Keeping a 12 Volt portable air compressor in your vehicle is a very sensible idea. Most people never envisage using it in an emergency situation, however, if you have a flat or low pressure tire the 12v portable air compressor will save you the time and hassle of changing the wheel at the side of the road.
Many of the car tire air compressors incorporate a flashlight that is a real bonus when using the tire inflator at night.
Some of the tire compressors have a digital readout and some have a gauge to display the tire pressure.
Certain models can be set to cut off the air at a certain pressure, ensuring that you don’t over inflate your tires.
Models like the Kensun can be run from a 12 volt battery or a 120 volt mains supply, giving you optimum versatility.
Although these machines are called car tire inflators they can also inflate many other items such as air beds, boats, toys, balls, bicycle tires, motorcycle tires and small truck tires. All in all they are very versatile machines that have a multitude of uses.
Still confused which one to buy? Read our Best Tire Inflator Guide, below the reviews.
|Kensun||EPAuto||ENGREPO||Viair||P.I. Auto Store|
|Voltages||12V - 110V||12V||12V (Lithium-Ion Battery)||12V (Direct to Battery)||12V|
|Air Flow||30L/min - 1.6 CFM||30L/min - 1.6 CFM||12L/min - 0.42 CFM||41.6L/min - 1.47 CFM||22L/min - 0.78 CFM|
|Max Pressure||90 Psi||100 Psi||150 Psi||120 Psi||150 Psi|
|Air Hose Length||23.6 inches||30 inches||6 inches||16 ft||2 ft|
|Power Cable Length||110V - 5ft 10.8 in|
12V - 10ft 9.9 in
|8 ft||N/A||10 ft||11 ft|
|Draw Amps||10 - 15 Amps||10 - 15 Amps||5 Amps||20 Amps||10 Amp|
|Weight||5 pounds||3.8 pounds||1 pounds||4.75 pounds||2 pounds|
|Dimensions||11.8 x 4.3 x 6.7 inches||9.7 x 8 x 5.6 inches||1.8 × 2.2 × 7.8 inches||9.8 x 3.1 x 5.6 inches||7 x 3 x 6.5 inches|
Kensun AC/DC Portable Air Compressor Tire Inflator
At first glance the Kensun looks like many of the other cheap tire inflators that have flooded the market, however, when you take a closer look at the specs and features it quickly becomes apparent why this is the number one best-selling model on Amazon.com.
The Kensun comes complete with 3 additional nozzle adaptors that enable the inflation of not just vehicle tires but also items such as inflatable beds, balls and bicycle/motorcycle tires too.
A desired pressure can be set to ensure that shuts the compressor off at the target pressure, eliminating the possibility of any over-inflation. Both target pressure and the actual pressure within the tire/item are both displayed on the digital LED display.
Both 12 Volt and 120 Volt power leads are included in the package. The 12 Volt lead is permanently attached and the 120 Volt lead connects via a two pin plug. Also included is an LED light that is useful for night time operation.
- Pressure pre-set
- Digital readout
- Work light
- 12 Volt or 120 Volt power
- Carry case
- Air hose could have been longer
- Difficulty fitting the 12 Volt cable into the storage compartment
With a maximum pressure of 90 Psi and a very respectable 30 Liters (7.9 Gallons) per minute air flow rate, the Kensun should be more than adequate for any type of vehicle tire or inflatable item.
Overall, the Kensun is a very compact and lightweight tire inflator that has multiple uses, is easy to operate, and at this price is well worth checking out.
EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump, Digital Tire Inflator
The EPAuto portable air compressor is a very versatile product that comes with adaptors for inflating a variety of different products.
An easy to read digital display shows the target pressure and actual pressure in four changeable units, PSI, KPA, BAR and KG/CM. Setting the target pressure is simply a case of pressing the plus and minus buttons until the desired pressure is displayed on the screen.
To protect the motor from burning out, an overheat protection system will shut down the compressor if it reaches a temperature of 167°F.
As for noise output, which tends to be quite high on small air compressors, the EPAuto is actually very quiet, which is great if you need to use it when camping, late at night or early in the morning.
- Clear and bright digital display
- Easy to use
- LED flashlight
- Low noise
- Carry bag is quite small and a tight fit
Even though the compressor does not support LT, HT and truck tires, for the average vehicle it will work just fine.
If you are on a budget and looking for the best tire inflator for the money, the EPAuto could be just what you are looking for.
ENGREPO Hand-Held 12V Electric Portable Air Compressor, Digital Tire Inflator
If you are looking for a cordless tire inflator, the ENGREPO is probably one of the best battery powered compressors on the market.
One important point to mention is that the ENGREPO has not been designed to completely replace a standard tire inflator where you need to inflate vehicle tires from flat. What it is designed for is topping up vehicle tires and inflating small tires, such as those on cycles, motorcycles, golf carts and wheelbarrows.
The ENGREPO has a Lithium-ion battery which can be recharged using the supplied AC and DC chargers. If the battery runs out during the inflation process, the ENGREPO can be plugged into the cigarette lighter socket to complete the job.
The digital display is clear, bright and easy to read. When the required pressure is set, the compressor will cut off when this is reached, protecting from over-inflation. The pressure display units can be cycled between PSI, Bar KPa and Kg/cm2. Two led lights provide night time illumination.
