Top 10 Best Portable Air Pump for Car Tires in 2018 (Ultimate Review and Buyer’s Guide)Reading Time: 10 minutes
You might be wondering where your car tire pressure disappears to, a few hours after refilling yet you recently bought new tires.
The truth is that there are many causes of tire pressure loss, most of which are subtle, such as temperature changes, a leaking tire valve steam or the tire getting an unnoticeable prick while on the road.
An under-inflated car tire is a hazard on the road as it compromises functions such as traction and braking distance, affecting your control of the car when you face danger.
It is also a liability since it wears faster and makes your car to work harder thus consuming more gas. In numbers, 10% under-inflation increases the tire’s wear rate by 5% and the gas consumption by 2%.
Purchasing one of our reviewed portable tire inflators will maximize your car tire’s life and safety through regular refilling. You might also be having a leaking tire in the middle of nowhere and this air pump will save the day.
Without further ado, here’s our list of the best portable air pumps for car tires in 2018.
Coming up after the review is a juicy operation and buyer’s guide for these portable air compressors.
Best portable air pumps for car tires
|Image||Name||Max Pressure||Air flow rate (CFM)||Power specs||Price|
|1.||EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump||100PSI||1.06 CFM||12V DC, 10-15 A|
|2.||P.I. Auto Store - Premium 12V DC Portable Digital Auto Tire Inflator||150PSI||1.23 CFM||12V DC, 10A|
|3.||VIAIR 85P Portable Air Compressor||60PSI||1.26 CFM||12V, 15A|
|4.||Bon-Aire Goodyear i8000 120-Volt Direct Drive Tire Inflator||150PSI||0.54 CFM||120VAC|
|5.||Kensun AC/DC Swift Performance Portable Air Compressor for Home and Car||120PSI||0.64 CFM (DC) / 0.71 CFM (AC)||120VAC/ 12V DC, 10A|
|6.||NOOX Tire Inflator Air Compressor, Portable Electrical Air Pump||150PSI||0.95 CFM||120VAC/ 12VDC 10A|
|7.||Campbell Hausfeld Cordless Tire Inflator||230PSI||0.44 CFM (at 0 PSI), 0.38 (30 PSI)||120VAC|
Battery spec: 12v 7.2Ah
|8.||FamilyTool Tire Inflator||150PSI||N/A||12VDC 10-15A|
|9.||Black & Decker ASI300 Air Station High Performance Inflator||160PSI||0.88 CFM (0 PSI) 0.44 CFM (30 PSI)||120 VAC/ 12VDC|
|10.||Husky Tools 12 Volt Inflator with Pressure Gauge||130PSI||0.35 CFM (30 PSI)||120 VAC/ 12VDC 10-15A|
1. EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump
If you are one of those people who find it bothersome having to queue at the gas station just to get your tires inflated, then it’s time you joined the thousands of motorists enjoying the EPAuto portable and convenient car tire inflator.
Max Working pressure: 100PSI Power source: 12VDC 10~15 amps Weight: 3.7lbs Cord length: 9ft
Our verdict: EPAuto emerged the best in our review due to its various protection systems, from overheat, over-inflation, and vibration, some of which most of the other portable air pumps lack. We also love the fact it is silent and versatile. It is, therefore, worth every cent from your pocket.
2. P.I. Auto Store – Premium 12V DC Portable Digital Auto Tire Inflator
You wouldn’t want to find yourself with deflated tires and a discharged electric car tire pump that won’t plug into standard DC outlets in your car. This pump plugs into any of your car’s 12VDC outlet and so it’s a plug and play device.
Max working pressure: 150PSI Weight 2.05 lbs Power source: 12V Cord length: 13ft
Our verdict: This is a good pump that will help you keep your car tires in good health. It is compact, light and affordable. The only but is the fact that with time it can overshoot the set pressure by up to 2PSI. However, you just need to compensate for this when setting your pressure.
3. VIAIR 85P Portable Air Compressor
You lose a lot by failing to regularly refill your car tire pressure, such as increased tire wear and tear, increased consumption of gas and the risk of accidents. VIAIR portable air compressors are one of the most sought after in the market and they help avoid this tire menace.
Max Working pressure: 60PSI Power source: 15 AMPS/12V CFM: 1.26CFM Free Flow @ 0 PSI
Our verdict: VIAIR is the most powerful pump in our review and it is worth every cent in terms of speed, efficiency, and reliability. The only major drawback with this air pump is that goes up to 60PSI, but this is not a concern if you are using it for mid-sized cars and SUV.
