Recently, my wife and I decided to replace the aging tire inflator for our SUV. Sure enough, the older model P.I. Auto Store Premium 12V DC Tire inflator had served us quite well. I loved how fast it pumped air and the simple design that made it easy even for my teenage daughter to use it (yeah… you know how teen girls can be a bit hands-off when it comes to car matters….).
My wife, on the other hand, loves the convenience of not having to use lots of effort or soil her hands while doing it. Sadly, we had to let go of the unit because it had seen it all. Adding air pressure in the SUV, ATV, RV, motorbike, a bike, and the raft was not an easy fit.
Best Portable Tire Inflators in 2020 List
Last update on 2020-05-09 (UCT) / Affiliate links / Price / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
#6 Oasser Portable Mini Air Compressor Inflator
I was impressed by how powerful this mini air compressor is. Yes, it’s undoubtedly among the smallest pieces on our list. However, this unit can produce up to 150PSI and can run for a good period before it starts to overheat. It’s made of stainless steel to last a long time and also put-up with regular use. You can choose to run via the 12V DC car cigarette lighter or charge it using the included adapter from the mains 110V AC. the rechargeable lithium-ion fully recharges in about 1.5 hours. The LCD digital pressure shows the readings in PSI, KPA, and BAR and KG/CM2.
#5 DBPOWER 12V DC Portable Electric Tire Inflator, 150PSI, (Black and Yellow)
Next in our lineup is the DBPOWER 12V DC tire inflator. I’ve seen this unit in operation and I love how effective and efficient it works. It delivers high volumes of air fairly fast and will get you back on the road sooner-than-later. The device is constructed of strong materials to handle the pressure and frequent operation while the large gauge displays the readings clearly. The heavy-duty unit can produce up to 150Psi and has a long power cable and hose. It has several nozzles and adaptors for easy inflation of different items. The manufacturer states that the charging cable is 12feet (3 meters) which is perfect for most vehicles.
#4 EPAuto 12V DC Portable Digital Tire Inflator, 100PSI
This portable air compressor inflates various vehicle tires with ease. The compact inflator runs via 12V DC and are designed to plug into the standard car cigarette lighter. It features a long power cord and air hose for quick and easy reach and an easy-to-read dial. The pressure units are displayed in PSI, KG/CM, BAR and KPA and it’s also includes led lights for improved illumination especially in the dark or at night. To prevent overinflation, it automatically shuts off after the desired pressure is achieved. Also, it comes with an overheat protector. I would, however, have ranked this unit a bit higher if the pressure exceeded 100 Psi.
#3 P.I. Auto Store Newly Improved Premium Portable 12V DC Digital Auto Tire Inflator Get it now on Amazon.com
By: P.I. AUTO STORE
This portable tire inflator works with cars (except trucks), motorbikes, ATVs, bicycles, and also sports equipment. It’s more improved than the earlier version and operates from the car cigarette lighter socket (12V DC). It has a strong case for protecting the motor from bangs, falls, bumps, knocks and the elements, and a clear and legible LCD gauge. The included microprocessors are very accurate and stop the device from pumping more pressure once it reaches the chosen capacity. It has a practical carry case for easy movement and long power cable and hose.
#2 Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressors
Of the many portable tire inflators we have looked at, my wife loves this the most. In fact, if I wasn’t drawn to the next one on this list, we probably would have bought this one already. I agree with her that it is very strongly built and will definitely endure the rough outdoors. It also works fairly fast and it isn’t very noisy. The Viair 00088 88p air compressor runs via a 12V DC and comes with a pair of alligator clips for connecting to the car battery. It has the necessary accessories which include a 16-foot long air hose, a 10ft long power cord, 3 inflation tips, and an air hose. The only issue I have with this unit is that it delivers up to 120PSI while my favorite can reach up to 150PSI. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005ASY23I/
#1 Helteko 12V 150PSI Portable Digital Tire Inflator
I really like this tire inflator and am trying to convince my wife we settle for it. It’s very strongly built from stainless steel and ABS plastic and will stand up well against regular use, banging and dropping, abrasions and poor handling. The compact piece feels very solid thanks to the quality materials and design and can generate up to 150Psi. It’s also very versatile and will inflate a range of tires including those for SUVs, minivans, light sucks, motorcycles, and bicycles. The unit can also be used to inflate basketballs inflatables, dinghies and other things. For easy reading, it displays the reading in PSI, KPA, BAR, and KG/CM2. It features Led light for illuminating dark areas.
How We Picked The Best?
