless operation and instead uses a battery so it can inflate things just about anywhere. The design is extremely compact and has similar ergonomics to many of the other tools Ryobi designs. It features a long handle with a battery that slides into the bottom, and a short hose coming out of the front with an easy to read a pressure gauge on the back. The device is operated with a simple trigger on the front of the handle and has an easy to attach hose tip that locks into place on the tire.
This inflator works with the 18-volt One+ batteries from Ryobi, but the batteries and charger are sold separately from this device. This is great if you already own other tools that use these batteries, but can be inconvenient for someone who doesn’t already own other Ryobi tools. The compact design of this air compressor is great for fitting in tight spaces or corners, but it’s still powerful enough to inflate things up to 150 psi. The hose coming off of the One+ is only 20 inches in length, but comes with three different attachments for inflating a variety of different objects.
- Battery operated design makes it incredibly portable
- Easy to use with clear pressure gauge on the back
- Only work with Ryobi One+ batteries which are not included
- Air hose is only 20 inches in length
There are several factors that differentiate one air pump from another, and knowing your specific needs will determine which of the air pumps on our list is right for you. Below, we’ll go over the main details that you should be looking at when choosing an air pump, which includes where the inflator draws it’s power when operating, how quickly the pump supplies airflow, how much reach the pump has, and finally how much pressure the air compressor can actually provide.
All of the tire inflators on our list are relatively portable and lightweight, but a big factor that determines how versatile they are is where they draw their power. The power supply for an air compressor is the first thing you should really be considering when choosing the right one for your needs since this largely determines where and when you’ll be able to use it. Three out of the five air pumps on our list use alligator clamps that grab directly onto the terminals of a car battery in order to power themselves. If you are specifically looking for an air pump to use as a tire inflator or one to keep in your car, these models are a great option since you will always have the necessary power supply with you if you keep the tire inflator in your car and ever need to use it in an emergency.
The first air pump on our list that does not use a car battery is the Kensun A58A, which features two different power cables that can be plugged into it. One of these cables is designed to plug into a standard wall outlet in a home, while the other is designed to plug into the cigarette lighter of a car. This gives you the option to either inflate things in your house, such as beach balls, or inflate things from a car’s power, which can be great when inflating tires. The other option on our list if you were looking for a compressor that does not use a car battery for power is the Ryobi One+, which is a portable inflator that uses no cords but instead, draws its power from a battery. This makes it incredibly convenient and able to inflate things almost anywhere as long as you have a charged battery with you.
The next thing to consider when shopping for an air compressor is how quickly the compressor can actually put out air and inflate a tire or other objects. If quick inflation is a high priority for you, for example, if you plan to use the pump in an emergency and want to get back on the road, or if you’re inflating very large tires such as on an SUV or RV, then either the Viair 400P-RV or the Slime heavy duty inflator are great options. The Viair 400P-RV is definitively the fastest pump on our list and can pump air at up to 2.3 cubic feet per minute at pressures of up to 150 psi making it the fastest pump we looked at. This means that even with multiple very large and very low on air tires you can be back on the road in a matter of minutes. Alternatively, the Slime heavy duty inflator uses a dual piston design to pump air twice as fast as a normal air compressor making it nearly as fast as the Viair 400P. The Slime compressor boasts an average inflation time of only 2 minutes to get a tire from completely flat to fully inflated.
The third major factor to consider when looking at tire inflators is how much pressure you’ll have to put into the tires, or anything else you’re trying to inflate. The tires on most cars run somewhere around 30 to 35 PSI with some vehicles running as high as 40 PSI. Any of the pumps on our list are capable of easily handling pressure is at this level. Some larger vehicles, however, such as sedans and especially RVs require much higher pressures. Most RVs run their tires at 80 psi and some vehicles go even higher than that. It’s best to check the tires of whatever you’re planning to inflate before purchasing an air compressor to make sure that the one you decide on will be able to pressurize them to the appropriate level, but even the weakest inflator on our list, the Kensun A58A, can operate at pressures of up to 90 PSI, so finding a compressor that is strong enough for your needs on our list shouldn’t be an issue.
The last thing we feel the need to point out is that the length of the hoses on different tire inflators can vary wildly, and depending on the size of your vehicle this can present an issue. Some of the air pumps on our list feature hoses that are as short as 10 feet, which is not nearly long enough to reach from the front to the back of something like an RV or a vehicle that is towing a trailer. If you have a long vehicle, or regularly tow trailers that need their tires to be pumped up, then the best option on our list is the Viair 400P-RV compressor kit. This kit comes with an air hose as well as an extension that offer a combined 60 feet of length on top of the already considerably long power cable. This incredible length that makes it possible to reach every tire on an RV or trailer without having to move the compressor which is not only convenient but can be essential in emergency situations.
Filling up a tire that’s low on air is not only a safety concern but can also serve to improve the fuel efficiency of your vehicle, as well as traction and overall performance. If you’ve ever found yourself in need of an air pump and had to look for one at a gas station then you already know how difficult it can be to find one when on the road. For this reason, there are a variety of portable air pumps available on the market. The tire inflators we’ve highlighted on this list were handpicked for one reason or another, and we hope that our buyer’s guide has given you a clear idea of which one is best for you. Regardless of which of the inflators you pick off our list, we’re sure you’ll be pleased with your purchase and it will serve you well for many years.