4. Bon-Aire Goodyear i8000 120-Volt Direct Drive Tire Inflator
At less than $50, Bon-Aire lets you own a single portable air pump that will refill all your inflatables, whether it is a road bike, UTV, truck, small car as well as sports equipment.
Air hose + power cord length: 24ft Max Working Pressure: 150PSI Weight: 7.1 lb
Our verdict: What we love about Bon-Aire is its versatility and the high speed of pumping. The power cord and hose are also long enough to pump all tires from one position even if it’s the long Land Cruiser.
5. Kensun AC/DC Swift Performance Portable Air Compressor for Home and Car
Kensun is one of the most trusted brands in the automotive accessories industry and the AC/DC portable air pump for car tires transcends the swiftness of other air compressors by being adaptable to both AC and DC power sources.
Max Working pressure: 120PSI LpM (Liter per minute): 18(DC) / 20(AC)
CFM (Cubic feet per minute): 0.64(DC) / 0.71(AC) Maximum current: <10A
Our verdict: What we like about Kensun is the fact that it is AC/DC adaptable and for refilling purposes, its longer working time is very convenient. Though the short cords and analog systems are a minus, its versatility, durability and affordability work in its favor and therefore it is worth a try.
6. NOOX Tire Inflator Air Compressor, Portable Electrical Air Pump
When it comes to safety when driving your car, after your brakes, properly inflated tires are your second most important devices. NOOX electric air pump for tires is what you need to maintain perpetual control while on the road.
Max working pressure: 150PSI Weight: 2.2 lbs Power source: 120VAC/12VDC 10A
Our verdict: This is a go-to car tire inflator for the many conveniences, including accuracy, ease of use and storage. It is also cute and can be a perfect gift for your boyfriend or girlfriend.
7. Campbell Hausfeld Cordless Tire Inflator
Campbell Hausfeld opened doors in 1836 and it’s the quality of their products that has kept them in business ever since. The Campbell Hausfeld rechargeable cordless inflator doubles up as a power source that lets you complete your projects in case of a power outage.
Max working pressure: 230PSI Battery spec: 12v 7.2Ah Weight: 10.8 lbs CFM: 0.44 at 0 PSI & 0.38 at 30 PSI
Our verdict: Out of experience, senior citizens know the good things out there and this is the air pump your parents and grandparents have been using for years. You can’t go wrong by investing in it as well.
8. FamilyTool Tire Inflator
Deflated tires compromise your car traction and control on the road which can be potentially hazardous. The FamilyTool Automotive Portable Tire Inflator is a lightweight but powerful air pump that lets you recharge your tires on the go thus regaining control anytime.
Maximum working pressure: 150PSI Weight: 2.73 lbs Power source: 12VDC 15A
Our verdict: At just $30 you get a powerful air compressor that will serve almost all your family pumping needs. We also love the fact that it is a battery powered tire inflator that you can charge and use while on the go.
9. Black & Decker ASI300 Air Station High Performance Inflator
At 160PSI max, Black & Decker ASI300 portable air Station is a powerful inflator that meets almost all your household and while on the go pumping needs.
Max working pressure: 160PSI Weight: 6.1 lbs Power source: 110 VAC/ 12VDC
Our verdict: Black and Decker have one of the most powerful tools at an at-par cost with others and this is still the case with this pump. Though some people find the 6.1 lbs weight to be heavy, you will love the low and high-pressure reliability.
10. Husky Tools 12 Volt Inflator with Pressure Gauge
Your car might get pricked and start leaking along the way, so how do you make it to the tire store or the mechanic? You carry a Husky Tools tire inflator in the trunk and refill until you reach assistance.
Max working pressure: 130PSI CFM: 0.35 SCFM at 30 PSI Air hose length: 28 in. Weight: 4.3lbs
Our verdict: Husky is a small and super quiet air pump. However, compared to other brands reviewed, it takes more time to charge an inflatable from flat to maximum. We would, therefore, recommend it for refilling purposes only.
How to Inflate a Tire Using a Portable Tire Inflator
Operating a portable tire inflator for charging your car tires or any other inflator only needs you to follow a few easy-peasy steps that even your granny will get around.
- Place the portable air compressor on a flat surface on your driveway or any other roadway where you might be.
- If it’s dark, turn on the LED flashlight to illuminate the inflator and your work area. You might also want to switch on the emergency light if you are causing any obstruction.
- Ensure that the pumps’ power switch is off and your car’s engine is running. When the engine is off, the vehicle’s battery falls a shade below 12V and this will compromise the inflator’s voltage and current requirements. A cordless tire inflator lets you avoid this step.