To tell you the truth, modern tire inflators have really improved. They are more energy efficient, work faster, deliver decent pressure, and are also more affordable. When comparing the available models, we mainly looked at the following:
- Pressure: The right product delivers good pressure and most will handle even large truck tires. Furthermore, the units work fast and you should be done inflating the wheel in a short time. Besides inflation, they also allow a user to reduce the pressure.
- Portability: We wanted a product that is easy to carry around and also store in the car. The units generally weighed between 1- 6 pounds and we steered clear of heavy-duty types, which although more powerful, are a little heavy and bulky. Another thing we looked at was the design. Good types were slim and can easily be placed in the palm of the hands and also come with handles.
- Pressure Gauge: It is important to make sure that the dial was easy to read and clear. A clear glass lens is better than a translucent plastic while bigger digits are easier to read than smaller ones. You’ll also find products with a backlit screen or led lights for use in the dark.
- Accuracy: Imagine inflating a tire only to confirm later that it was more or less by a few PSIs? To avoid such errors we only go for renowned brands and also talk to people who have or currently own the units. Product reviews and expert analysis also come in handy. We noted that dials that go too high for instance above 250psi were not as legible as those that don’t go above 200psi. This was because the former had the numbers a bit squeezed in the dial.
- Noise Level: My current inflator is powerful and delivers good pressure, fast. However, it is fairly loud and can be a bit of a nuisance. Closer investigations reveal that it had a decibel rating of about 90dB. This time around I was looking for units producing less than 85 decibels.
- Continuous Run Time: You are warned against running an inflator for more than 15 minutes nonstop since it may overheat and get damaged. The correct way is not to run it for nor more than 10 minutes then allow it to cool down for about 30 minutes and then proceed. This can be a big challenge if you are inflating a big tire. During our search, we aimed for the ones with a long run time.
Other things we paid attention to include the design, weight, hose length, cord length, connections, and plugs, build quality, and price.
Importance of Having The Right Tire Inflator
Many years ago, I never gave tire pressure the seriousness it deserves. I would go for weeks without checking the pressure and would only do so if I had a flat. I have also seen some people trust their eyes or kick the tires to ascertain if the pressure is enough (I have never understood how kicking a tire can tell you if the air pressure is okay…). The following are some dangers of driving on poorly inflated tares:
- Poor Handling: Unevenly inflated tires affect the handling and performance of the car. The car will tend to pull towards the side with the low-pressure tire. Over-inflated tires reduce the contact with the road surface and this affects the traction and increases the stopping distance.
- Noisy Drive: One of the signs that you have a flat or punctured tire is noise. You will also notice an unusual increase noise if your tires are underinflated. This is because there is less bounciness and it doesn’t absorb the road vibrations and shocks as it’s supposed to. The affected wheel will also be more susceptible to the roughness of the road and impact.
- Poor Traction: According to tirebuyer, poorly inflated tires will provide bad grip on different surfaces. For instance, overinflated ones won’t maintain good contact on asphalt/tarmac or muddy/sandy terrains while underinflated ones will perform poorly on loose gravel or grasslands. A good portable inflator allows you to vary the pressure deepening on the terrain/surface. For instance, you will lower the pressure when driving on mud so as to increase the surface area and increase pressure on harder searches.
- Poor Gas Mileage: Underinflated tires will lead to an increase in the fuel mileage. This is because the low-pressure increases drag and make the engine work harder. It’s crucial to stick to the car manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to pressure or the tire manufacture instructions in case you upgrade the wheels.
- Premature Wear: You can always tell that you are inflating your tires the wrong way by their appearance. Assuming it’s mechanically sound and the shock absorption system is okay, underinflating the tires makes the edges wear out much faster while overinflating it makes the center age much faster. It’s not strange for people to replace a tire that is barely a few months old just because it has worn out badly.
- Tire Blowout: Did you know that most blowouts aren’t caused by manufacturing fault or sharp objection the road but by badly inflating the tires? The reading you get when the tire is cold will be lower than when it’s hot or the car has been driven for a while. When it gets too hot or after driving for long distances, the reading can rise by up to 3Psi. In such a situation, a portable tire inflator will help you to reduce the pressure to prevent a blowout.
You shouldn’t take your tire air pressure for granted. You also should not use crude methods such as trusting your eyes or kicking each wheel. With the right inflator, you will be able to inflate or deflate the tire effortlessly. This not only improves the drive quality, control, and safety but also extends the life of the tires. In the above review, I have taken you through the best portable tire inflators on the market. Additionally, I have taught you how to pick a good product as well as the dangers of driving with wrongly inflated tires. Isn’t it time for you to acquire a quality and reliable tire inflator for your car?