LED lights and backlit display
Ability to set target pressure
Comes with inflation accessories and case
Easy to use
Not designed for inflating vehicle tires from flat
Carry case is too small to fit accessories
If you understand the limitations of this product and need an emergency car tire inflator or a routine pressure top-up, the ENGREPO has got to be on your shortlist.
Viair 88P Portable Air Compressor
The Viair 88P is a small yet powerful tire inflator that connects directly to the battery terminals of the vehicle, which enables the machine to draw more Amps and ultimately provide a faster fill time.
Having a dial readout, as opposed to a digital display, no preset pressure and no work light means that the 88P is a no frills portable tire inflator with very little to go wrong.
The new models now feature a longer power cord (10 Ft) and air hose (16 Ft), which will allow easy access to all tires on most vehicles.
With a maximum working pressure of 120 Psi, and the ability to fill up to 33 inch tires, the Viair will be ideal for the majority of vehicles.
The Viair 88p can be run continuously for up to 25 minutes at 30psi or less. Although, running at higher pressures over 30 Psi will reduce the continuous run time.
Long cord and hose
Very solid and well made
No carry case
No preset pressure
The Viair 88P is a very durable and solid inflator that should stand the test of time. It doesn’t have all the gimmick features that a lot of the other plastic compressors have, however, it does what it’s supposed to do, and does it very quickly and efficiently.
If you are looking to buy a well-made and powerful tire inflator, the Viair 88P is probably the best tire inflator on the market.
P.I. Auto Store Premium Digital Tire Inflator – 12v DC Portable Auto Air Compressor
The P.I. Auto Store digital tire inflator packs a lot of technology into a very small space. And even though the machine has every possible extra you could want, it is still very easy to operate.
As well as inflating car tires, the compressor can also fill motorcycle tires, cycle tires, and inflatable objects such as sports equipment and beach balls.
The machine comes with a 12 Volt DC cigarette lighter connector. A 110 Volt AC to 12 Volt DC adapter and 12 Volt DC extension cables are also available, although, they must be purchased separately.
Operating the machine is very easy, and just a case of setting the display units between Psi, bar, Kpa or Kg/cm2, setting the target pressure with the increase and decrease buttons, and switching the compressor on.
The work light consists of 8 LED’s and is very bright. The light can be switched between normal white, red and flashing red for emergency situations.
Ability to set target pressure
Ease of use
LED display is not backlit
Difficult to get the cable back into the storage compartment
Even with the minor cons above, the P.I. Auto Store digital tire inflator is a good machine for occasional inflation. At this price it really is a bargain buy.
Best Tire Inflator Guide
If you are having trouble deciding on which is the best tire inflator for your particular requirements, you may need some practical advice and pointers to steer (no pun intended) you in the right direction, so, without further ado here is the best tire inflator buyer guide.
Although most car tire inflators are pretty cheap you do get what you pay for in terms of quality, reliability and features. So think about how often you might be using the machine and what for.
If you have more than one vehicle or you intend to inflate other objects like toys, boats etc, then the compressor should be durable and made to withstand the rigors of frequent use.
One tip to consider when looking for the best tire inflator is to look at the Amazon.com user reviews, these are real reviews by people that have actually purchased the item.
Pressure Settings and Gauge:
Having a pressure gauge that is clear, easy to view and has well defined markings is another thing to look for, if the gauge is awkward to view or has pressure markings that are too close together can lead to confusion and overinflating.
Many of the best tire inflator machines can be set to a certain pressure and when the machine reaches it the motor will cut out, which means, no under or over inflation problems.
Some models have a light incorporated into the body of the compressor. This is a real bonus when using the machine in the dark. Even if you don’t need to inflate the tires the light is still handy to have in the trunk of your car for unforeseen emergencies such as mechanical breakdowns.
12 volt air compressors run either off the cigarette lighter socket, the battery or both. These types of tire inflators are ideal to keep in the trunk of the car for regular tire inflation and emergencies.
110 volt compressors can only be used within reach of a mains outlet. These compressors are great for inflating a wide range of objects from tires to sports balls, but won’t be much use if you are away from home and develop a flat tire.
Dual voltage air inflators can run off a 12 volt car battery or from a 110 volt mains outlet, giving you a lot more flexibility.
Cordless air inflators run off a built in battery and provide the ultimate portability, no trailing wires or extension cables. The only drawback is that the battery charge degrades over time, so if you are going to use the machine as an emergency appliance, make sure to charge the battery on a regular basis.
Tire sizes and Pressures:
All of the above machines will easily inflate a standard car tire, however if you have a vehicle that has large tires or one that needs high pressure, check the manufactures specifications before purchasing.
Q. What do most people complain about?
A. Cable length, hose length and noise
Check the manufacturer’s specs and the Amazon reviews for the cable and hose lengths before buying. Also, if noise is an issue you may also want to determine just how loud the machine actually is.
I won’t go into the duty cycle aspect of the inflators because for many people it is irrelevant, however if you do want to find out about what duty cycle is, read our explanation here.
I hope this article has helped you to find the best tire inflator to suit your particular needs. Thank you for reading.