- Detach the dust cap covering the first tire valve and then attach or screw the air hose chuck onto the tire’s valve stem.
- If you are using a cordless battery charged air pump then go to step 6. If not, plug the pump’s power cord into a 12V cigarette lighter socket or any other 12V outlet. Ensure that the outlet’s current rating matches that of the inflator.
- Turn on the pressure display unit, select your desired display units, and set the desired pressure by pressing the (+) or (-) button. Wait for the display to stop flashing.
- Turn on the compressor power switch and leave it to pump to your desired pressure. A pump with automatic shutoff will automatically shut off when the set pressure is reached. If it doesn’t have the system, then you should turn off the power when the pressure is a fraction above the set pressure to compensate for the loss when detaching.
- Turn off the power source.
- Unscrew or detach the valve connector, replace the dust cap onto the tire valve and disconnect the power cord from the socket.
Please have a look at this short video showing how to put air in a car tire
Buyer’s guide for portable inflators for car tires
When it comes to selecting the best potable air pump for your car tire without prior experience, it’s easy to get lost in the specifications, ratings, dimensions, and all. However, with proper guidance, you will know what to look out for and you’ll soon realize that you don’t have to be a techie to separate wheat from chaff.
Here are some of the factors to consider when selecting a car tire pump:
(i) The power source
Different pumps are designed to use different power sources and you would want the most convenient for you.
There are those that plug into the household AC power outlet and they may or may not have battery storage. Such a type makes the best air compressor for home garage. They also make the battery charger and air compressor combo such as the Campbell Hausfield cordless inflator.
The second type is the inflators that directly plug into your car’s battery. They come with crocodile clips and they make the best portable air compressor for off road use where there might be no 12 volt outlet, such as the RVs.
The third type is the air pump that you can simply plug into car’s 12V outlet. These tend to be lightweight and compact and most of them are as efficient as the heavy-duty AC or battery powered air compressors. We found this type to be the most convenient due to its easy while on the go use.
The fourth type is the hybrid, a car tire air pump adapted to both AC and DC power. These are equally if not more convenient than the 12V tire inflators.
(ii) Gauge accuracy
A highly accurate gauge will enable you to inflate your tires and other inflatables to the precise pressure you desire. It also enables precise automatic or manual shutoff when the set pressure is reached. However, an ideal gauge is unachievable at a consumer friendly price and from our tests we concluded that a margin of error of + or -1PSI should be acceptable since it is easy to compensate when setting the pressure and detaching the valve connector.
(iii) Gauge readability
When it comes to analog gauges, legibility is very important so that you can know exactly when to stop. It is therefore important to check the size and scale of the gauge. For instance, a 1 inch gauge going up to 300PSI may not even have 5 or 10 PSI pressure increments and therefore realizing say, 33 PSI is simply guesswork.
Digital pressure display is always the easiest to read and it would be better if it has a digital readout.
(iv) Inflation speed
Every minute is precious in your busy life and the last thing you would want is a car tire inflator that takes an hour of your time.
There are powerful pumps that take 2 minutes or less to charge a mid-sized car tire from flat to 35 PSI while others will take more than 10 minutes to do the same. It is important to ensure that the pump’s CFM (cubic feet per minute) is 0.5 or higher but you should confirm the inflation time before purchasing.
Portability is determined by the inflator weight, size, and presence of a carry handle and/or carry case. The heavier and bigger the air pump is, the more it will burden your car and take up more space in the trunk. Most of our reviewed pumps were below 5 lbs and in fact, some of the lightest ones at 2 lbs were the best performing.
You don’t want your neighbors to get infuriated thinking you’ve recently set up a milling machine at home and it’s therefore important to go for a vibration resistant air pump. The best ones are fitted with study rubber feet for stability and absorbing vibration.
(vii) Continuous working time/ duty cycle
Due to factors like heat buildup, a pump is an intermittent machine and you would want something that will inflate all the four tires at a go. Most pumps have a continuous working time of 10-15 minutes and this might need you to restart it especially if have a completely empty tire. A good number of pumps in our review had a duty cycle of 20-30 minutes.
(viii) Air hose and power cord length
You would prefer not to have to carry the air compressor from one tire to the other. The only way to ensure this is having enough power cord and air hose.
Bon-Aire had the longest air hose of 18ft while the P. I. Auto store had the longest power cord of 13 ft.
Some pumps have a long enough per cord but a short air hose such that you have shift the pump but not the power source.
However, cable and air hose length is a secondary issue that should not prevail over performance.
The power cord and air hose should also not be too long as this will cause current and pressure loses respectively. It also creates a storage problem.