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, of which most are subtle, such as temperature changes, a leaking tire valve stem 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 filler will save the day.
Without further ado, here’s our list of the best portable air pumps for car tires in 2021.
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10 Best Portable Air Compressor for Tires in 2021
Air flow rate (CFM)
12V DC, 10-15 A
12V DC, 10A
0.64 CFM (DC) / 0.71 CFM (AC)
120VAC/ 12V DC, 10A
1.9 CFM at 0 PSI
0.44 CFM (at 0 PSI), 0.38 (30 PSI)
Battery spec: 12v 7.2Ah
0.35 CFM (30 PSI)
120 VAC/ 12VDC 10-15A
0.88 CFM (0 PSI) 0.44 CFM (30 PSI)
120 VAC/ 12VDC
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.
You want your tires to be properly inflated at all times, but you may not have the chance to manually monitor their situation while you’re driving. That’s why you need a tire pressure monitoring system and the best tpms tool helps you scan, diagnose, and recalibrate the tire pressure sensors.
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.
Maximum 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 cold season is here and you can save some good bucks with one of these best all season tires for snow since you can use them throughout next year.
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 electric sources.
Maximum 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.
You lose a lot by failing to regularly refill your car tire pressure, such as increased tire wear and tear, increased gas consumption 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 inflator 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.
At just $56, Slime 2X Heavy Duty Direct Drive Tire Inflator 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 length: 30ft Max Pressure: 150PSI Weight: 8.66 lbs
Our verdict: What we love about Slime 40026 is its versatility and the high speed of pumping. The direct drive connection and long hose make it easy to pump all tires from one position.
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 blackout.
Maximum operating 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 inflator your parents and grandparents have been using for years. You can’t go wrong by investing in it as well.
VacLife Air Compressor is a lightweight but powerful and fast inflating tire pump that lets you recharge your rubbers on the go thus ensuring proper control of your car anytime.
FeaturesMaximum working pressure: 150PSI Weight: 2.79 lbs Power source: 12VDC 10A
Our verdict: At just $29 you get a powerful air compressor that will serve almost all your family pumping needs. The convenient battery storage is also a plus.
8. Xylee Air Compressor Tire Inflator, Auto Digital Tire Inflator with Gauge- best portable tire inflator for the money
When it comes to safety when driving your car, after your brakes, properly inflated tires are your second most important devices. Xlyee electric air inflator for tires is what you need to maintain perpetual control while on the road.
Max operating pressure: 150PSI Weight: 2.35 lbs Power source: 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.
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 conduit length: 28 in. Weight: 4.3lbs
Our verdict: Husky is a small and super quiet tire filler. 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.
At 160PSI max, BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX multi-purpose inflator is a robust inflator that meets almost all your household and while on the go pumping needs.
Optimal working pressure: 160PSI Weight: 5.2 lbs Power source: 12VDC, 120VAC
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.
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.
- 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’ DC 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 pressure duct chuck onto the tire’s valve stem.
- If you are using a cordless battery charged air compressor then go to step 6. If not, plug the pump’s power cord into a 12V cigarette lighter socket or any other 12V outlet.
- 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 electric switch and leave it to pump to your desired pressure. A pump with intelligent shutoff will automatically shut off at the set pressure. 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 DC source.
- Unscrew or detach the valve connector, replace the dust cap onto the tire valve and disconnect the DC cord from the socket.
Please have a look at this short video showing how to put air in a car tire
A buyer’s guide for the best portable tire inflator
What is a portable air compressor?
The word pump is often times substituted for compressor, but there exists a difference when it comes to comparing with standard pumps.
The ordinary pump lifts a fluid from one point to another without affecting its pressure. An inflating pump or compressor on the other hand, is a machine that besides lifting a gas from one point to another, it squeezes it so that it’s delivered at a much higher pressure than it was. With this, the compressed gas can be used to inflate things like tires, balls, and boats.
Though it may need more energy than an equivalent standard pump, being portable, means that the compressor has optimized features so that a small mobile size can serve your needs.
When it comes to selecting the best portable air pump for your car tire without prior experience, it’s easy to get lost in the specifications, ratings, dimensions, and all.
Here are some of the factors to consider when selecting the best air pump for car tires:
(i) The power source
Different pumps are designed to use different electrical 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. An example is the Campbell Hausfield cordless inflator.
The second type directly plugs 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.
The third type is the air pump that you can simply plug into car’s 12V outlet. This type is lightweight, compact and we found it to be the most convenient due to its easy while on the go use.
The fourth type is the hybrid, a car tire air compressor adapted to both AC and DC energy. These are equally convenient like 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 self-activating or manual shutoff when the set pressure is reached. However, an ideal gauge is unachievable 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 thus you have to guess 33 PSI.
However, digital pressure display is always the easiest to read.
(iv) Inflation speed
Every minute is precious and there are powerful inflators 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.
You don’t want to infuriate your neighbors it’s therefore important to go for a vibration resistant inflator. The best ones are fitted with sturdy 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 compressors in our review had a duty cycle of 20-30 minutes.
(viii) Air hose and DC cord length
Having enough power cord and air outlet hose ensures that you don’t have to carry the air compressor from one tire to the other.
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