The Best Portable Tire Inflators in 2017
We’ve all been there before: you’re on a back road miles from the nearest gas station, and your tire pressure light comes on. Do you risk it and try to drive to the gas station, or call a tow truck?
Or maybe, you have a car that’s been in the garage all winter. The cold air has undoubtedly lowered your tire pressure, possibly to a level that isn’t safe to drive on.
Maybe you’re just a person who hates waiting in line to pay a dollar to pump your tires up.
All of these scenarios have one thing in common: the need for a portable tire inflator.
What is a portable tire inflator?
A portable tire inflator, or air compressor, is a machine that can run off of 12V and inflate your car tires. Sounds simple right? Well, not so much. There are a multitude of options and features that you have to decide between when deciding on a model to purchase
Generally, these units are small enough to fit in your trunk, back seat, or in a cabinet in your garage. As the name suggests, the main goal is portability—you need to be able to take these portable inflator pumps with you wherever you go in case you need them.
As a result, the most common source of power for portable air compressors is the cigarette lighter in your car, although you can generally plug them directly into your car battery. The flexibility you are afforded is exactly what makes portable tire inflators so useful. But how can you find the best portable tire inflator in 2017?
What should I look for with a portable inflator?
While any size compressor will certainly inflate your tires, you’ll want something that will do it quickly so you can get back out on the road in no time flat. The unit of measurement for the rate at which your compressor can move a given volume of air is called the CFM. Generally, you’ll want to look for something between 1 and 2 CFM.
It’s also important to buy a model with a built-in pressure gauge. The risk of overinflating your tires is serious, but it is easily avoided if your portable inflator pump has a pressure gauge. These gauges are also incredibly helpful in inflating your tires to a specific level as specified by your manufacturer. Inflating your tires to the proper level will ensure proper handling of your car, and help keep you safe in adverse weather conditions.
Lastly, look for a portable air compressor with additional features that will be useful for your specific situation. If you’re worried about your battery dying or don’t have a cigarette lighter in your car, it may be worthwhile to invest in a model that is rechargeable. If you have a large car, it might be a good idea to buy a portable tire inflator with a long hose.
Best inflator pumps in 2017
The Campbell Hausfeld CC2300 has the most bells and whistles out of any of the models in this price range. A built-in power supply not only allows you to run the unit without an external power supply, it also lets you charge or operate other devices that can run off of 12 volts.
This portable tire inflator also has two inflator nozzles and one sports ball needle so you can inflate multiple tires, air mattresses, sports balls, rafts, and more at the same time. If you’re a lover of the outdoors, this pump will quickly prove its use to you.
On top of the variety of nozzles and a convenient internal battery, the Campbell Hausfel CC2300 portable tire inflator has a built-in pressure gauge that will help you inflate anything to precisely the required PSI. A convenient built-in handle also increases the portability factor of this tire pump.
-Rechargeable internal battery
-Sockets allow you to charge any device that requires 12V
-3 nozzles allow for inflating multiple accessories simultaneously
-Built-in pressure gauge
-Handle allows for easy transportation
-Expensive unit for price range
-Variety of options may be hard to use
-External sockets will drain battery more quickly
Next on our list is the most powerful portable tire compressor at this price range. Sporting a hefty 1.26 CFM, this pump will inflate your tires quickly and get you back out on the road faster than its competitors.
Perhaps the most unique (and useful) feature this pump offers is its built-in super bright LED. Unlike other portable tire pumps, this model will illuminate the area in front of it, allowing you to more easily find the nozzle for inflation.
The embedded tire pressure gauge is another must-have feature included in this portable air compressor. You can inflate tires up to 31 inches in diameter and know the pressure as you go!
This 12V model is perfect if you don’t need a rechargeable battery and your main power source is the cigarette lighter in your car. Because the engine must be running to use this device, this model may not be perfect for every use case.
-High CFM means quick charging
-Built-in super bright LED helps you inflate in the dark
-Cigarette outlet charging lets you charge on the go
-Embedded tire pressure gauge
-Only rated for tires up to 31 inches in diameter
-Must have engine running while charging
-No rechargeable battery limits use cases
-Unable to use AC mains power from a standard 120V outlet
This portable tire inflator is incredibly flexible. With both DC and AC options, you can run this model using 12V DC from your cigarette lighter or 110V from the outlet in your home. The AC option runs will pump air more quickly, but the DC option offers an unparalleled flexibility.
The Kensun Swift Performance Portable Air Compressor even offers a variety of nozzle attachments depending on what you would like to inflate. Anything from tires to beach balls are fair game for this flexible unit!
A built-in analog tire pressure gauge doesn’t offer the flare of its digital counterparts, but gets the job done all the same! No need to worry about overinflating your tires with this pump.
The largest drawback of this portable tire inflator is its CFM. It supplies 0.64 CFM on DC and 0.71 CFM on AC power. This model will still inflate your tires all the same—it’ll just take a little longer to do it.
-AC and DC power options offer unparalleled flexibility
-Analog pressure gauge allows for precision in inflating
-Various nozzle attachments
-Low CFM means slower inflations
-No included battery limits usable scenarios
The best bang for your buck, this portable tire inflator has a variety of useful features that you won’t see on any other models at this price point.
Simply plug this portable air compressor into your 12V cigarette socket, and let its 1.06 CFM take inflate your tires with speed and precision.
Unlike most other units in this price range, the EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump Digital Tire Inflator by 100 PSI includes a digital pressure gauge so you can take all of the guesswork out of inflating your tires.
Not only that, but this portable tire inflator has an automatic shutoff that will prevent you from overinflating your tires. It also features an LED flashlight like much more expensive modeals
-1.06 CFM means quick inflation
-LED flashlight allows for inflation in the dark
-Automatic shutoff prevents overinflation
-Digital pressure gauge
-No AC power option or rechargeable battery
-Only rated for tires up to those found on mid-size SUVs
Lastly, we have the most economical option for a portable tire compressor: the Viair 00073 70P Heavy Duty Portable Compressor. This unit features 1.06 CFM, so it’s perfectly capable of inflating your tires quickly.
Like many other portable air compressors this unit is operated via the 12V DC cigarette socket in your car. Perhaps its largest drawback, though, is that your engine must be running while you use it. This is perfectly fine for most situations, but limits the usability in certain situations.
The Viair 00073 70P Heavy Duty Portable Compressor also includes an analog pressure gauge to let you read the pressure intermittently while inflating. While this unit is lacking in bells and whistles, it comes with a carrying case for extra portability and convenient storage.
-Sufficient CFM of 1.06
-Convenient carrying case
-Analog pressure gauge
-No AC power or rechargeable battery
-Engine must be running
-Analog pressure gauge only able to be checked while air is not being pumped
There are hundreds of portable tire inflators on the market, and deciding which to buy can be tricky. Fortunately, figuring out what you want to get out of your portable air compressor can make picking a model much easier. Whether you want a unit with all the extra features or the most affordable model on the market, look no further than this list!